A true rebel spirit
Great part in this choice played my origin and culture. My story is filled with love of community, fearlessness in the face of new challenges, and female empowerment. I am Turkish, born and raised in Istanbul. Spending time with my grandmother in rural Turkey taught me a lot about farm life and planted the first seeds of my interest in nature and the environment. A true rebel spirit, I refused to abide by the rules of the strict Turkish society at the time and I felt that I needed to explore the world and start a new chapter in my life. Without hesitating a second, I decided to move to the States at the age of 19. I arrived there with very little, yet I feel that life has brought me so much.
Caring for others
Starting from college and dental school, ROTC and serving in the National Guard, I then traveled around the world with the U.S. Army Dental Corps, earned the rank of Major, and eventually settled in northern California, raised a family and opened my own Endodontic practice. Caring for others has always been a great part of my journey in life as well as finding ways to improve the lives of those in my community.
Discovering Olive Oil
At a later stage in my life, I met Mark who inspired me to go back to my native country and connect with my roots. We traveled a lot around Turkey. The Mediterranean environment in combination with the vast olive fields gave me the idea of diving into the cultivation and production of olive oil. Mark and I drove through the region of Milas and fell in love with the natural beauty of the area. After some research and hunting, we found a large property in disrepair; its owner, an elderly woman, explained that the younger generation had left for opportunities in larger cities (much like my father had when I was a toddler), and was not interested in caring for the family land. We felt so at peace walking around this place so we decided to acquire it. And that’s where everything kicked off.
Supporting the Local Community and Female Entrepreneurship
Oro di Milas a world-class ambassador
Emine’s goal is for Oro di Milas Extra Virgin Olive Oil to serve as an ambassador of Turkish culture to the rest of the world. She hopes that tasting a top-quality extra virgin olive oil from Turkey will encourage people to learn more about the country she loves with its beautiful beaches and hillside towns, and its wonderful cuisine (her favorites include Hünkar Beğendi (eggplant pure with veal in red sauce) and Künefe (cheese-filled pastry with pistachios and syrup). It is Emine’s hope through understanding and appreciation we can build a better world for future generations.
Emine then found friends (and friends of friends) to work the land and revitalize the trees. When word spread throughout the community about her purchase, more families approached Emine; currently, she owns four orchards totaling 300 acres of 8.000 olive trees. When asked what compelled her to begin this venture, Emine responded, “the neglected trees seemed like orphaned children; how could I not help?”
Emine’s acquisitions have helped in many ways. She helps the sellers who possess little besides their land; she helps the terrain by revitalizing the orchards; she helps the community by providing new employment opportunities; and she helps the region by supporting the local economy. But for Emine, this is not enough as she also wants to teach others about the added value of producing a world-class Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO). As she eloquently states, “we want to bring education to this community and around the world on the wings of the dove that is carrying an olive branch.” In addition to the support that Emine's offering to the local community, she is also a passionate advocate of female entrepreneurship. She has helped many local women through her olive oil project by giving them the opportunity to work the fields and contribute to the production of Oro di Milas. She has also promoted many activities for local female entrepreneurs.