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How Turkey's name rebrand will hurt businesses in the country


World maps everywhere will need updating after the United Nations accepted a request recently to change the international spelling and pronunciation of the country. Turkey.

SULEY OZBEY: In the local Turkish language, the word Turkey for a country is Turkiye (ph). You know, you can also say Turkiyay (ph), you know, Y-A-Y, Turkiyay. So the way I see this, a rebranding campaign for the country to improve its image.

THOMPSON: That's Suley Ozbey. He splits his time between the U.S. and Turkey, where he is the president of Charix (ph) Shoes, a handmade leather shoe company.

OZBEY: In one of my travels to Turkey, I identified this very traditional looking Turkish shoe in a local market. And I bought a pair of those not thinking anything of it. But when I brought it back to the U.S., I was getting a lot of compliments from my friends, asking me to bring a pair of shoes to them whenever I went back to Turkey again after, you know, getting more and more compliments and getting more and more orders.

THOMPSON: Ozbey's company sells over 2,000 pairs of their luxury shoes and slippers to customers in North America. And with each pair of handmade shoes he sells comes one of those little stickers that reads made in Turkey.

OZBEY: So this has two implications for us. First, we have to find a way to physically update our stickers or labels from the word Turkey into Turkiye.

THOMPSON: He says the actual act of changing the labels is pretty simple.

OZBEY: All we would have to do is revise the artwork with the words from Turkey to Turkiye and send it to the printer, next batch of production. The change takes into effect almost immediately.

THOMPSON: But there are still big questions about how all of this will work.

OZBEY: Question becomes, when is that timeline? Is it required that companies like mine make this change in their label stickers? Will the Turkish officials approve or deny the export if it's not labeled properly with the word Turkiye? If it's imported into U.S., will the U.S. import agents approve or deny the product because it says made in Turkey on it?

THOMPSON: No matter what's on the label, Ozbey says he'll continue bringing a part of his country home to the U.S.

OZBEY: So as a Turkish American, I'm proud to see that these Turkish-made slippers are making their way across the U.S. It's just, you know, something to be proud of.

THOMPSON: That was Suley Ozbey, president and founder of Charix Shoes in Washington, D.C., importing their handcrafted shoes and slippers made in the newly recognized country of Turkiye. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.