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Meet Elif Tokel

Today we’d like to introduce you to Elif Tokel.

Hi Elif, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory
We are both from Istanbul Turkey and moved to the United States in July 2017. In Istanbul, we both had careers in the corporate world and banking. I had my master degree in New York City back in 2009-2012 and after finishing my education moved back to Turkey and got married with him. We have been married for eight years and have a beautiful 4-year-old daughter. When we moved to the United States, our aim to be an investor and make our dream come true being able to do our own business instead of working in the stressful corporate life.

We were looking to acquire a business in the fast-casual restaurant industry and came across Nature’s Table brand. We fell in love with their fresh and healthy menu as well as many causes that the company supports. W e are happy to be part of this franchise chain and have the opportunity for our dreams come true. We were doing great until the pandemic hit us so bad. We had to close our restaurant for three months and lost 75% of our sales. Hopefully, we had support from our landlord and government’s cares act program. We put everything on this business and we are working very hard to hang in here and protect our little restaurant. We have hope and belief that we will get through this hard time soon. We see amazing support from our customers and it amazes us every day how people try to save local businesses in the community. We are so happy to be part of this.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
We had so many challenges in some parts in this journey. We are away from our families and friends. We establish a new life away from our home country. When our daughter it was so hard to handle because we both work at restaurant and if one of us is absent all our schedule changes like finding a backup person to work or etc. Other than that, we got accepted by the community. It was painful for the first year to understand the market and needs. Hopefully, God helped us and opened our way to success.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
Serkan has a very successful 25 years career in sales and marketing. He was a manager at one of the biggest companies in Turkey and he had awards of the best salesman of the year in his field. After that, he became a marketing director of a Denmark sports apparel brand which is called Hummel. After he quit his job in order to move in here he also didn’t cut his relationship with the company and he became and distributor channel in the United States of Hummel and established an online shopping website for sports apparel and goods which is growing day by day. He also still makes contracts with big sports clubs as a wholesaler as well. In the meantime, he got another agency from Italy Sports brand, which is called Errea. It is very big brand in Europe and we are very happy to be part of this brand as well. In this hard work and the busy schedule, he is addicted to CrossFit. His biggest addiction is doing exercise daily basis makes him more confident and happy Elif also is very success focus person. She had her MBA degree from the New York Institute of Technology in 2011. She started a very good career in the Corporate Banking field. After having a kid she wanted to do her own business and now she is the manager of their small business.

Let’s talk about our city – what do you love? What do you not love?
People are so friendly and welcoming. The weather is so nice and life is affordable. Orange County is very supportive and caring of their residents in every way. This is the best city to live in peace. The only thing we can say about least is a lot of people are moving from the north right and it is getting more crowded every day.

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