Since its inception in 2020, Petek Trading Co. has had a clear mission in mind: Share the work of small artisans in Turkey with people in the U.S. to recognize their work and provide them financial stability. Founded by Melek Cansu Petek, the business pays homage to Turkish heritage by bringing ethically sourced Turkish goods directly to St. Paul. She explains, “We hope to create space for new conversations, and change the way we think about and shop cultural heritage products here in the U.S.”
In 2015, Cansu Petek moved to the U.S. to attend graduate school at the University of Notre Dame—with no intention of starting a business. After the long immigration process, she took on a manager role at Anthropologie. “I really enjoyed working with customers directly,” she says. “That, along with my interest in fair trade and ethical business practices, was the catalyst in starting Petek Trading Co.” The business first launched in November 2020 after she reconnected with the artisan who sold her her first kilim, a traditional tapestry-woven rug.
The turning point for Cansu Petek was when she quit her day job in 2021 to focus full-time on developing the Petek Trading Co. brand. “After participating in craft markets and in-person events for a year and growing our customer base, we had the opportunity to open a storefront in downtown St. Paul through the support of St. Paul Downtown Alliance,” she says. The space opened in September 2022 and is now welcoming customers five days per week.
Part of Cansu Petek’s job is to hand-select items to display for the store. Recently, the store received a batch of kilim lumbar pillows from one of its vendors. “They are truly gorgeous,” she says. “I can’t wait to share them with our customers.”
What does the future hold for Petek Trading Co.? Cansu Petek says, “Once we establish ourselves in downtown St. Paul, we would love to start hosting events that connect our customers to the cultural background of our products.” Because while the brand is dedicated to raising awareness of Turkish heritage, Cansu Petek also wants to show support for the St. Paul community by showcasing the work of other small businesses.
Visit Petek Trading Co. Wednesday-Friday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday, noon to 7 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. petektradingco.com