The young lady juggles her busy life as the boss at four businesses, including a gym, with cancer campaigns and love and care for lesser mortals and animals. Alvin Thomas shares her cheers and tears.
Businesswoman, mixed martial arts boxer, architect, interior designer and animal lover: Pelin Saglam’s CV spans more than what many of us would ever accomplish in a lifetime. To understand how the young Turkish expat does it all, we sat down with her for a quick and fruitful interview.
And it didn’t take me long to realise that Pelin’s love for her work – or rather the many works she does – stems from her role models: her parents.
But the Turkey-born expat said that not everything had been smooth during her childhood days. “I was about to fail and get kicked out of school when I was in Turkey. So, I was dragged here to Oman where my dad was working.”
In 2002, Pelin moved to the Sultanate and subsequently graduated from The American International School Muscat. Following that, she headed straight to London to study architecture at London Metropolitan University.
“It was something my parents suggested – and that was the time that I thought I could be anything. But they’ve always taken the best decisions for me,” she laughed.
During her stay there, she worked with several study camps – and was able to visit New Delhi, in India, to help the children in need. This also resulted in her visiting several other countries to partake in charity activities.
Following her course, she worked with firms in the UK, including award-winning architect Zaha Hadid. “Working with Zaha Hadid was never easy. Making models, staying late in the night and stringent pays was what motivated me to begin my own practice.”
Her company – Black and White Design Studio – came into existence after she returned to Oman, with an office in the Muscat Grand Mall, in Baushar.
And if you thought that was impressive, today Pelin takes care of four companies, including the well-received Knockout Gym in Oman (which was opened in March 2017).
“I built Knockout Gym with a very close friend of mine. The project came into my hands initially as a mixed martial arts centre, but I knew that the reach would be limited if we did that.
“Instead, I decided it would be best to bring it in line with a bodybuilding and a fitness centre, to regenerate the money. I am also proud to say that Black and White Design Studio designed the interiors of the gym. Later, however, I became completely invested in running it.”
Today, they have around 300 members visiting the gym for various services. The gym also features a full-fledged cage, which is used to conduct legal MMA fights. “Everyone is attracted to it and all the people want to see is the cage, although nothing ordinary goes inside it. There are also yellow colour spotlights on the ceiling that add to the feel that you’re in an arena.”
Soon Pelin’s tone changed as she revealed a recent tragedy: She lost her father to cancer.
“I lost my father recently, and it was due to cancer that was detected late. Early detection is important and it can save your life,” a teary-eyed Pelin said.
“My father was a very fit person and he rarely fell ill at all. So, he was a bit adamant to go to hospital. But then this happened…” she muttered, before adding that her mother also suffered from cancer but successfully fought the disease.
In her efforts to raise cancer awareness, Pelin’s gym is joining hands with the Oman Cancer Association (OCA). The duo now hold fitness sessions, which include awareness talks, for free at public locations. Her aim is to raise money to help increase early detection of cancer in Oman.
“The OCA offers free mammogram for early detection of cancer, and if the money can somehow help it expand the services or help the people in any way, I would consider it positive.”
Her corporate social responsibility doesn’t end there, though. Pelin is an active member of the Omani Paws, and is known to be out on the streets feeding stray animals. “I used to take these leftover foods by 11pm and I would go pick it up and spread it around for these animals to feed on.”
Pelin has two dogs and one paralysed cat and hopes to help less fortunate animals.
The desire and determination to help people and animals is visible in her eyes, and surely Pelin will make her mark in what she does.
To know more, stay tuned for the video interview on Y’s Facebook page.
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