Gamze Neill

Founder of Light and Soft

Gamze Neill is the owner and operator of Light and Soft, a start-up children’s clothing and accessory company that specializes in soft sole shoes. After University, Gamze worked as a market researcher in her home city of Istanbul Turkey, where she learned many crucial skills involved in running a business, and how to market to customers. In 2016 Gamze moved to Vancouver Canada, where she learned English and met her husband Eric. While in Vancouver Gamze also worked for a baby clothes company, which greatly influenced her ideas for her business Light and Soft. Now based in Orange County California, Gamze is determined and focused to bring her dream to reality as a small business owner!

Where did the idea for Light and Soft come from?

I used to work as a Marketing Researcher and I love researching! I always wanted to start my own business and my ideology was always do the opposite of what other people do! I also love kids and I always want to do something related to kids! I found that there are no other brands that make soft soles that you can wear indoor and outdoor and you can wash in the machine! I have been observing that almost all the shoes in the kid’s market carry boring neutral colors, but I think kids should have fun and exciting designs that they enjoy! I wanted to do something different than my competitors to bring colors and fun to their feet that can protect but also be breathable and comfortable! Generally, kids don`t like shoes because they are quite large relative to their size and there is no room to grow for their feet. However, our soft soles have a lot of room to grow, are super light and soft, and have a wide variety of designs to choose from. They love to wear them because they are not seeing them as shoes, there are seeing our product as something exciting! We also carry matched backpacks!

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I have to schedule every action for my day! I am very much a multi-tasking person however this is sometimes not good for me because I can jump over between topics unconsciously while I am working on something! Also, I have a lot of personal hobbies and I have to schedule my life that I have to make sure that I am giving equal time to my every goal!

How do you bring ideas to life?

It may sound weird but playing piano daily is one of my favorite hobbies as it relaxes my mind and reduces my stress. While I am playing, I realized that I could think deeper about what I have learned, and it gives me inspiration for my future projects! The exact same thing happens while I am playing tennis as well. I must do something that clears my mind to think deeper and prepare for myself to research more thoroughly!

What’s one trend that excites you?

Minimalism! Decide what`s important for you and get rid of the excess! Stop making excuses and buy only for what you need! When I started doing this, I realized that I have more free time to spend for other useful things for my life and more space and freedom in my house to share with my family!

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

My hobbies! I have lots of hobbies that are not related at all to my professional life! You need a balance between these 2 lives! Since I work and live the vast majority of my day at home, I find hobbies help balance you out! I cook, bake, learn Japanese, play piano, play tennis, sewing, knitting, hiking, biking, and more. It may seem counter-intuitive to do so many things, but I think it brings balance and peace which in the end helps me stay productive and efficient.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Don’t procrastinate! Sleep early and wake up early, don’t miss the day! Don’t eat everything you crave, haha! Lastly, find real hobbies for yourself! I found my hobbies after my 30`s and It completely changed my personal and professional life! I realized how confident I have been actually, but I couldn’t tell myself that! The only obstacle in front of you is yourself!

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

In my culture, I am used to being more directly honest with people! Here in North America, it is a little bit different than what I am used to! People here are overly concerned about offending people and a lot of things sugarcoated! For example, if any of my friends in Turkey dyed their hair and asks my opinion, and I happened to not like it. I could tell them the truth, and it would not be considered rude, just honest. In my home country if you sugarcoat and say what they want to hear and if they realize what you are doing, they will get offended! However, this is the opposite in North America and I feel like honesty is much more important than avoiding offense, especially with loved ones.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Follow your instinct! I am not saying to not listen to other people! On the contrary, listen to everyone, read lots of articles and find your truth, and do not let anyone stop you! You may fail but this failure may lead you to your success! If you already have every component to make your dream real (time, money, and information), take that first step!

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

I want to refer to one of the old sayings that “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. Just because you open a business doesn’t mean you’re going to immediately start making money. It takes time to let people know who you are, so stay focused and do your best!

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Trusting the wrong people! We may not know exactly which people are right or wrong for us or our business! It may sometimes take years to understand! When you become an entrepreneur, it is very important to learn that nothing is personal in this professional life and you have to learn to say “No.” I don`t like to say “no” at all but it is important if you want to keep hold of your business as a new business owner! Don`t forget, this is your dream and your company!

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

One idea that I had was to create an app that you can only sell baby/kids products or furniture! Baby products are the second-highest resale market because of how quickly kids grow up without hardly using the products! I believe a product like this would help people to save money but also be beneficial to the environment!

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

Flight ticket to Puerta Vallarta with my husband and our friends! 2020 was tough for everyone and we have been moving quite a lot of times with my husband to find the right place for ourselves! We eventually settled in California and then the pandemic hit! We had plans to travel around Asia and Europe however we know that it is not going to happen any time soon! However, we may go somewhere closer and relax and enjoy with our friends! Also, celebrate our anniversary and my birthday 🙂

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

Google Drive, or any cloud service. It makes your life easier and accessible! You can reach any documents anywhere with any device! Let`s you share lots of good memories with your family or friends in seconds!

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Malcolm Gladwell – Outliers: The Story of Success
Malcolm Gladwell explores the different factors that decide the difference between successful and unsuccessful people. Many of the stories are based on statistics. One story tells of the Canadian hockey league and the statistic that the vast majority of all successful hockey players are born in January, February or March. Because the cutoff date for signing children is January 1, and those born in the first three months have a distinct advantage in age, experience and size in relation to those they play against. That same cutoff is used by other countries as well and he explains every single details! He is a very amazing and talented story teller and this book is very easy to read and follow!

What is your favorite quote?

Don’t be afraid to take the first step!

Key Learnings:

  • I created my brand with lots of passion and love! Light and Soft is trying to bring comfort, joy, and lots of smiles to every single family! When I hear or see them that they are also in love with my product, it feels like a million bucks 🙂
  • To achieve business success you need to plan your every single step. List your to-do tasks, mark it when you complete it! This will ensure that you’re not forgetting anything and completing all the tasks that are essential for your business!
  • Life is hard itself, don`t try to make it harder for yourself! Let yourself to decide everything if you want to do. Always do what makes you happy and don`t be scared to say NO if you don`t want to do!