In 2006 when I returned to New Orleans after Katrina for my last semester at Tulane, I got an apartment off Magazine Street–away from campus and roommate-free for the first time. I felt so grown up, even though I was still in school, and was looking forward to my new “independence.” However, it left me faced with the predicament of getting new living room furniture, since it was something that had been split between roommates before.
I was excited about this prospect. That is, until I realized how much furniture actually costs in New Orleans (spoiler alert: not within a college student’s budget).
Then, a friend of mine suggested Ikea, where I found a ton of great stuff at a reasonable price. I was so excited and proud of myself for budgeting everything I needed for my living room. And, it was really cute to boot!
Once I found all of my essentials and coordinated them according to my desired color scheme, I confidently pressed the ‘check out’ button, assured that my parents would be proud of my newly acquired grown-up shopping skills.
I’ll skip the horrific details of what followed but, long story short, I ended up with a Craigslist couch and a stellar slipcover and coffee table from Target. I realized that after you press ‘check out,’ Ikea liked to crush your dreams of having affordable furniture by doubling the price of your order for the shipping. For years, I was bitter about this “ruse” I was convinced Ikea was behind.
Fast-forward four years, and New Orleans entrepreneur, Mehmet Ergelen, is faced with the same predicament. Except, instead of surrendering to a multi-colored Craigslist couch, Mehmet rented a U-Haul truck and made the pilgrimage to Houston to purchase his Swedish Ikea furniture. Although he had become very familiar with the Ikea products, and even the whole acquisition process after having lived in several cities around the world where Ikea was more accessible and part of the culture, he realized that the whole trip to go furniture shopping turned into quite the event.
This process has unfortunately been something that was very familiar to many people in the New Orleans area, but Mehmet used his experience to create a solution for those who were faced with the same issue. Since he has seen the value in Ikea products, he wanted to make the brand more accessible to the residents along the Gulf Coast. And thus, Bluebag was born.
Bluebag was founded with the idea of combining everyone’s Ikea orders, and doing the purchasing, delivery, and assembly for their customers. Mehmet wanted his company to create an on-demand experience for its clients, and integrate services that stretched beyond merely delivering their products. By helping his clients with the full process, he has built the brand around their fully integrated services by ensuring that everything from design to assembly is met, and aspires to create a bond and loyalty with his clients that will help him successfully grow to a national level.
Besides growing his company to different regions throughout the country, Mehmet hopes to create a bigger impact in New Orleans that stretches beyond helping the residents gain access to the affordable and high quality products from Ikea.
“I want to make an impact in New Orleans by creating a successful economic force that keeps money circulating locally rather than contributing it to other cities simply because we don’t have access to the product,” says Mehmet.
The entrepreneur also aspires to help other small business owners by setting an example with the way he delivers his brand. He says that he wants to create a model business that other striving startups can look to when creating and executing their brand image.
In early 2012, Bluebag will be opening their first showroom in New Orleans to further expand the experience to his clients.