Coccinella is a Latin term for ladybug. Ladybugs are not only naturally attractive with their bright red and black markings; they’re also good for the environment. So when the Kaplan family named their new shop at 50th and France after this small but mighty creature, they were signaling an appreciation for nature, its beauty and sustainability. That’s what you’ll find at Coccinella, a distinctively Mediterranean boutique with premium olive oils and vinegars, luxurious Turkish cotton textiles and a unique curation of artwork.
The shop’s concept had been in the works for some time and finally came to fruition once Suayip and Seher Kaplan’s sons Umut and Cosku transferred to colleges in Minnesota. The sons have been educated in the U.S. since high school after the family hosted a foreign exchange student in their home in Turkey. The Kaplans had such a wonderful experience hosting an international student and felt there was tremendous benefit to an international education, so they wanted to give their children a similar opportunity. After graduating from high school in New Hampshire, the boys went on to Michigan State University and later transferred to Minnesota where Cosku studies automotive engineering at Minnesota State Mankato and Umut will soon earn an engineering degree from the University of Minnesota.
While here, the family noted Minnesota, and Edina in particular, seemed the perfect place to launch the concept his parents had in mind.
“People here appreciate quality textiles in their kitchens and homes,” Umut says. “My parents are also very health conscious. They make sure to get in their 10,000 steps each day and they know the health benefits of high quality olive oil, organics and nutrition.”
So after 30 years in the insurance industry in Turkey, Seher came to Minnesota to join her sons and open Coccinella at 50th and France. Suayip still lives in Turkey to run the family’s renewable energy business and travels back and forth. Unlike Umut and Cosku who’ve lived in the states for several years, Seher’s English speaking skills are still limited. She attends English as a second language classes through community education and has hired Lizbeth Post, as store manager, to help get the shop running. Umut helps out when he can, but his parents want him to focus on his education and possibly pursue his own career in renewable energy.
Even without any retail experience, this family is convinced that success can come when shoppers discover the value of their unique products.
“All of the products come from the Mediterranean,” Post says. “All of the textiles are 100 percent Turkish cotton … and the high quality olive oils have many health benefits.”
Maybe you’ve noticed the recent trend toward Turkish towels, or peshtemals, as they’re called in the Mediterranean. A peshtemal is a traditional Turkish towel with a history that dates back hundreds of years for use at Persian saunas and baths. Considered highly absorbent and with a faster drying time than thicker terry cotton towels, these light-weight peshtemals pack easily and make perfect picnic blankets, beach towels and swimsuit cover-ups. Their appealing colors and patterns mean they also look great in the kitchen and bathroom and look lovely as a tablecloth or runner. Versatility is combined with durability and comfort. Post says, “they get softer each time you wash them.” We were pleased to discover that these mostly hand-woven, organic cotton Turkish towels start at just $25, making them a wonderful gift item for the upcoming holiday and winter travel season.
Post notes that the exclusive olive oils and vinegars at Coccinella can also make great holiday or hostess gifts. She says high quality olive oil can help lower bad cholesterol and contains anti-inflammatory properties. Umut says, “Olive oil is good for your skin and can help fight disease, but only if it’s processed a certain way and packaged in a non-transparent bottle to help the product not lose its quality.”
The shop carries three varieties of Oleaiva extra virgin olive oil: early harvest, extra virgin and organic extra virgin. It’s this purity, meticulous harvesting and bottling practices that the Kaplans believe make their products superior to what shoppers might find elsewhere.
The Kaplans believe this commitment to quality will catch on and that they’ll also be able to offer these olive oils wholesale to restaurants and other gourmet retailers. For now, Coccinella is the only place you can find these unique varieties. Samples are offered in store. You’ll also want to sample their apple cider and balsamic vinegars, one of which is so rich and delicious, it’s like dessert in a bottle.
While in store, you’ll find yourself surrounded by beautiful Mediterranean pottery, blown glass, fused glass tables and paintings. Many of the items are sourced directly from artisans in Turkey. The Kaplans also want to support the local art community and make some shop space available for trunk shows and gallery style exhibitions among the beautifully unique display of artwork most any discerning home décor and gift buyer can appreciate.
Opening Coccinella in Edina at 50th and France just felt right to the Kaplans. “It’s an established community that’s still growing. It’s becoming a destination location that reaches beyond just Edina residents,” Post says. Edina is also a perfect spot to dream the American dream, be welcomed into a sense of community and build a business and a home.