Throw in the towel for perfect Sheffield packing

Ayca Taylor with some of the traditional cotton Turkish peshtemal towels she is selling.
Ayca Taylor with some of the traditional cotton Turkish peshtemal towels she is selling.
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PACKING for holidays can be a headache, especially with baggage allowances piling on the pounds.

But Ayca Taylor from Sheffield has a secret – and she’s set up a business to share it.

Instead of packing bulky beach towels for her holidays, Turkish-born Ayca swears by traditional Turkish towels and garments which are far smaller and weigh far less.

Now Ayca, who came to Sheffield 12 years ago to study English Language and Literature at university, has set up an online business supplying them. The idea came about after the single mum, who works in the pharmacy at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital as a dispenser, overheard colleagues discussing how much extra luggage charges cost these days.

They all agreed the main cause was the bulk of towels – but Ayca, aged 30, told them she never has a problem.

Her secret is the peshtemal, a traditional Turkish towel used in hammans since the times of the Ottoman Empire.

Peshtemal towels are made from soft cotton and woven in Buldan, in the province of Denizli, Turkey. Throughout history they have been woven on hand-looms by women and still provide the main income for families in Buldan.

“Once washed, they absorb water just as quickly as terry towels but take up less space, meaning they are perfect for travelling,” said Ayca.

Ayca, who lives in Brightmore Drive, Netherthorpe, with four-year-old daughter Tuana, has now set about supplying the lightweight towels which can also be used as body wraps. And she has created a range of bathrobes, also hand woven from organic cotton.

“I took some into work and my colleagues were very interested,” she said. “Then I set up a website – www.towelux.co.uk – and I’ve been staggered by the number of hits.

“It’s nice to think people are interested in something that is part of my culture. Turkish people have used them for centuries – I remember my gran using a peshtemal as did her grandma before her.”