Susan finds success in America
She grew up in a small town in Turkey called Turgut Village. Her parents were vegetable farmers. She was the middle child of five brothers and sisters and she calls herself “the social one.” When she was young she dreamed of being a lawyer and owning her own business. In Turkey in order to go to a university, a big test had to be taken. She missed passing the test by one question, so instead attended a college to be an accountant. While attending college, she opened her own printing business, but after a year had to close it and return to live with her parents. Her name is Birsen Eden. We know her as Susan.
In 2001 she and her husband decided to go to America…the land of opportunity! She left Turkey with only one suitcase to her name. They traveled to Dallas where her husband had family. “When I came to the United States, I had nothing. I had lost my business, but I promised myself that things would be different,” recalls Susan. “I had no money, but I was determined to make it no matter what. I had never met my sister-in-law when we moved in with her. I am always thankful to her for opening her house and making me feel welcome.”
Her first job was working in a Greek restaurant in the Town East Mall. While there, Susan worked on improving her English and met a lot of people. After four years of working seven days a week from open to close, she was ready for something different. A friend came to her one day and said he knew someone that was looking for good, hardworking people to work in his Milano’s pizza stores. “They offered me more money than I was making, so I thought I’d give it a try.” He had her drive to a location in New Diana to check it out. When she drove into the small town and looked at the business, she had an uncomfortable feeling. She decided New Diana was not for her. Growing unhappier with her job in Mesquite, she called the Milano’s owner again. This time he sent her to Mt. Vernon. “It was worse than New Diana,” stated Susan. “It’s a really old town.” He then suggested they drive to a little town on the other side of Longview called Tatum. “We drove from Mesquite, and when we got to Longview and turned on Highway 149, I felt a warm feeling about being there. I told my husband, ‘you know, I think I’m gonna like this area.’ The town was small and the store was small, but I liked it.”
The owner’s nephew ran the store, so Susan went to Tatum as an employee of Milano’s. She rented a house that was built in 1912 and furnished it with odds and ends she could find around town. Determined to make a success of her move, it wasn’t long before business began to increase. She had learned how to run a business in Mesquite, plus her outgoing personality allowed her to meet people and make friends with her customers quickly. And she could cook. “My mom trained me since I was 7 years old. Growing up in a small town, you have to know how to cook.” Three months later the owner decided to sell the business, but Susan was not financially ready to take on that responsibility. She knew she didn’t want to go back to Dallas. She couldn’t get a loan to buy the store because she didn’t have enough credit established. She was talking to a neighbor about her situation and he told her, “Good things come to good people. I will help you find the money.” The next day he brought her enough cash to buy half the store. He didn’t ask her to sign a contract…her word was good enough for him. Susan knows this was a miracle from God.
Now that Susan was a partner, the business was doing great. She was making a salary, plus earning half the profits from the store. Within eightmonths she was able to buy the other half of the business and within another year was able to pay off the loan to her neighbor. In 2007 friends from Carthage convinced her she needed to open a Milano’s in Carthage. She already had good business from Carthage people who would stop coming thru Tatum. Once again, her business expertise and her friendly personality enabled her to open another successful store. In 2010, her brother, Irfan, came from Turkey to help run the business. In March of this year, her other brother will come to run the Tatum store. Susan has started a new venture with rental property. She has built 12 new duplexes in Tatum, with more to come, and she rents them as fast as she can build them. The only thing that has been a damper to Susan has been learning how to understand the slow, East Texas drawl.
She’s kept the promise she made to herself when she came to America and she’s learned a good lesson while here—good things happen to good people.