Biomaterials startup Gozen named Sedef Uncu Aki as its chief product officer, according to a company news release Wednesday.
The company said Aki’s hire is part of a “new chapter” in material production. The announcement comes after its animal- and plastic-free leather alternative, called Lunaform, debuted at Balenciaga’s show during Paris Fashion Week last October.
Aki joins Gozen after working as the director of product development and research at denim brand Orta, per the release. Prior to Orta, she was general manager at textile company Bossa.
In her new role with Gozen, Aki will be responsible for the development and commercialization of Lunaform. Her leadership is expected to significantly contribute to the scaling company's production and help it launch products to “reinforce its status as a trailblazer in eco-conscious material development,” the company said in the release.
The news follows Gozen’s $3.3 million funding round in October. At the time, the company said it planned to use the money for the research and development of new materials and for scaling the production of Lunaform. It also said it planned to open a facility in Turkey to boost the annual production capacity of the material.
SOSV, one of the investors in that funding round, said at the time that while there are competitors in the animal-free leather space, it believed Gozen’s approach surpassed the others. One of its competitors, MycoWorks, makes mushroom-based leather alternative, and opened a commercial-scale production plant in South Carolina in 2023 after raising a $125 million funding round.
Gozen previously said it was targeting the automotive and fashion industries for its product, at a time when fashion brands seek to clean up their leather supply chains.