Stefania Niakarou Simou
An avid traveler and photography lover, Stefania Niakarou Simou is the founder and CEO of Mysterious Greece, an online publication aimed at highlighting unknown locations across Greece, proving it can be an all-year round destination. Born from the desire to fill the gap of information concerning lesser-known locations, she launched her publication, providing insider’s tips and travel guides. Originally from Athens, Stefania moved to London where she got a BA in Public Relations as well as Masters in Event Management. After interning for several companies in London, she returned to Athens and eventually landed a job as a travel writer at Kathemerini, one of the leading newspapers in the country. Presenting the authentic face of Greece, Mysterious Greece was established in 2013 but it seems Stefania won’t stop there, she hopes to expand her area of expertise to other countries. She is seriously unstoppable.
Ever been tired of the same typical touristic visits when travelling? Enter Alternative Athens, a company which operates alternative thematic tours and activities that take you off the beaten track in Greece. Focusing on offering an authentic experience while presenting the non-touristic aspects of Greece, Alternative Athens is the brainchild of Tina Sklavolia-Kyriakis, a former marketing professional with plenty of experience in the field of PR, marketing and consulting as well as in screenwriting. Tired of the corporate world, she took a leap of faith and established Alternative Athens. It was a smart move, since the company has been awarded Tripadvisor’s Certificate of Excellence and has been featured in countless publications, including CNN Travel, National Geographic, The Guardian, Le Monde and The Independent.
Don’t ever let anyone crush your dreams and tell you that you can’t succeed. This is probably advice that pharmacist Niki Koutsiana would give to anyone asking her the secret of her success. A pioneer in the entrepreneur field, Niki Koutsiana set up with her husband, also a pharmacist and beekeeper, one of the leading natural cosmetic brands in Europe, APIVITA. She didn’t listen to those who told her she was a hopeless romantic for wanting to take advantage of a Greek natural product to create cosmetics. But today, after over 35 years, she is at the head of a fast-growing cosmetics company, which holds an important position in Greece and many subsidiaries abroad, with around 30% of its total sales being exports. Koutsiana’s simple success story is another example that determination can take you anywhere.
If you have ever been to Greece, you know that one of the best souvenirs you can take home with you is a pair of 100% leather sandals, the basic of any summer outfit in Greece. While you may find hundreds of sandal stores in touristic areas, one brand stands out. Ancient Greek Sandals, which includes a wide collection of leather sandals, skillfully created by local craftsmen and designed by the co-founder of the company, Christina Martini. Armed with a BA in Footwear Design and Product Development from Cordwainers College, Martini has worked as a shoe designer for Balenciaga and Louis Vuitton abroad before returning to her homeland with her family and creating the company with Nikolas Minoglou. The little company now sells a vast collection of sandals and now has boutiques and retail outlets in Greece and abroad.
An engineer, social entrepreneur and public speaker since 2008, Ioanna Fotopoulou is a force to be reckoned with. Recognised by many international organisations like One Young World, Clinton Global Initiative (CGIU) and Social Impact Awards for her social initiatives against corruption in Greece (notably in the tax evasion system as well as at the level of local governments), she currently runs two companies. The first, Simple, Rocks, is a digital agency that focuses on helping businesses create the best strategies to achieve sustainability and find the right clients online; while her second company, Model for a Cause, focuses on helping the environment through the fashion industry. Believing we can all contribute to lowering the industry environmental footprint, she sells vintage clothing along with an ethical clothing line to bring awareness to the issue of fast fashion.
Putting Mediterranean herbs on the map, Evangelia Koutsovoulou left her job as a journalist to embark on what most would say was a risky venture. But her boldness paid off. Daphnis & Chloe is a shop specializing in Greek herbs and spices from small producers from across the mainland and the islands to make them available to the modern-day customers. After researching and selecting the best of the best, in terms of spices, herbs and even teas and infusions, she sells her products in a little workshop near the Acropolis and ships some to shops and kitchens across the globe. Don’t hesitate to visit her store the next time you are in Athens, otherwise, you can find a full list of stockists on her website.
To all the girls (and men) into bold patterns and sleek lines, Kimalé is a fun fashion brand created in 2013 by Irène Mamfredos, a Greek/French fashion designer, who worked with Balenciaga, and Aliki Demi, friend and pattern-maker. Embracing the concept of slow-fashion, Kimalé mixes African fabrics with clean-cut silhouettes, sourcing the fabrics from associations active in Togo and Burkina Faso to support local artisans. The brand also includes a few jewelry items and accessories and can be found in any true fashionista’s wardrobe.