Staci Wagner Hamalis is no Shirley Valentine. After getting engaged to her Greek partner she left a jet-setting corporate career and moved to Greece, but instead of wiling away her days sipping ouzo in the sun, she immediately set up a dynamic business making artisanal soaps.
Discovering more and more about the Greek landscape and artisanal traditions during each visit to the home of her parents-in-law in Kavala, eastern Macedonia, Hamalis eventually tried her hand at making soaps and fell in love with it.
“My father in law made the traditional, old fashioned, wooden soap-making molds for me and taught me age-old techniques,” she says. Her husband too, a website design company owner, helped her set up a strong online presence that has helped make her products known – chiefly to Americans at first, and now increasingly to customers across Europe as well.
“I love the Greek culture and richness of nature here and wanted to share this with others, which why in my brand you will find inspiration from Greece in the products and in the packaging,” Hamalis says.
The all-natural soaps are made using olive oil from northern Greece and almond oil from the region of Volos, as well as organic coconut oil from abroad. The company combines these skin-friendly oils with essential oils made from Greek herbs and flowers such as lavender, rosemary, eucalyptus and peppermint. Non-Greek organic ingredients sourced from small producers are also used, such as lemongrass, activated charcoal, Early Grey tea, sandalwood and patchouli.
Vilia Soap Company will also soon be launching ‘keralyfi’ – beeswax and olive oil-based lotions, beauty face serums, skin toners and lip balms.