Made in the Aegean

Whatever happens in the Aegean doesn’t always stay in the Aegean! Meet the island entrepreneurs thinking big


Fresh, creative things are happening in the Aegean archipelago. City-dwellers are leaving their offices in search of a more relaxed lifestyle and a fresh start. Tourists who come on holiday, decide to set up camp and create new, modern businesses, blending innovative ideas with older local traditions. Let’s meet some of those bold and brave who decided to resettle by the sea, turning their passions into cool products.

Surfboards and smiles

CΗΑΝΙΑ

Three friends who met in the water knew immediately what united them: the “surfness“. That is how Stefanos Korres, Yiannis Kritikos and Konstantinos Karakostaw describe the emotion: “it’s the smile you have on your face when you’ve just finished a surf session; and only those who surf can understand.” They travelled together to Indonesia, Brazil, and Mauritius, chasing waves and trying out different kinds of boards, until they decided to make their own. They decided to base themselves in Chania, Crete (because “worst-case scenario, you’re only an hour away from one of the best surf spots in Greece”) and established their own brand, Salty Drop. Their boards are hand-made, built from fiberglass by an experienced board shaper in Bali; so far, there are five different models. Υou will undoubtedly admire and appreciate the designs, for which Eirini Kokogiannaki is responsible, that give each board a character all its own. You’ll also find a host of other products, such as t-shirts, caps and accessories in their collection. The team also accepts orders for custom-made boards. •  www.saltydrop.com

“My skin hasn’t felt so fresh since I was a child!”

Aegina

Marina Koriolano-Lykourezou, a cosmopolitan Greek-Brazilian gallery manager, decided that after several years of living in England and France, it was time to sail away and base herself in the Oros area of Aegina. Why? So she could watch the sun set behind the island’s mountains every day. Her business, ‘TheCoolProjects’, was born almost immediately. “When working with your hands, you really get into a near- meditative state,” says Marina, who spends her days at her workshop at the harbor together with her partner Giannis Zagorianakos – making soap from cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil and aromatic essential oils. Their method of preparation helps keep all the cosmetic properties of the vegetable oils fresh, and their products offer a gentle cleansing experience. The purity of their soap has already garnered many fans. As an 80-year-old mother of a friend of the couple comments, “my skin hasn’t felt this way since I was a child!” Besides soaps, the couple also produces soap dishes, towels and other hand-made objects and accessories. • www.coolgreeksoap.com

The rhythm of a life less hurried

Ikaria

Longevity is not the aim of those from Ikaria, it’s a way of life. Nobody here is anxious to live to 100 and because of this very reason, they actually live for 100 years,” says Ersi Electra Xenakis, founder of Icaria Pure – a company dedicated to local products. “The character of the people here really touches me; it’s frugal but with humor, solidarity, and profound social conscience. I like the slowness of the island very much; I feel I am in my natural environment. All this has inspired my work, and I want our products to offer people the chance to get to know the island.” Ersi, who was born in Ikaria, spent all her summers here, and ended up combining her love for the island with another big passion of hers: quality food. All the Icaria Pure products (including honey, pickles, bulbs, sea fennel, jams and aromatic plants) come from small-scale producers and cooperatives. • www.icariapure.com

Made from the earth, inspired by the sea

Paros

Boston-native Monique Mailloux arrived in Paros to study at the Aegean Center for the Fine Arts, and never left. Working with clay, stoneware, and porcelain from day one, she says that the Aegean has inspired much of her pottery, which has an island feel, but can also fit in anywhere and everywhere. Her white dish sets, for example, which feature a blue octopus design in the center, can be found in the famous Dean & DeLuca delicatessen in Soho, New York. Monique spends her days in the studio – located in the courtyard of an old mansion – working alongside her daughter Ramona Ghika who, after studying at Central Saint Martins in London, also decided to live permanently on the island. “It’s an incredible blessing to wake up in the morning and come to my clay oven,” Monique says, talking about Yria Ceramics, a place where people come to shop or sometimes just to watch these women mold and bake their little wonders. • www.yriaparos.com

Would you wear a fishing boat?

Syros

How can a 50 year-old fishing boat live on forever? Just make sunglasses out of it. At least that’s what Helen Vakondiou and Periklis Therio have done with her grandfather Giannis’ retired vessel, a boat that fed the family for three generations. The creative duo decided to extend its usefulness beyond the sea by putting the wood back to work. The new collection by their brand, Zylo Eyewear, is called Grégos and features unique pairs of wooden sunglasses, made by hand, using only parts of the old hull. The pieces of wood have been preserved in their original state, without any rubbing or processing work, and carry the charming wear-and-tear acquired during the boat’s journeys across the sea. • zyloeyewear.com

What my grandma taught me

Skopelos

Euthalia Stamataki recalls going to her grandmother’s house as a child and feeling intoxicated by the cleanliness and the aroma of olive oil everywhere. A born-and-raised native of Skopelos, Euthalia’s grandmother used to make olive oil soaps which she used for showering, washing clothes and cleaning the house. She also made keralifi (a balm) from beeswax, olive oil, and herbs, which worked wonders on insect bites and eczema and which she used as a moisturizing cream, too. Today, it is Euthalia who creates modern cosmetics inspired by the recipes passed down to her. Local olive oil is always the main ingredient but she also uses another wondrous substance: cistus – a wild native herb with antioxidant and regenerative properties. • euthalia.com.gr

Waiting for the boat, in style

Thessaloniki

“You don’t have to go to a posh gala to wear bow ties,” says George Goniadis, who had become accustomed to wearing a bow tie to work while living in France. When he came back to Greece, however, he wasn’t able to find bow ties that he liked. “The top-quality ones were far too expensive,” he explains. So he began making his own. His bow ties are handmade with needle and thread. They are glue-free and the fabrics he uses are non-synthetic and mostly come from small shops in and around Thessaloniki. One can select from a variety of materials: cotton, velvet, lace, wool, felt, and even wood. Designs range from classic polka dots to more modern stripes, with many other original styles in between. Buyers receive their items in attractive, aromatic cotton pouches, which can be used to store the bow-ties. Who cares about posh gala? • www.papigion.gr

 

*Originally published in Thalassea Magazine by Hellenic Seaways

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