What fuelled your passion to create Ouli’s Ointment?
Ouli’s came about when my grandmother, Yiayia, fell ill. It made me realise how she had always been my tie to my Greek roots. She taught me the language and I cherished summers spent with her on the island of Zakynthos. When she got sick, I knew I had to make something that was a dedication to her, our family olive groves and her nurturing ways.
What’s your greatest motivation?
Without a doubt, my son. He keeps the fire burning under me and motivates me to be the best person I can.
How long was the process of setting up the business and creating your product before you finally were selling to the public?
From idea to market, it was about a year and a half.
What has been your greatest success?
Honestly, just getting Ouli’s out into the world. Creating a brand—even though it’s a single product—and merely being a human is a constant challenge, but wthe fact it’s out there is the greatest success I could ask for. The brilliant press reaction and reviews are more than I could have dreamed; none of this would have been possible without lots of amazing people along the way.
What has been your biggest struggle?
Growing my child at the same time, as they were both born in November 2015. My struggle is ensuring I am doing what’s right for him and remembering that I am a mother first and foremost—my career will always be second. It’s an internal battle: being self employed for the past 12 years, I became used to pushing through and making work my priority. Then, when I had my son, I had to learn to let go and pause to enjoy life.
Can you tell us about your background—what were you doing before Ouli’s Ointment?
I was born in America, but grew up mostly in Europe from the age of two. Having lived in eight different countries, culture and travel became part of my backbone. I studied Fine Art at Surrey Institute, focusing on sculpture which I loved, but knew I wasn’t patient enough to create a career as a sculptor. Then, when I discovered being a make-up artist was a viable career, I knew instantly that it was what I needed to do for a living. Working for myself, being creative, travelling, meeting new people: I did that for 12 years, and I loved it. My choice wasn’t a decision based on make-up products, it was based on a love for creating, which was the real driving force behind my simple skincare line, too.
How do you set yourself apart from your competitors?
As a make-up artist in the industry, I found there weren’t many natural balms that covered all the beauty bases—I wanted to fill that gap. Ouli’s sets it self apart from other balms because it doesn’t’ leave your skin feeling slathered or greasy; plus, it actually helps hold make-up in place.
Who inspires you?
Genuinely, my son. He teaches me to go into the fear, embrace who I am, be determined to get what I want and look at the world with a different perspective.
Do you have any advice for entrepreneurs starting their own brand?
Follow your heart and your intuition. There will be challenges along the way but let that push you further and higher, and believe you are capable of creating everything you imagine. Also, don’t splurge any money you make in the beginning—save it for later down the line.
How do you get through a challenging period?
I’m a firm believer there’s lessons to be learned in every challenge, so I always try and identify with what it’s trying to teach me. Deep down, I know if I work hard, there’s success at the end of it—that keeps me going. And always remember to laugh.
If you hadn’t started Ouli’s Ointment, what would you be doing?
I have no idea—you never know where you’re being led until you’re there. I know I’d be looking after my son and likely continuing to champion green beauty as a make-up artist.
There’s so much more to having a good idea in the beauty business, what else do you think is key?
Above all else, passion and vision. Almost everything already exists, so make it special because it’s yours.
What’s your workwear uniform?
Jeans and tank tops—sometimes an apron and gloves if I’m concocting.
How do you unwind?
By taking a bath, going for a swim or a horse ride—it’s important to press pause sometimes.
Where or who do you look to to learn from?
From within myself. I have a life coach and I love learning about myself—I firmly believe when we work on what’s inside, it has the power to affect everything around us.
Where do you see the business in five years time?
Bigger and stocked worldwide as a universal staple in everyone’s handbag or at-home kit. Oh, and the possibly of expanding the product range.
Do you think success comes from luck or hard work?
Hard work can make anything happen. I trust that we’re given what we put in.
Do you have a mentor? If so, how have they helped you?
My mentor isn’t someone in beauty, it’s my life coach. Having a life coach means I hold myself accountable and I’ve learned to approach anything I’m given with courage, willingness and determination; no matter how big the challenge.
Yesterday I was... at the beach
Tomorrow I will be... where I’m meant to be
Success is... in the ordinary things
I learn the most when I... let go
My brand is... simple and effective
My saving grace is... my son
I motivate myself by... loving my job