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Ekaterina Botziou: Myths & Legends of a 21st-Century Vlogger
by Chris Salboudis
Ekaterina Botziou is a rising star dedicated to putting Greek culture and heritage on the map through a variety of professional and philanthropic projects and publications. Her work has been celebrated in various publications since 2014, including the Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/author/ekaterina-botziou) and Philo4Thought’s Hellenic Mentoring Initiative (http://www.philo4thought.org/botziou_e). More recently, she has been nominated as an award recipient in the “Reader’s Choice Category” of the Brit Mums Brilliance in Blogging Awards (http://www.britmums.com/awards) for her blog, Ekaterina’s Greek Expectations. The winner will be announced at the Brit Mums Blogging Awards at the end of September 2017, to which Ekaterina is really looking forward. “Just being nominated felt like such an achievement in itself and has given me that extra motivation to carry on and make the blog bigger and better!”
Ekaterina’s journey begins with her initial pursuit of a career as a criminal barrister, during which time she wrote articles for a series of student publications. After earning her Law degree (specializing in Medical Law and Criminology), she continued her theatrical training at various institutes – including the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art – while conducting administrative work in legal and financial sectors. In 2012, Ekaterina was offered a permanent post in a top financial firm in London. She also met her husband during this time and was married shortly thereafter, which led to the inception of her first blog project, The Greek Wives Club.
Freelance writing fulfills her combined creative and professional ambitions. “There are so many paths a person can take in life, but right now I feel that I’ve tested the waters and am moving in the right direction… My attempts to do something worthwhile and spread good cheer are reflected through my community blogs and publications…”
She founded The Greek Wives Club (http://thegreekwivesclub.com) in 2012 after marrying into a Greek Cypriot family and writing her first book, Greek Expectations: The Last Moussaka Standing (http://www.ekaterinabotziou.com/greek1a.html). The concept of the group was based on one of her favorite comedies – The First Wives Club – and with a plan to create a space for Greek women, women who live in Greece and Cyprus, and women who have married into Greek families to share their more comical life experiences. “Despite being half Greek myself I still wasn’t completely prepared for the onslaught of a Greek marriage, and so the Club began as sort of a refuge for women suffering the same fate! In 2015, I launched The Greek Wives Club website to make the group more official and place all our areas of interest in one online platform where people can find us easily. In a nutshell, The GWC aims to educate, empower and inspire women (and any men!) teetering on the edge of Mount Olympus by providing information on Greek marriage, traditions, language, health and much more. Whether you are looking to start up your own business, write your own book, plan a holiday to the Greek islands or just learn more about the Greek culture, we have dedicated sections on our website to help. You don’t have to be Greek to join, but you do need to have a sense of humor!”
In creating The GWC website, Ekaterina enlisted the help of various professional women with expertise in different Greek fields. “The digital team is here to advise and direct anyone who wants to get out of the Greek kitchen and start smashing some plates. The team includes Greek language specialists, travel experts, chefs, wedding planners and more. Our goal is to help provide our readers with useful information. We also invite others to promote GWC initiatives on their own platforms.” The initiative, which started out as a platform on which Ekaterina shared her own short stories, soon grew into a vast community network of bloggers and authors that touches upon important sociological themes including living with cultural differences and finding resources for family support.
Today, The GWC offers a broad network of contacts and connections to help educate, support and entertain women from all walks of life. The aim remains to reach out to and show support to women, other clubs, groups, restaurants, writers, artists and communities all over the world who want to share anything related to life amongst the Greek community. The business section provides advertising opportunities, sponsored posts and a business directory for any brands or companies looking to expand their online presence.
In addition to creating this novel international women’s network, Ekaterina also “Inspired and frustrated by the madness of my own Big Fat semi-Greek Life, I decided to chronicle my Hellenic dramas on the blog at the same time as writing my first book, Greek Expectations: The Last Moussaka Standing. What started out as a hobby soon became a platform for the expression of my literary, philosophical and social goals (http://www.ekaterinasgreekexpectations.com), which helped pave the way for my book, which I self-published in 2013. Part memoir, part rant, part-survival guide, Greek Expectations lends humorous insight into the trials and tribulations of being a modern woman faced with the demands of age-old Greek traditions and how to cope!”
When asked about how she manages the specific challenges of the publication industry, Ekaterina says, “When looking for a publisher, on the whole, feedback was very positive, but I was told by several literary agents that the book was too short, or that it wouldn’t appeal to the masses. One even wanted me to change the entire story. Rejection is commonplace in both the literary and acting world, and it can be very frustrating when an idea you think will be a success is torn apart and turned into something completely different. While of course it is important to consider constructive criticism and be able to adapt if the need suits, you should never lose sight of your initial aim. I knew what the aim of my book was and I wanted it to have a unique twist on the average ‘growing up with a crazy family’ tale. In the end, my decision to self‐publish proved to be the right one. I didn’t have the recognition of a well‐known publishing PR team, or the advantage of a top cover designer, but I knew my own creative and marketing strengths were good enough and I was able to create the book exactly as I wanted.”
In 2014, Ekaterina published her second book, Theseus & the Mother-in-Law and other Myths & Legends (http://www.ekaterinasgreekexpectations.com/theseus-the-mother-in-law). The book is refreshingly humorous parody that lends a modern-day perspective to a variety of classical Greek myths and legends from the tale of Hercules’ Twelve Labors to that of Theseus and the Cretan Minotaur.
In addition to her personal writing, Ekaterina also contributes to a variety of magazines. She writes a monthly segment for Cypriot newsletter The Oroklini News (https://www.facebook.com/TheOrokliniNews) and the Prestige Publications’ high‐end production, Status Magazine (https://www.facebook.com/StatusMagazine.eu).
Shortly before the birth of her first son in 2015, Ekaterina published her first (non-Greek) short story, “Seraphina” (http://ekaterinabotziou.com/greek2b.html) a fantasy tale about a young girl who is tragically affected by a despotic regime and forced to overcome all odds to avenge her parents’ death.
She has also gradually branched out onto YouTube to expand her online presence, using her new vlogs to drive more traffic towards her various publications. “You can find so many inspiring YouTubers out there who create fun, uplifting and useful content! I find parenting vlogs particularly helpful at this stage in my life and I hope that my videos will, in turn, help, amuse and inspire viewers too!”
Today – the proud mother of two young boys – Ekaterina is still running strong with her writing projects and is preparing a series of children’s books, returning to her main theme of Greek mythology once again.
When asked if there were ever any moments of doubt or potential failure, Ekaterina says, “If you truly believe in something you have to pick yourself up and come back stronger…. I always have lots of projects on the go whether it is a short film that I’m involved with, or an article that I’m writing. You have to be prepared for things to go off course sometimes – I had to cancel a short music video I was making as several of my cast dropped out at the last minute. Instead, my camera‐man and I lined up another project and used the weekend to put together a voice‐over. There is always a silver lining.”
The twenty-first century is definitely an era in which both parents are expected to contribute to the financial and sociological stability of their home and children. We asked Ekaterina how she manages to juggle her civic engagement projects along with her writing and family responsibilities. “I think it is extremely difficult to balance work and family life when you are a mom, especially if you have young children. Support from family is vital. Returning to work after having a baby seems to be a controversial topic, even today. Some people find it absolutely abhorrent that any mother would contemplate ‘leaving her baby behind’ to pursue her career. Others welcome the dual life as a type of escapism. In reality, most parents have no choice. Working to support one’s family is a basic necessity of our time. In my opinion, no one should ever question a woman’s right to decide whether or not to return to work. It’s a private choice.”
Of all the hats she wears and titles she has held over the years, Ekaterina’s favorite title is definitely “Mama”! She explains that she returned to her full-time job in the financial industry after having her first child. “I did it purely for financial reasons and I found it heartbreaking. However, the leap from one child to two (or more) is huge, and I do not intend to return to a full-time job now that I have had my second son.” Instead of dwelling on the reasons that her full-time employer denied her request to work at a part-time capacity, Ekaterina smiles and maintains a positive attitude. “I have taken this as a sign to focus on my writing and other entrepreneurial endeavors. Now I can work around my children’s schedules. They have and always will be my first priority. I have always enjoyed working and it definitely to be in a thriving, professional environment but looking after my children is the most rewarding (and most difficult) job I’ve ever had. Unfortunately, when it comes to parenting there is no Yearly Review to see how I’m doing!”
Ekaterina maintains a strong standard for work ethics in all her professional and philanthropic endeavors. In work and in life she maintains an amazing combination of creativity, compassion and discipline for which she primarily credits her grandmother. “My grandmother… was a fine example of someone with fantastic fortitude and dignity. She was an incredibly strong, highly intelligent woman whose wit and zest for life shone through even in her final moments. I felt that it was only right to dedicate my debut novel to the woman who always encouraged and nurtured my love of the written word and taught me that no matter what, the pen is indeed mightier than the sword.”
All-in-all, blogging has allowed Ekaterina to meet wonderful people, many in the international Hellenic community, and to collaborate with other authors, bloggers and community groups around the world to promote activities related to work, life, Greek culture and charitable giving. She is happiest, however, when she is with her family. “Nothing is as precious as spending quality time and having a good laugh with those who are closest to you.”