EON products: eclectic Greek foods for an “eternal life”
by Kelly Fanarioti
One day Anna Apostolidou left behind the world of gymnastics where she had been training since she was three; said goodbye to track and field where she had won acclaim in the Pan-Hellenic and Pan-European games; and finally abandoned her career as an artistic gymnastics coach on the National Team.
And she did a 180 and became an entrepreneur from Thessaloniki who since 2013 has produced high-quality line of Greek food products under the name EON-“eternal life”-and exported them to Europe and America. In 2016 she took part in the world’s largest and most trusted food and drink competition in London and won her first Great Taste Award.
Apostolidou is one of the many Greeks, who despite the financial crisis, have managed to create their own personal success story even while the country’s economy is struggling.
“Nutrition has always played a very important role in my life because I have been a champion and I have always had a concern about what is healthy,” she says during an exclusive interview with NEO. “Over the years, I managed to collect a wide range of information about the consumption of food. For two years before the company was founded, I traveled all over Greece to learn everything about olive oil, to see the difference between varieties and choose the right one. Similar research has been done on the honey we produce and thee vegetables with which we make the meals.”
Together with her husband, also an athlete, they founded their company in the spring of 2013 and since then have received orders from customers in Greece and abroad. The products that have excited foreigners the most are the EON brand of Greek virgin olive oil from the mountains of Sitia in Crete, and a collection of pate vegetables based on the following innovation: the vegetables are raw and milled with peanuts and olive oil and have no preservatives, dyes and gluten.
The flagship of EON is the traditional handmade stuffed vine leaves that are produced with 100% extra virgin olive oil and fresh vine leaves.
Last, but not least, much in demand is the honey: a variety of pine with flower blossoms and mastic from Chios. And also pies, the most typical example of the popular Greek food tradition, that are prepared with 100% extra virgin olive oil and with traditional hand-rolled phyllo pastry.
As Apostolidou explains, the secret of the EON success is not only based on the quality of the products, but also on the professionalism of her and her husband. “Maybe it has to do with the fact that we come from the championship athletic field. Many of the elements you build through gymnastics follow you as a person throughout your life. Sports teach you to set goals and work hard: with passion, persistence, and especially with discipline so that you can, when you are struggling, manage victory or defeat equally. Both give you something. Victory gives you courage to continue and defeat is the one that if you manage it right, it improves you.”
EON products are exported to many European countries and have long ago made their presence in the U.S market, as well. Apostolidou says, exports were a prime objective of her company from the beginning. ”The reaction of customers is more than positive and what they are appreciating is not just the quality or perhaps the aesthetics of the products, but our own dedication to high standards. That is the difference and it’s of utmost importance.”
However, the road to success was not paved with rose petals, since Apostolidou and her husband had to go through the Minotaur labyrinth of Greek bureaucracy to set up their business.
”Unfortunately, the Greek state is not on the side of the entrepreneurs. It’s not even indifferent to them, it’s clearly against them,” she says. ”Greece is a blessed place for the production of unique traditional products; it gives many opportunities in this area. But when it is time for someone to materialize their plans and start something of their own, they must have some tools, and that is self-confidence, flexibility and adaptability, imagination, perseverance, and dedication to their goal.”
The secret of business success to her is the passion for work which sooner or later will bear fruit. “If someone works passionately and does not just aim for profit, he will sooner or later be vindicated. Only with that aim, diligence, and devotion, can one achieve it. When you are consistent, disciplined, professional and gain the trust of the customer only success can be expected.”
Having succeeded in achieving a profitable business in the midst of the economic crisis, I could not resist asking her about the advice she would give to people who want to start their business in Greece in 2018.
”A very serious management of the available resources is needed because any mistake in Greece can erase a business from the business map,” she says. “All these small start-ups that are starting now in the country are on a stretched rope all the time. There is absolutely no support behind them, no security for the future, so every step must be well thought out.’
EON products can be found at Sani Resort in Halkidiki, as well as in delicatessens in Mykonos, Santorini and Athens. For more information you can visit eonflavours.com.