Introducing Anastasia, the third #girlboss in my interview series into the lives and drives of up and coming entrepreneurs. Each month I talk to people who are carving out their own paths in life, boss of their own business or creative venture.
Love From Cyprus
Anastasia Gerali is an unstoppable Greek goddess who founded her brand Love From Cyprus in 2012. Born to Greek parents, she grew up in South Africa and spent some time living and working in London before settling down in Cyprus.
Her Grecian sandals and beach-ready totes are literally half the wardrobe needed for your Mediterranean holiday. On the Greek islands, less really is more, slipping easily in and out of sandals and beach dresses before running into the sea.
The design ethos of the brand is products made to last, also known as slow fashion. This means using the best leathers and materials sourced from Greece and Italy, and employing local artisans throughout the product value chain. Everything is made-in-Cyprus and made-to-order. It’s through discovering brands like these that we can all become more conscious consumers!
As of this year, Anastasia has introduced an exciting new customization option, where you can choose any sandal in any colour. For Miss Portmanteau readers, Anastasia is giving 10% off all purchases made online. Simply click here and enter the exclusive code MISSP.
I recently caught up with Anastasia on her last visit to London, while we were still having those warm Spring days perfect for wearing my denim blue Rhea buckled slides. I love the authenticity and quality of the brand and have also bought a pair of Kamares slides in black to wear next month in Mykonos.
Anastasia, thanks again for participating in this interview series and letting us peek into your life!
Thank you so much for having me on your blog. It’s finally summer and I am super excited to share my new collection! Summer is my busiest season. I’ve also been working on a new sub-brand called Neo Love, which is finally available exclusively on my webshop.
Neoprene is a great material for bags and sandals because it’s machine washable and lightweight. The totes are cool for the summer and available in popping fresh colours.
It’s been five years since you started, what can you tell us about your journey so far?
I originally started my brand in 2012 as a hobby while I was working as a graphic designer. I officially quit my day job just over a year later when I realized that my brand was never going to grow if I didn’t completely dedicate myself to it.
As you can imagine, everyone advised me against quitting. It hasn’t been a walk in the park, but I would do it all over again. I have my ups and downs, but it’s all part of my journey and growth as an individual and entrepreneur.
Having the courage to start something of my own is both my biggest success and challenge. If you don’t have any prior business experience or knowledge, be prepared to stumble as you learn. Being your own boss is not for the faint of heart! It really does challenge you and make you question everything when things are tough. It’s survival of the fittest.
But the challenges also teach you to be quick on your feet and problem solve or change direction quickly. There is no cushion for trial and error. The best advice I got, believe it or not, is from the book ‘How to get rich’ by Felix Dennis. He advocates remaining self-funded and to never give away equity. Something that young startups and entrepreneurs do all too quickly nowadays.
I love that book! You’re an online business, which is also the trend for small business, especially in the world of fashion. How do you feel that helps or hinders you?
Selling online is a fantastic opportunity for a business like mine, as you are no longer limited to the people who come to your store. The whole world is a potential buyer and your online store or social media account is your vitrine. It’s interesting to see how certain countries and communities are more tech-savvy and comfortable buying online than others. It can take time for consumers to gain the confidence to shop online, while shipping fees and ease of ordering also help.
There is definitely a positive trend towards buying from smaller brands, as we are looking for products which are unique and better quality than what you can get on the high street. It’s getting more and more difficult for big brands to pull the wool over our eyes. If something is too cheap or expensive, it makes the consumer question why. I think once you find a brand and you love their products, you become loyal and continue to buy from them. Especially if you support what they stand for.
Our made-to-order ethos is based on minimizing waste, which is something we stick to. Even if I had a store, my leather sandals are made on demand so I would have limited stock to try and buy. We offer exchanges over refunds to make sure that both the customer is happy and the artisans who crafted the product still get paid and can make their living.
Did you always focus on sandals and handbags, or did you narrow down over time?
Actually, I started out with bags. However, in recent years I’ve focused a lot on leather sandals as it coincided with a huge rise in demand around the world. All of a sudden, the product I was offering became this huge trend and ever since, Love From Cyprus has been best known for its sandals.
It definitely helped put my brand in the spotlight, although I’m hoping to show more versatility going forward. I’ve returned to bags with my new neoprene range and aim to establish Love From Cyprus as a lifestyle brand founded in my values.
I believe that everything you buy should be an investment, something you plan to use for years to come. I’m not trying to compete with high-street brands because my products are not mass-produced. The rising interest in brands like mine feels more like my community than my competitors.
What should we expect from you in the future?
I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing while expanding the brand to include more lifestyle products. The big goal is to be able to employ people, to grow a team and have a kick-ass studio full of these enthusiastic hard-working people. That’s a big part of why I started this. In my former job I wasn’t working in an environment I loved, which is something I want to create for myself and others.
* * *
You can follow Anastasia’s brands Love From Cyprus and Neo Love on Instagram as well as Facebook for latest news, trends and offers.
* * *