That’s why I began my interview series with changemakers that share refreshing ideas on topics that we all see as a core of our fragmented reality. One of the first changemakers I sit down, is Iliada Kothra, activist, women’s rights advocate and a founder of Living Postcards.
You are such an inspiring face in Greece – advocate for women’s rights, activist and an entrepreneur. Give us a glimpse of how it all started and what makes you do what you do?
I think that as a kid I wanted to do a lot of things. After studying marketing and advertising, I worked in big companies, but inside I knew that life is not just about big projects, but much more than that. So, I decided to create the largest platform for Greek brands and share the message that Greece in the crisis, but still remains a vibrant country, with a vision and entrepreneurship. However, social issues, such as domestic abuse have always concerned me. That’s why we launched an awareness campaign on this problem.
If you were to describe Living Postcards in a few sentences, what would be the things that you would highlight?
Well, we are extremely proud as a team, because in 7 years we have managed to make many small businesses that are now world-wide known, to inspire the world through numerous events with great speakers and, to create the ground for many partnerships. If I would like to highlight a few things, I would say that this project has made many people believe in themselves and feel that they can be entrepreneurs even in the midst of the financial crisis. Through countless articles in Greece and abroad, we have been able to share the country’s new face in areas, such as hospitality, gastronomy, design, fashion, art and music.
You previously mentioned that the financial crisis of 2008 in Greece had inspired people to ‘think out of the box’ – can you elaborate on that a little bit more?
In Greece, throughout the past decades, many citizens leaned on the public sector for security. There were very few examples of young entrepreneurs who wanted to take risks, get back on the boards, evolve, export. Superficial or so-called ‘fake’ lifestyle has led many of us to think that the economy is an endless party. When that party and the resources were over, most of the people lost their well-paid jobs and security they took for granted. This has also led to a crisis of values. What could we do from now on? The only solution was the business. Many have decided to make their old dreams come true. I think that crisis is like a big wave – you will swim, you will drown. Yet, judging by the hundreds of success stories we have on our platform, most of us have managed to get to the coast…
What’s the face of modern Greece for you?
New ideas, vision and hope! Development as well as an effective support strategy for the country is something that we are heading to. Above all, the face of modern Greece has to do mostly with people with their will to make their dreams come true.
I recently watched the film series ‘Owl’s Legacy’ by Chris Marker and it fascinated me with the Greek world and the heritage your culture plays in the European context. Do you think local startups and entrepreneurs do look for inspiration in ancient Greece and its roots?
I agree and I am happy that you asked this question. We can always take examples from the knowledge, sayings or the philosophy of the ancient philosophers. One of the examples we can bring, is Steve Jobs. He believed in values, such as ”ethos” and ”pathos”. Indeed, many new companies can build upon their existing strategies by reconsidering the heritage of Greek philosophers. Moreover, it can be applied not only in the business strategy itself, but also in the values that the company believes in. And with no exception, entrepreneurs in Greece consider that, I believe.
When it comes to being activist and running multiple entrepreneurial ventures, how does a day with you look like?
I want to be honest and I have to admit that months ago, I used to work like crazy. I don’t do this anymore. I have finally acknowledged to myself that if I want to be successful, I have to be healthy. That means that I eliminated many things that will not take me to success and personal inner satisfaction. I do not go to meetings when I’m not sure that this is the right thing to do and I do not answer in seconds every email I receive. Every morning, I focus on my inner-self and then, my goals.
That means that when my agenda is full, I start very early in the morning, but I have limits in the way I use my time. I always find time to eat dinner with the people I love or go to the gym and theater. When the body is exhausted and when the mind is full of thousands of ”must do’s”, things will not work right.
What’s one thing you think your country needs most at the moment?
I guess we all need to be more optimistic, but at the same time dedicated and hardworking. We must be focused and be aware that we never know when the history repeats itself.
Sustainability: would you consider it’s still a trend for most designers/startups or already a necessity?
It is absolutely a necessity. It is not a trend, it is not something we do just to post on our social media and get thousands of likes. I am sure that in a few years the truly successful designers and startups will be the ones that have a fully sustainable supply chain – from the stage of production to the stage of consumption.
Please share one piece of advice with our readers on how they could lead better and more sustainable lives.
Consume mindfully as there is only one planet.