Sofia Crokos of Elaia Estiatorio: “Love ”

Love — Your love shines through all that you do. Without love, you and your work cannot thrive. As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sofia Crokos. Sofia Crokos believes that every moment in life is worth enjoying and celebrating. A luminary in her field, […]

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Love — Your love shines through all that you do. Without love, you and your work cannot thrive.

As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sofia Crokos.

Sofia Crokos believes that every moment in life is worth enjoying and celebrating. A luminary in her field, she is more than an event planner: Sofia is a connector, a collaborator, and a creator who continues to push the envelope, effortlessly translating ideas into immersive and truly breathtaking realities. She is inspired by the potential in the unknown and approaches life with curiosity, spirit, and purpose. Sofia is lauded by her clients and network of industry peers alike for her ability to anticipate every need, build deep and personal connections, and elevate the simplest wish into an unforgettable moment.

Raised in Brooklyn, New York in an ebullient Greek family with an appetite for laughter, Sofia’s affection for savoring the good times in life was cultivated at an early age. After a career in fashion, where she honed her visual skills and polished sense of style, Sofia took these principles and now applies them to her art.

A cosmopolitan soul who believes that the best way to immerse yourself in culture is to wander the streets Sofia is continually inspired by the glamour, and drive her hometown of New York City has to offer. She splits her time between the City and the Hamptons, filling her days with impromptu dinners with friends and family at her new Greek restaurant Elaia Estiatorio.

When not at home, she satisfies her insatiable appetite for exploration, traveling the world in search of new restaurants and long beach walks to provide her next great source of inspiration. Based on her passions for all things beautiful and delicious, Sofia continues to curate and brainstorm her yet to be published book.

An educator at heart, Sofia Crokos is offering venue consulting for event venues, hospitality brands, property owners and residential buildings who are seeking the guidance of an experienced event production and design professional with an intimate knowledge of the restaurant and luxury events industry. More broadly, Sofia is eager to pursue strategic partnerships with hospitality and lifestyle brands that identify with the virtues celebrating and living well. Feel free to contact her directly at [email protected] to discuss working together.

For Sofia, life is best lived as an active participant, and she thrives when immersing herself in every delightful moment.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

I was inspired to open Elaia Estiatorio when I moved to the Hamptons with my husband, Chris Boudouris, owner of our area’s largest liquor and spirits purveyor, Bridgehampton Wine Cellar. Upon seeing a lack of authentic Greek food out East, Chris and I determined to provide locals and visitors with Greek recipes in an atmosphere that felt like home. By opening Elaia Estiatorio in 2017, Chris and I paid homage to our Greek roots while celebrating the Hamptons’ ingredients, community, and spirit. Elaia’s rustic yet elegant cuisine brings the freshest dishes to the table. I am a born-and-raised Brooklynite who worked in the fashion industry for seven years before founding my event design and planning company, Sofia Crokos Events & Lifestyle. I honed my visual skills and polished fashion sense to design exceptional events, working with various NYC and global private clients.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

I have had so many challenges and so many moments where I wanted to say, “I’m so tired, I can’t do it.” A few years back, I was diagnosed with Lyme Disease. Through all these crazy personal challenges I had to handle business endeavors as well; I harnessed tenacity and persistence. I committed to my clients; my clients never knew what was going on with me. I learned a lot about myself and my miraculous strength that helped me pull through. I was fortunate to have a very supportive external and internal team.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

It’s funny now, but when I first started, I would allow myself to take calls from clients after 7 pm because I thought that’s what I was supposed to do. I quickly realized that I had no personal life at night because I would continue afterward with emails, etc. I woke up pretty quickly, and after a year, I had the “Sofia rules” established; most matters that can’t be addressed during work hours are not an “urgency.” From that, I gained more respect from clients, vendors, and others across the board.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Her name is Wendy, and she was my mentor. I called her my fairy godmother. When I was coming into the events world, I tapped into this floral designer friend about 6 months in. My friend put me in touch with an experienced events contact, Wendy, who worked with Manhattan clients and was an excellent resource for me. Wendy completely took me under her wing and called me her “buzzing bee” because she saw my thirst and excitement for this business. She sat me down one day and opened her Pandora’s Box. She provided me with invaluable advice, and I am eternally grateful for this insight. Wendy gave me her experience on a silver platter. After about 8 months, she gave me my first gig, which was a tented wedding. Wendy has an incredible spirit. We are still in touch to this day!

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience what is currently holding back women from founding companies?

I think fear is holding a lot of women back. Many of us are scared of making a change, which is entirely understandable. This is not a female-dominated space. Many women also don’t have their own economic standing due to societal circumstances, and it can be daunting.

Can you help articulate a few things that can be done as individuals, as a society, or by the government, to help overcome those obstacles?

I think mentoring is the greatest gift you can give someone. When you are competent and have made something for yourself, the most productive thing you can do is be a mentor. I have paid it forward to many because it was so invaluable for me.

This might be intuitive to you as a woman founder but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?

I think women’s intuition is incredible. Women have a mental, emotional, and intellectual connection with their world. Once a woman has confidence in her intuition and ability, this connection is world-changing. I think it’s important to value what both men and women bring to the table and how they can work together.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder? Can you explain what you mean?

Because we live in such a digital world, everything is a lot of smoke and mirrors; we make everything seem so seamless. There is a lot of nitty-gritty and hard work; it takes a tribe! There are countless hours, and an army is required. I also believe that being able to ask for help is super important. People believe that you have to do it all yourself as a founder, but I would not be where I am without asking for help. There is no shame in asking for a hand!

Is everyone cut out to be a founder? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful founder and what type of person should perhaps seek a “regular job” as an employee? Can you explain what you mean?

You have to ask yourself, can I commit? Do I have the patience? You’re not going to see success within one week or one year. I have seen my successes within ten years plus of what I’ve been doing. Success is not necessarily monetary. Success is: how do I feel? Do I feel joy and excitement? Am I hungry for more? You have to be really honest with yourself and highly self-aware. Questioning and curiosity are so crucial in finding your passion. Being awakened by your own beat is vital. If your pulse isn’t enlivened, assess it. I’d also say, you have to be able to give yourself credit where it’s due. Timing is also everything. We often find ourselves in the right place, with the right crew, in the right moment.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your opinion and experience, what are the “Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder?” (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Worldliness — As a Greek living in the Hamptons, I have multiple backgrounds as my resources. I also love to explore the world with a thirst for adventure. I think this sense of worldliness allows me to collaborate with many different people; I love it!
  2. Versatility — I can channel my various skills into two businesses: my events business and my restaurant. My multiple experiences allow me to create a bespoke aesthetic and environment for my clients and customers.
  3. Curiosity — I am inquisitive and adventurous. I love to try new things and hear new perspectives.
  4. Perseverance — I never give up. I can stick with my intuition, hone in my self-assurance, and persevere through challenges.
  5. Love — Your love shines through all that you do. Without love, you and your work cannot thrive.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

I do a lot of outreach within my peers and community. I do a lot of mentorships. My restaurant (after my events business) is my second baby, and Chris and I pour our love into our Greek food, which spreads into the community, and I believe we give back in that way as well.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

A movement to dance more! Everyone needs to let loose and feel enlivened! Something is empowering and rejuvenating about dance. Something about dancing brings confidence. I miss it! Dancing is a form of expression, release, and connection. We all need to dance more.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

Athena Calderone! I’m mesmerized by her creations and everything she touches. The love she pours in her living surroundings, her love of food, design, and gatherings speak to my spirit directly. I know we have some mutual friends and people in common, and it’s just a matter of time that I believe we’ll have this opportunity to sit over a meal and chat at my Greek restaurant, Elaia Estiatorio!

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

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