We catch up with Iliada Kothra, who's in the business of giving Greece a makeover.
Founder and editor-in-chief of Living-Postcards, Iliada Kothra, asked us to meet her at the AthensWas hotel rooftop restaurant, one of her new favourite Athenian locations. Boasting breathtaking panoramic views of the acropolis, it’s perhaps the perfect setting for our talk about her website and love of all things Greek.
Speaking about the start of the financial crisis, Iliada remembers, “I started to feel that everyone around me was depressed and no one could see a future.” Being abroad at that point she noticed that despite the situation at home, Greek products, particularly in small delicatessens, were viewed as a luxury. Upon her return, she decided that Greece, Athens in particular, had many things to promote, not just food produce, and was inspired to start Living Postcards as a way to combat the general feeling of malaise that had descended upon the country. Recognising that Greece needed a slight rework in the eyes of the international community, Living Postcards became a platform that began to disseminate Greek culture in its many forms, although with special attention to small, independent boutique hotels, music, cosmetics and small fashion and jewellry designers as a way to portray, what Iliada calls ‘The New Face of Greece.’
"IT'S ABOUT BEAUTY, LIVING BEAUTY."
Operating as a global platform that is accessible to all, the site is updated everyday. Working to continuously discover creative new brands and people that have a story to tell, the vision behind Living Postcards is one of hope. The misconception that Greece’s story had been written is an easy one to correct, “it’s amazing when people enter the site abroad as they don’t believe that there are so many designers, places to eat, to go, to stay.” Passion is evident in her voice, as she feels that she knows each and every person behind the site’s features - communicating with them every day enables Iliada to share their passion and inspiration.
Now, four years on, Living Postcards has blossomed into a site with over 3000 articles on a variety of subjects. As the discussion moves on to how Iliada named the site she posits that “it's about beauty, living beauty. Greece is full of living brands, people and creativity.” The outdated idea of Greece permanently mired in antiquity did not match her optimism or views for the future.
Plans are now in the works to create a corporeal form of Living Postcards. Pop up stores in different countries will become the physical embodiment of the virtual reality and hopefully expand the reach of Iliada’s ‘New Face of Greece’ by creating a venue for journalists and buyers, with a commercial interest, to view merchandise and products that portray the creativity of the individuals featured. “For us it's not only about Greeks. It's not about borders. It’s about the Greek spirit across the world.”
“The depression has lifted from 4 years ago.”
Perhaps the most remarkable change that Iliada has seen since starting Living Postcards is that attitudes towards Athens have altered, “people have started to love, respect and appreciate the city.” Wrought by the efforts that Athenians themselves have put into their home, hosting their own concerts, art exhibitions and creating their own brands, the respect appears to have arisen naturally. “[People are} happier, the depression has lifted from 4 years ago.”
Indeed, there are numerous foreign hits on the site, although each country seems to have a specific interest, with the USA leading the hits on fashion and jewellery, while the small artisanal food brands that are featured garner more interest from European countries.
Well travelled, Iliada has spent a significant amount of time living in both Paris and London, but was always drawn back to Athens, “I feel more secure [here], sentimentally.” Understandably her passion for her country's plight is made evident through her business. Forward thinking, she sees a lot of potential in the people of Greece, “united [we] can make an amazing change.”