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Greek Entrepreneurs Who Beat the Economic Crisis

tuvunu1The success stories of Greek entrepreneurs who defied the economic crisis and prospered is the subject of a recent feature article in The Washington Times.
Penny Vomva is a fashion designer who took the risk to open a store and sell her creations in prestigious Voukourestiou street in downtown Athens. Now RIEN, her storefront, sits next to Dior and Prada. Her handmade leather handbags sell for 180 to 450 euros, rather steep for the crisis-stricken Greek market, but Vomva says business is good and it would have been better if it wasn’t for the crisis.
The 35-year-old designer started in 2008, at the beginning of the Eurozone crisis. She began showcasing her clothes in a hotel suite and now has two stores, one in Athens and the other in the cosmopolitan island of Mykonos. Like many other new Greek business owners, she is focusing on exports. Switzerland and Saudi Arabia are her key targets, selling through an online shopping site and keeping costs low. Vomva has two employees, so she does most of the work herself. Sales are up, however, so she is optimistic.
“It is really difficult to work in this crisis,” she said. “If I hadn’t studied business administration before getting in the fashion industry, I wouldn’t have made it.”
After working several jobs, Demetri Chriss had the idea to sell canned Greek mountain tea. The rich-flavored tea is not yet known across the world for its medicinal qualities and delicious taste. With the help of chemists and food technologists over the course of a year, Chriss perfected his canned Greek mountain tea made out of tea extract, lemon juice and raw brown sugar. He named it Tuvunu, after the Greek works “tou vounou” meaning “of the mountain.”
However, Chriss’ goal was to sell Tuvunu abroad. He teamed with Dimitris Politopoulos, owner of Greece’s first microbrewery, and they worked for two years to produce their tea. After struggling with Greek bureaucracy and an old law that forbade to produce anything other than beer in a brewery, they managed to establish their brand.
Now Tuvunu can be found in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. “I dreamed of an international brand name that would be identified with Greece,” Chriss said.
Brothers Stathis and Konstantinos Panitsidis started a 3D printing business in 2013 after visiting a 3D printing exhibition in Germany. Both of them civil engineers, were two of the one and half million of unemployed Greeks. The idea of owning a small printing factory was very exciting to them.
In the beginning they made 3D plans for implants for a dental surgeon. Today, they get orders from other industries as well. “Now, after a year of almost experimental operation, it seems like we’re on the threshold of being sustainable,” Konstantinos Panitsidis said.

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