Writer & Founder, Women On Top
I believe we need to inspire young people to know themselves and their priorities.
Tell us how the idea of women on top came about
I was pregnant with my first daughter while working for Cosmopolitan magazine, and I had just published my own book. So much was going on and I was confused. I needed advice and talking to my manager did not seem natural. I wished I could’ve gotten in touch with women who could have given me advice based on their experiences. But mentoring was not so big in Greece at the time. Having visited London (UK) recently I had seen organizations that facilitated connections between startups and experienced entrepreneurs. And I knew that’s what we needed here, not just for entrepreneurs, but for all working (and unemployed) women. So that’s how the idea was born, first as a Facebook group and then as a non-profit organization.
Which areas of greece do you target?
All. Until recently we were working with Athens mainly but then realized how important it was to engage with women in regional Greece. Every summer we hold a workshop for women and offer them 10 training seminars. This year we held our fourth meeting. For the first time, two women came from the city of Patras and from the island of Chios at their own expenses, both searching advice for setting up their own companies. Greece is much more than its main cities, and wonderful people from all around are developing amazing ideas for new, original businesses. This was our wakeup call to really expand our services.
What was it like setting up a non-profit in Greece?
Receiving funding was not so difficult. The refugee crisis means quite a few funding sources exist for NGOs. However, the public does not really trust non-profit organizations yet and proving your reliability and transparency can be hard.
Do you remember ever facing difficulties?
I’ve been through a lot of difficulties from a very young age. At school I was a victim of bullying, and also faced health problems as a child. As a result, I went through depression and suffered from an eating disorder. For me, the challenge was overcoming the belief that success was unreachable and that things in life don’t always have to be mired in difficulty. And that’s still a challenge for me even today. My initial attempt for Women On Top did not succeed, but I faced this difficulty with a team. We did not know what setting up a business really meant, but we learnt valuable lessons through it.
And how does the media affect self-image?
There are a lot of theories that social media and the fashion industry are to blame for things like eating disorders and young people’s lack of confidence or image problems. Personally, I think these are just the symptoms. For me the source of the problem starts from within. I believe we need to inspire young people to know themselves and their priorities, and not to feel the need to “follow” or compare themselves with influencers saturating the media.
What’s one of the highlights of your job?
Writing of course and I also love public speaking, although I do get scared of it sometimes. My fear is asking people to devote their time and attention to hearing me speak, but once I start I really enjoy it.