Husband and Wife Founders of Organic Opuntia Luxury Oils Talk to TNH

Opuntia Luxury Oils Founders Kassandra Lefakinis and Achilles Kyrtsis. Photo: Courtesy of Opuntia Luxury Oils

ATHENS – The new, organic Opuntia Luxury Oils debuted this year conceived on a wild, secluded beach in Mykonos by husband and wife soul-seekers Achilles Kyrtsis and Kassandra Lefakinis under the illuminating Aegean sun. Together, they have captured one of the world’s most precious and absorbable botanicals – Opuntia, also known as prickly pear seed oil – to bring home the magic of the Mediterranean, a soon-to-be cult favorite.

The Revival Day Face Oil and the Revival Night Face Oil, or The Revival Set including both, are crafted in Greece infused with delicate bouquets of Geranium Bourbon, Neroli, Spanish Sage and Wild Carrot, among others, bursting with bio-active aromas designed to promote health and healing of the skin, body, and mind. The eco-conscious Kyrtsis and Lefakinis give back to the environment, too – with every bottle sold, a tree is planted through a reforestation partnership with One-Tree Planted.

Greek-American Lefakinis’ lifelong passion for beauty and essential oil fragrances led to the inspiration for Opuntia along with her husband Achilles who was vital in his support and direction of her vision. Everything she saw on the market seemed “toxic and synthetic” even organic cosmetics didn’t have the right blend of silky texture, dreamy aroma, and visible benefits. She discovered that organic botanical oils replenish the skin while offering intoxicating aromas with therapeutic mood-enhancing properties; she knew it was a winning combination that would fill a need in the market for upscale organic skincare.

Opuntia Luxury Oils – Revival Day and Night Oil. Photo: Courtesy of Opuntia Luxury Oils

Kassandra gets her entrepreneurial spirit and love of the Med from her Greek father who founded Valef Yachts, one of the first yacht charter companies in the Mediterranean, where she is a managing partner today. Growing up in Philadelphia, Kassandra was called “the nose” for her obsession with perfumes that started with gifts she received from her father from his trips abroad. From rose and verbena as a child to a preference for more masculine fragrances as a teen, she always cultivated a signature scent. More inspiration came from a home always filled with the sweet smells of her mother’s cooking and her vivid memories of trips to Greece. The scent of wild oregano on the islands, the sea on hot days, the pine trees in summer, even the fuel tinged air from the marina, were fodder for inspiration.

When Kassandra met Achilles, a Greek Oxford alumnus, the inspiration for Opuntia quickly followed. In love and basking in the Greek sun on a secluded beach on Mykonos one summer, the dry arid island climate was the impetus for creating Opuntia Luxury Oils. Kassandra’s desire to create a fragrant all-natural skincare product inspired by their Greek heritage, combined with Achilles’ head for business and love of refinement, they knew they had something special.

Together they researched traditional and ancient uses of herbs and plants and their therapeutic benefits from around the Mediterranean. Achilles was instrumental in choosing Opuntia to use as the product’s star base, known for its high levels of antioxidants and powerful anti-aging effects.

They gravitated towards organic dual-purpose ingredients that have gorgeous scents and skin healing properties. Angelica Root is one such ingredient with a uniquely relaxing scent that acts as an antiseptic promoting skin heath. Geranium essential oil is another with anti-depressant benefits combined with a heavenly aroma working wonders to hydrate and tone. They sought out rare varieties of popular essential oils, such as Lavender Spike, and Spanish Sage, both with distinct aromas and skin healing properties, differentiating them from competitors.

“With Opuntia Luxury Oils, we aim to unite unexpected elements from nature that are not commonly used in other products on the market, offering a more dynamic and surprising aromatic journey with all their unique skin benefits,” explains Kassandra.

New parents, Kassandra and Achilles balance raising their daughter Anassa and respective careers working for the family business and in the energy sector, respectively, and together follow their entrepreneurial dreams to create a skincare range that will inspire holistic self-care and beauty, honoring the environment and their Greek heritage.

Opuntia Luxury Oils’ husband and wife founders Achilles Kyrtsis and Kassandra Lefakinis spoke to The National Herald about their company and running a business in the current economic climate.

TNH: What was the most challenging aspect of launching the company?

Kassandra and Achilles: Putting practical aspects aside, we’d say that researching and sourcing the best ingredients for our formulas was certainly challenging, it took a lot of time, trials, and effort. Also, finding like-minded talents that contributed to creating our branding and finally, designing our amazing eco-friendly packaging took some trial and error. All of the above, however, led to ultimately creating the mesmerizing Opuntia Luxury Oils world and, of course, we had plenty of joyous creative moments within.

TNH: What is the most rewarding aspect?

KA: Feedback – when people tell you what you yourself admire about your product and brand. When they relish the product and say how it’s transformed their skin or that the scent makes them happy. When you realize that your vision, which at some point early on seemed almost indefinable and was just a feeling and thoughts, has been translated to others clearly. When others come to you and actually put the essence of the brand into their own words, describing enthusiastically how it makes them feel and has transported them into the Opuntia Luxury Oils world… This is our success. That the essence transcends even the product and is memorable.

TNH: How does the current state of the Greek economy affect how you run your business?

KA: While it has been challenging for sales within Greece, it has given us great pride and will to promote our product as Greek (Made in Athens is clearly written on the back of the bottles), feeling like a phoenix, we have made something passionately here and offered it to the world. We had to focus on sales abroad and seasonal local business where people visiting Greece are the clients.

TNH: How did you decide to partner with One Tree Planted?

KA: Our products help your wellness thrive solely with natural botanical ingredients so it made sense to us to give something back to nature for the benefits we reap. Inspired by the amazing Prickly Pear (Opuntia) cactus that takes so little (resources) and offers so much, thriving in adverse and harsh conditions (much like Greeks in crisis), we wanted to offer more.

We use the equation one bottle one tree which is comprehensive to consumers. Their business model is straight forward and they empower local regions to work via reforestation. There is transparency and it is global. We find them great partners. Deforestation accounts for 8% of global greenhouse-gas emissions but attracts only 3% of the aid earmarked for combating climate change. Reforestation is a cause that we believe in and so we want to take advantage of our sales to assist the healing of the environment.

 

Opuntia Luxury Oils are available for purchase internationally online at www.opuntialuxuryoils.com with complimentary two day shipping to the U.S. and EU countries.

For additional information email: info@opuntialuxuryoils.com.

Follow on Instagram @opuntialuxuryoils and Twitter @OpuntiaLO.