NEW YORK – Noted businessman and philanthropist Nikos Mouyiaris, founder of MANA cosmetic products and one of the most distinguished members of the Greek-American community, passed away Jan. 5, the day of his daughter's wedding, after suffering health issues for some months. He was 73.
Known for his work for Cyprus and Hellenism and for his humility and modesty, Mouyiaris preferred not to discuss his riches but the causes he felt would benefit the community and his heritage.
“I am one who strongly believes in the power of the Greek spirit,” he told The National Herald. “I am one who believes in Greek values.” He envisioned – and hoped that vision would be realized – a Greek-American community that would be united and a strong force in the United States. A force that, in turn, “can truly help Cyprus and Greece to do better.”
“I’ve been here 50 years,” Mouyaris explained, describing his American journey. As a boy in Atheniou, Cyprus, he sold candy to his classmates.
Considered a “natural entrepreneur” even then, the young Mouyiaris bought eggs from the local village women, packaged them, and sold them to merchants for a profit. But he had used those skills not only to help himself, but also others. Mouyiaris funded a cooperative helping women start their own businesses as well as become leaders in their communities.
It was that character that defined him. Acknowledging his good fortune in a self-made life, Mouyiaris, speaking before the Cyprus-U.S. Chamber of Commerce, when that organization honored him, first acknowledged his parents, aunts, uncles, friends, and villagers, attributing his success to their support.
“I have often said that we are successful not because we are very smart; not because we worked very hard and we were lucky; but because we had the good fortune of being able to stand on the shoulders of others,” he said.
After graduating high school, Mouyiaris moved to England and got a student visa to study in the United States. He enrolled at St. John’s University and won a scholarship. Earning a bachelor’s degree, he received his Master's degree from Rutgers University, both in chemistry. His scholarly pursuits, far from steering him toward a different path from the entrepreneurship he first developed and practiced as a child, provided the means for him to realize it.
“I always wanted my own business,” he told TNH, “but I couldn’t get a job as a chemist.” That is when he went to work for the Chesebrough-Ponds company, famous for world-renowned brands Vaseline and Pond’s face cream. “I learned how to make eyeshadows , blushes, and face powders,”he said.
What began as a job became a lifelong interest, and within a year, Mouyiaris headed back to England to borrow $6000 from his brother, Apostolos, he told TNH, and returned to the United States and founded MANA products, in 1975.
MANA began in a 900-square-foot loft on Manhattan’s Lower West Side and, as its website describes, “has developed groundbreaking formulas for some of the world’s most renowned beauty brands and collaborated with globally recognized makeup artists to create and launch their brands. The company’s product development capabilities and marketing savvy have propelled brands from startups to record-breakers.”
Today, the company employs more than 800 people and partners with many of the largest beauty brands throughout the world. Proudly, MANA declared that all of its products are made in the USA.
Why did Mouyiaris name the company MANA – which, although officially spelled in all capital letters, is not an acronym? “Because I think it is the most beautiful word in the world,” Mouyiaris told TNH. It is a Greek word, which means mother.
Statement on Passing of Nikos Mouyiaris
AHEPA is saddened by the passing of Businessman, Philanthropist, and Community Activist Nikos Mouyiaris, announced Supreme President George E. Loucas and Chairman of the Board Nicholas A. Karacostas, PSP.
In a joint statement, Loucas and Karacostas said:
"As an accomplished entrepreneur who understood and appreciated the value of education and philanthropy, Nikos Mouyiaris exemplified the essence of the American Dream and demonstrated a passion for the advancement of Hellenic ideals he embodied so well.
"Further, his love, support, and advocacy for Cyprus will be missed; a sentiment that will be felt across the globe.
"Our deepest sympathies are with the Mouyaris family. May his memory be eternal."