NEW YORK – Katerina Mountanos is only the latest Greek-American entrepreneur to make the news, as is well known by the members of community organizations like Hellenic Professional Women (HPW), which recently hosted her presentation titled “Making the Jump: Career Changes & Entrepreneurship.”
Three years ago Mountanos and her partner, Elizabeth Whitman founded, Manicube, the pioneering in-office beauty and grooming services company. The day before her Midtown Manhattan HPW talk, it was acquired by Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa.
The slogan of the premier in-office manicure and barbering service is “Keeping Professionals Polished,” and Mountanos takes pride in the professionalism and high quality service she and her colleagues provide, but he is especially pleased to be able to return one hour of precious time to the busy professional women Manicube serves.
“We built our company with one mission in mind: to make the lives of working professionals easier,” visitors to the website, manicube.com, are informed.
Manicube visits corporate clients, who provide space, usually conference rooms, where their employees can receive a variety of beauty and grooming services, beginning with a basic manicure.
For readers from Mars, Mountanos explained to TNH that the service restores an hour of time a week to her clients. “Between traveling to the nail salon, waiting, your turn, and drying time, it takes an hour – or more. Now, instead of using lunch time or leaving work early, they can just walk down the hall and be done in 15 minutes.”
She said about 25 percent of the clients pick up part or all of the costs of the services for their employees.
Maria Frantzis, one of the founders and past president of HPW, took the lead in congratulating when she introduced her at the event which included a reception.
Frantzis later told TNH, “Tonight we were very inspired by Katina…She is always there whenever we need her and she is a source of ideas and mentoring for our members,” adding “we need more women like Katina who are always there for other Greek-American women.”
Mountanos began her talk by going around the room and asking how much they wanted to become entrepreneurs and whether it was a long or short term interest. Many where interested.
She then told the story about how she turned a finance degree and four years of investment banking experience into an entrepreneurial career in the beauty industry, and provided the dozens of women listening intensely with general advice.
Mountanos shared a famous speech the late Steve Jobs had given at Stanford University and summarized it by saying “It’s all about putting dots down on your personal experience map that may (or may not) be connected in the future.”
Even if something does not get connected right now, she said, “follow that passion” that makes you want to have that experience or knowledge “and put that dot down.” In Job’s case, a calligraphy course he took in college helped him to develop the fonts for the first Apple computer.
She told TNH about her own experience, where some dots were linear but others were outliers that got connected later.
One of the outliers was the result of being left without a job after 9/11 caused American Express to move to New Jersey. She got a job at Macy’s working at the Estee Lauder make0up counter. “That experience at the beauty counter made me fall in love with the beauty industry – I also saw how lucrative it could be and made me want to go to L’Oreal USA and not back into finance after business school.
Her next challenge is re-branding as Manicubes moves under the Red Door umbrella in January 2016. Mountanos and her partner will run the division that does mobile services.
She appreciates the support and inspiration she received from her entrepreneurial parents.
Her father is from Koroni – where Mountanos was married last year – and her mother is from Agrinio. Both immigrated to the U.S. as teenagers
Her younger brother Peter works in the family running Larkfields, a highly successful catering hall in Northport in Long Island, with their father.