NEW YORK – Kosterina, known for its organic Greek extra virgin olive oil, was featured in Forbes for delving into extra virgin olive oil-based skincare. Kosterina was founded by Katerina Mountanos whose family comes from the fishing village of Koroni in Messenia, Peloponnese, Greece.
“When Katerina Mountanos was VP of brand incubation at Walmart, she would often walk the store aisles in search of inspiration,” Forbes reported, adding that “one day she cruised past the olive oil section, and noticed that all the packaging seemed to fall from the same tree.”
“Nothing stood out to me, all the bottles either had that ancient Greek key pattern, Greek gods, or that single olive branch,” Mountanos told Forbes.
“When it came to ingredients, most brands sold low-quality blends of processed oils,” Forbes reported, noting that “Mountanos began distilling her own idea, and in 2016, launched Kosterina as a side-hustle while still at Walmart.”
She told Forbes that “Kosterina’s organic extra virgin olive oil has 8-10x more antioxidants than the average brand, and is made from 100% Koroneiki olives from southern Greece.”
“Branding is inspired less by Greek mythology and more by the bright vistas of Mykonos and Santorini,” Forbes reported, adding that “instead of dark olive green bottles, Mountanos went with Cycladic blues, limestone whites and hues that reflect the Aegean Sea.”
“Her company is on a cold-pressed mission to revive the lost art and appreciation for olive oil as a superfood,” Forbes reported, noting that Mountanos is “a certified olive oil sommelier.”
“What you find in the aisles in your supermarket is actually useless when it comes to taste and health,” she told Forbes.
Mountanos “aimed to differentiate her company by adding balsamic vinegars, dark chocolates and olive oil cakes to the mix,” Forbes reported, adding that “she is now taking Kosterina beyond the food category with a new skincare line.”
Kosterina Beauty launched on November 2 with two debut items, Extra Virgin Hydrating Face Oil and the Extra Virgin Hydrating Oil Balm, Forbes reported, noting that “both contain the same tasty high antioxidant extra virgin olive oil that also happens to fight free-radical damage.”
“It also features lachestim, a restorative oil from the sap of Mastic trees which grow only on the Greek Island of Chios; its restorative properties are known to boost collagen production in the skin,” Forbes reported.
“I’ve always been inspired by my Greek ancestors, most of whom lived to be over 90 and had the best skin and hair I’ve ever seen,” Mountanos told Forbes. “EVOO, and other Mediterranean superfoods like walnuts and honey filled with antioxidants, helped them glow from the inside out.”
“Mountanos hopes Kosterina foods and beauty products will encourage customers to adopt the daily lifestyle habits of the Blue Zones, areas of the world that have higher than average populations of centenarians,” Forbes reported.
Mountanos “was previously co-founder and CEO of VC-backed Manicube, which brought manicures, pedicures and personal care services to corporate offices,” Forbes reported, adding that “Manicube reached more than 200 corporate clients before being acquired by Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spas.”
“I’ve spent a large part of my career in the beauty industry and have come to learn that what we put on our faces and bodies in the name of beauty is making us less healthy and less beautiful because of toxic ingredients,” Mountanos told Forbes.
“She has worked in senior roles at ecommerce startups like Jet, which led her to Walmart after the acquisition,” Forbes reported, noting that “there she worked with Jet cofounder Marc Lore as well as Bonobos founder Andy Dunn, both of whom are investors in Kosterina” and “so far the company has raised $500,000 in pre-seed and $3.5 million seed funding.”
“In late 2019, Mountanos ran a Net Promoter Score (NPS),” which asks customers about the likeliness they would recommend a product to a friend, Forbes reported, adding that Kosterina scored “a perfect 100.”
“Some of the most loved brands in the world like Apple, Nike, Costco and American Express have NPS scores in the 60s or 70s,” Mountanos told Forbes, noting that the revelation made her think of “Kosterina as a wellness brand,” and she then “quit her corporate job” to “pursue Kosterina full-time in 2020, shortly before the pandemic.”
“Due to global supply chain challenges, the company has not always operated like a well-oiled machine as she had to import her olive oil from Europe,” Forbes reported, adding that “meanwhile, her early attention to packaging would pay off” as “Kosterina’s social media accounts drew interest from top grocers, including Whole Foods, its top retail partner.”
“They messaged me on Instagram, and for a small brand like mine to get on their radar was a big deal,” Mountanos told Forbes.
Kosterina “is also available at Crate & Barrel, Food52 and gifting platforms like OnGoody,” and “the company is experiencing 300% YoY growth, a trajectory Mountanos says will continue as she enters new categories and expands her beauty line,” Forbes reported.
“We want to be the first brand to successfully cross both the food and beauty categories,” Mountanos told Forbes. “There are brands that have crossed food and supplements and brands that have crossed supplements and beauty but, there is really no one offering both food and beauty products at scale under the same brand umbrella with the same ethos.”