NEW YORK – Zeus and Dione are the parents of Aphrodite. ZEUS + ΔIONE is an exciting young luxury brand inspired by the diachronic beauty of Greece and the practitioners of the country’s traditional crafts. What they have in common, is magic. The former ruled pre-history, the latter are building New Greece,
The firm, which produces apparel and household goods and is developing its accessories line, has been up and running for two years. It was established by two friends, Dimitra (Mimika) Kolotoura and Mareva Grabowski, and now has goods in more than 58 stores worldwide.
Excitement is building over the opening of their flagship store in Athens this year.
As happy as the partners are with their success, they are also thrilled that their firm has been cited as a model for their country as an outward-looking company with roots planted in Greece.
Every region of Hellas has a treasury of gifted people who create unique goods of high quality which delight fellow Greeks and foreigners alike, and the two women seek them out and bring them aboard.
Zeus-Dione is now 90 percent export-oriented compared with 30 percent last year. Mareva told TNH “Our main goal is to create jobs internally and export,” and they now employ 16 people directly and 100 others indirectly.
Visitors to their website, zeusndione.com can view their products and learn that “The two friends revisited the Greek folk and high art heritage with a fresh eye and created a brand…that features handmade, high quality products based on refined craftsmanship. In collaboration with different entities such as manufacturers, small workshops, artists and designers.”
Swift growth, beyond what their well-laid plans projected, calls for additional talented brains, so the partners have been aided by consultants and a new CFO Giorgos Kondilis, and they have expanded their production under COO Yannis Kolotoura, Dimitra’s brother.
Their market is “the sophisticated world traveler who recognizes quality but who also appreciates the simple things in life,” according to the website.
“When we announced to the world in the beginning that we will explore all of Greece seeking people who are expert in traditional production, there was great interest,” Kolotoura said.
She just returned from Paris Fashion Week where their showroom was very successful.
Marveva told TNH Beaumarchais, Paris’ biggest department store, is carrying them as a brand and gave them space for a two-month installation that will combine the presentation of Greek culture and their products.
Grabowski is on her way to Asia and the Middle East, where their products are already in stores, to explore new opportunities with major chains.
Their strongest presence in the U.S. is on the West Coast, but their products are also available in Chicago and New York.
Mareva thanks God they are doing well in light of the Greek crisis thanks to their vision and hard work, and being featured on top industry websites like net-a-porter.com and matchesfashion.com.
Vogue just selected them as first on its list of the top five new designers of swimwear on the strength of the Resort 2015 line of jewelry and swimsuits.
“Simplicity is paramount for us,” Kolotoura said when she described the bathing suits. They have replaced the term “minimalist” with the word “Doric,” the order of ancient architecture with the simplest, most elegant lines.
The suits, created by their designer Lydia Vousvouni, are “feminine but not overly sexual,” and Mareva said “The collection was inspired by geometric abstractions or shapes and forms, combined with beautiful colors.”
Their success has strong twin roots in their appreciation of traditional materials and production methods and the people involved.
They put together an exceptional team of producers from Xanthi in Thrace to Crete. Dresses and shirts are weaved in Metsovo and Crete and embroideries are stitched on in Crete, and the partners are constantly scouting Greece for new people to collaborate with.
The company introduces the producers to the guidelines it has developed.
“We take a folk object and apply the principle of simplicity,” Kolotoura told TNH. For example they will take a traditional vest that is elaborate and filled with embellishments, and refine it by abstracting some elements.
Kolotoura also talked about Zeus-Dione’s homeware line. “You will see more of it in the future now that we realized how many people across Greece are working in that industry”
Greece’s new entrepreneurs, some right out of school, others with experience in other industries, are bringing a fresh energy and mindset to the Greek economy.
Mareva studied marketing at Harvard and worked for a Swiss bank before she came to Greece. Kolotoura, whose parents are from the island of Syros, has a marketing background and has the stronger connection to the fashion industry.
“We decided to leave our previous jobs and successful careers, but what drives you goes beyond career enthusiasm. You feel that there is a real chance to create something,” they told TNH.