AusMumpreneurs, meet the mothers of great success

"The importance of sharing our story and showing others how they too can do it"

They are women, wives, mothers, good Greek daughters and hard workers. It is 2021, not 1951 and yet this is the reality for Greek Australians carrying on the legacy of their own mothers and successfully hitting the mark in all facets of their lives.

Cathy Dimarchos told Neos Kosmos she defines ‘balance’ as the “ability to realign my work around my values and set boundaries”, and it is this skill which has earned her a spot as a finalist in this year’s AusMumpreneur Awards.

“It allows me to have the ability to make choices on what is important and how that looks so that I can create the structure that I need to make things work for me and my family in that period of time,” she said, adding that much has changed

The Sydney-sider is joined by fellow Greek-Australians Aphrodite Frilingos-Bouari (WA), Maria Dalamaras (NSW) Cassandra Kalpaxis (NSW) in seeking the top prize of the Ausmumpreneur Awards which will be announced on the 8-9 September during an online event.

Also among the finalists are Ms Sophia Arthur Pallas (QLD) and Viria Charitos (NSW).

There are at least two non-Greek finalists with Hellenic surnames due to having married Greek: Mary Maksemos from Victoria and Toni Lontis from Queensland .

Neos Kosmos spoke with five of them to pinpoint the common challenges they face, such as time management and dealing with the so-called Imposter Syndrome, the feeling that they’re not as deserving of their success as they evidently are.

Cassandra Kalpaxis – Breaking the stereotypes with perserverance

Cassandra Kalpaxis from ‘Kalpaxis Legal’ is a finalist in ‘Business Excellence’, ‘Rising Star AusMumpreneur of the Year’, ‘Women’s Champion’ and ‘Service Business’. She told Neos Kosmos that there’s “a lot of pressure that comes with being a business owner and being a mum of young children”, such as not having maternity leave, working odd hours and having to juggle court work with breastfeeding schedules. “They would actually be brought into court so I could feed them by my husband,” she said.

COVID-19 has made life a little tougher, with home schooling and additional demands, but Ms Kalpaxis said that she is “extremely grateful that I have an incredible team of people who work with me that make my life easier with technology, the management of my diary and the scheduling of things”.

“There is also a perception that still exists amongst some people about working mothers, and the deeply engrained perception that you can’t do your job well as a woman when you have children at home,” she said, adding that she is finding her balance.

“I spent many years navigating my business, my life goals and what I wanted my life to look like. For me expanding my business and putting on staff has meant that I can choose to be present for more things at home or at school. I can be selective with the clients I choose to work with and it has made the balance between being mum and being the boss a little easier.”

Despite finding her balances, she still feels “mum guilt” but believes that her children are learning that with “hard work and dedication you can achieve any goal you set your mind to”. She has been transparent with her children about her work, effort and “how it’s okay to make mistakes as long as you try your best.”

Her children, Luca and Penelope, visit her business often. “They know how important they are to my business and in turn I hope to be teaching them the value of human connection and team work,” she said, adding that her children have seen her write a book, be on TV, and have celebrated her success while knowing the hard work that goes into it.

“They know that mum goes to work because she loves her job,” she said, and realising how important time is, Ms Kalpaxis does her best to “make the most of the days that I have at home or when I am not at work so we can have fun.”

Cassandra Kalpaxis began her boutique family and fertility law firm 10 years ago. “I started my business with a desk, $500 in my office account and my laptop,” she said.

“The AusMumpreneur awards are absolutely incredible and I am proud to say this is my third year participating in the awards with them. It is also my third year as a finalist,” she said, adding she feels “humbled and incredibly proud”.

READ MORE: Greek family values, fundamental to innovative lawyer’s success

Cathy Dimarchos – The super mum and super daughter

Cathy Dimarchos’ business, ‘Solutions2you’, is a finalist in the ‘Women Will Change the World’ category. She accepted her nomination after having rejected it last year.

“This year when I was nominated again, I realised I needed to accept so that I could show other mums the importance of sharing their story and showing others how they too can do it,” Ms Dimarchos said.

“I created ‘Solutions2you’ with the purpose for impact. As an Advisor, Coach and Strategist that supports businesses scale and deliver leadership programs to develop high performance, I have more than three decades of experience in Finance, and Business and am a qualified Counsellor,” Ms Dimarchos said.

“Today I juggle work with looking after my ageing mother. This is an area that many people overlook. For some of us, it about working whilst raising children and then the privilege of being able to look after aging parents.”

Times have changed and taboos have been broken. “Some 20 years ago, we had eyebrows raised that I was a working mum who travelled a great deal for work and my husband was more of the stay-at-home dad and more involved with the kids. There was no roadmap for us to follow – we created our own way and our children grew to knowing boundaries and values whilst developing skills which I guess can perhaps be seen as resilient and antifragile.”

Ms Dimarchos, from Kozani, will also participate in judging the awards this year.

Cathy Dimarchos has seen women’s role change in the last 20 years

Maria Dalamaras – The digital whiz from St Euphemia

Maria Dalamaras’ Digital Marketing business, Rio Consulting Group – named after her son, Gregorio – is a finalist in the ‘B2B Service Business’ category.

Her business fills a gap in the market she pounced to fill by assisting other mothers, like herself, to improve their digital marketing strategies.

“A lot of my friends were looking for someone to take over their social media accounts and do websites, but they could never find anyone that they connected with… My business is solely growing on word of mouth on a referral basis within the St George area, so that to me is a successful story,” Ms Dalamaras told Neos Kosmos.

She attributed her ability to juggle work with motherhood to two sons, aged three and four, to her strong support network.

“My mum, Irene, and my mother-in-law, Gina, have really been priceless. They help and they love and nurture my children in my absence… My husband, Bill, also had to step up in terms of being more available when I’ve got meetings,” Ms Dalamaras said.

Ms Dalamaras, whose father is from Rhodes and mother from Kavala, said she feels a strong cultural connection to Greece which was amplified by her schooling at the Greek Orthodox College of St Euphemia in Bankstown, south west of Sydney.

“St Euphemia has been a big part of my life and they’re so embedded in my culture through many ways like religion and so forth,” she said.

Maria Dalamaras is chuffed to be a finalist

Aphrodite Frilingos-Bouari – The Kytherian dessert Innovator

Aphrodite Frilngos-Bouari’s dessert bar, Sweet But Psycho (SBP), is a finalist in two categories: ‘Creative Entrepreneur’ and ‘Regional Business’.

The business idea grew from her experimentation in her mother’s recipes after moving from Sydney to regional Western Australia three years ago.

After receiving positive feedback from the locals, she expanded her dreams.

“Two years later, SBP has evolved and is a fully licensed boutique cocktail and Mezza lounge and dessert bar! It’s the prettiest venue in town and soon to be the first of its kind with future plans to expand to a CBD premises!”, Ms Bouari told Neos Kosmos.

Her business ideas could not have emerged without the support of her family (a common theme among all these businesswomen).

“Running a business and being a domestic goddess really isn’t an easy gig but accepting that you are not going to always get it running like clockwork all the time helps you overcome the heavy metal and physical burdens this lifestyle brings,” Ms Bouari said.

She believes in the value of separating the two parts of her life so she can look after both her business and her two daughters, Nevaeh and Eden.

“Differentiating them both is sometimes a struggle but identifying the importance of the divide is the first step,” Ms Bouari said.

Aphrodite Frilngos-Bouari outside her successful business. Photo: Supplied

READ MORE: Elle Likopoulos, Greek mother of four wins Ausmumpreneur of the Year 2020

Mary Maksemos – The designer who married into the Greek family

Maria Maksemos, a woman of Egyptian descent who married a Greek man, is a finalist in five categories: AusMumpreneur of the Year, Business Excellence, Creative Entrepreneur, Service business, and ‘Business Pivot.

Her business Maksemos Group works in industrial design, specialising in kitchens. She, like many other businesswomen, believed in the value of setting a positive example for her children when it comes to work ethic.

“If you think about what your skillsets are, every person always has some way to feed themselves. I think that children seeing their mother working is very healthy as it helps set the bar for them to follow,” Ms Maksemos told Neos Kosmos.

Unlike the majority of businesses in Australia, Ms Maksemos found ways to utilise COVID-19 restrictions to her benefit by utilising cost-effective strategies and being proactive in her business.

“Using zoom consults, developing apps and developing things like VR tools to help customers see and stand in a space before they purchase it. Those big, beautiful showrooms that cost about $100, 000 fitting out minimum are starting to be obsolete because everything is online. The overheads, insurance and rent of these places is nuts and that kills your business before anything else,” Ms Maksemos said.

Mary Maksemos enjoys the best of both worlds as an Egyptian who married Greek

More mums in the fold

Neos Kosmos reached out to other mothers who have yet to respond to us. These are Viria Charitos, ‘MEBEME’ (skincare products), has been recognised in the ‘Retail Business’ category; Toni Lontis, ‘Toni Lontis Enterprises’ (Live streaming TV and hosting radio shows), has been announced as a finalist in the ‘Disabled Business Excellence’, ‘Global Brand’ and ‘Overcoming the Odds’ categories; Sophia Arthur Pallas, working as a wellness copywriter and launch strategist, a finalist in the categories of ‘Digital Service Business’ and ‘Overcoming the Odds’.

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