Greeks are renowned for having amazing youthful looking skin, leaving so many people asking ‘What’s your secret?’. To think of something that represents Greece, one would without a doubt say the olive tree. Not only do we eat its fruits but we use olive oil in almost everything. We cook with it, we slather it in our hair, on our bodies and even use it on cracked heels. Traditionally an olive branch was used as a symbol of peace, and according to Hippocrates, olive oil was used for healing skin conditions, stomach problems and ear infections amongst other things; Homer even referred to it as ‘liquid gold’.
With all things ‘nature’ being so on trend at the moment, many people are reverting to more traditional methods of skincare.
Personally as I get older I find myself wanting to enjoy simple luxuries; things that were never important to me in my youth. I want to wash my hands with a soap that smells beautiful and leaves my hands soft, I want to moisturise my body with a cream that smells and feels amazing, and there is nothing I want more than to wash my hair and be taken to a faraway place when I close my eyes in the shower.
It’s amazing how powerful our senses are, especially the sense of smell; a certain perfume can remind you of a person you knew a lifetime ago and a shampoo can remind you of a holiday you went on.
Frank Remoundos is the director and distributor of the O.LIVE brand here in Australia and finds the local market to be supportive of the products.
After a recent holiday to Greece where he fell in love with the products he felt as though it would be a great fit for Australia, seeing as we are one of the world’s largest consumers of olive oil, as well as having such a large Greek population. His prior experience in the industry made it an easy and natural decision for him to bring the products to our shores.
Another common Greek symbol is the pomegranate, a beautiful fruit symbolising good luck, abundance, youth and fertility. O.LIVE has an entire range dedicated to pomegranate that has me completely smitten.
It’s called the Pink series and it includes hair and body care products.
True to its name, the entire O.LIVE range is infused with Greek olive oil from Crete which is a big deal for the locals.
Winter on the island is spent pruning the trees by either beating or shaking the olives off onto canvas before pressing them for oil.
Stremmata (acres) are passed on through generations and ravdisma (pruning) is something families still enjoy doing together through the cooler months while they spend their days working and eating lunches cooked on coals.
Olive oil is thought to be a rich source of Vitamins A, K and E, and may help fight against ageing and free radicals our skin is susceptible to from exposure to life living in a city.
The O.LIVE range appears in exclusive hotels around Greece and the islands, and is used in popular spa facilities such as the Sofitel’s.
The range is can also be found in CoCo Mat locations around the world as their exclusive beauty range.
The O.LIVE range is free from parabens, propylene glycol, and paraffin and the products cover face, body, hair, spa, home, and amenities.
Currently, Frank and his Australian team are responsible for shipping O.Live to Asia, America, Canada, and New Zealand, with Greece headquarters still managing Europe. I sat with Frank and asked him a few questions. Here is what he had to say:
How did O.LIVE come about?
O.LIVE started as a hotel amenities and spa range. The founder Androklis Terzakis and his family own 5-star luxury hotels in Greece including the Sofitel in Athens, the Grand Hotel in Rhodes, and Laguna Resort & Spa in Crete, among others. As part of the high-end customer service, O.LIVE products were provided as part of the in-room experience and used in luxury hotel spas.
What was the main inspiration behind the brand?
The founders wanted to treat the hotel customers to products that would provide a true ‘Greek’ experience.
What’s better than olive oil from Crete, plants and herbs from the Greek flora and packaging inspired by patterns found in the floors and walls of ancient building from all around Greece?
People loved the products and started asking to purchase in a retail size. The demand was so high that it was only a matter of time beforethe retail range as we see it today became available.
Were there any major issues getting the brand to take off?
There is certainly huge competition in the market, especially within the natural products segment. It is hard and you have to fight to rise above so many brands currently available to consumers.
What do you think has attributed to such a global success for the brand?
I think the fact that the O.LIVE hotel and spa range was first made available to luxury holiday-makers to try firsthand (and they loved it) has much to do with global success.
We constantly get enquiries from all over the world from people that went to Greece on a holiday and used the products in their room or spa and now are eager to buy more.
Part of O.LIVE is owned by the Coco-Mat, a very successful Greek company, with concept stores all around the world.
How big is the O.LIVE team?
It’s not very big really, but it consists of people passionate about the brand. The founder is very hands-on and takes pride in overseeing every process that takes place.
How did you come across the products and decide they were something you wanted to bring to the Australian market?
I have been distributing natural products from Greece in Australia for over 10 years.
I was in Greece on holidays last year and noticed that most of my friends there were using O.LIVE products.
Everyone was raving.
The O.LIVE head office is only a 15-minute drive from my parents’ house in Athens, so I made contact with them and went for a visit. Just walking into that office and smelling the products in the air was enough to convince me to commit to it.
Were there any hurdles you encountered that were unexpected or has it been an easy transition?
Nothing is easy these days, but O.LIVE has great potential in our market and with some hard work, I’m certain that it will be successful.
What has the brand meant to you personally?
I was 26 years old when I came to Australia and memories of Greece are very strongly engraved in my mind. Although I do go back every year, I always look for products, visuals, smells, and anything that I can be using in my daily life that brings back those memories. O.LIVE certainly does that.
It is also a pleasure working with the owners and the O.LIVE team in Greece. I come from the same area so I see them as more than business partners.
What are your favourite products?
I use the lavender shampoo and shower gel but also the eye contour cream. Years of Greek sun have created quite a few lines around the eyes!
They are quite unisex products in terms of packaging and scents, was this intentional? Was it part of the plan to appeal to the modern male?
They had to be unisex as hotel amenities and spa treatments. But when it developed into a retail range, the unisex concept was already proving to be successful so they did not steer away from it.
Male consumers of natural beauty products are not a minority anymore. So it works [well].
Tell me something I wouldn’t know about O.LIVE?
The brand name is actually pronounced ‘o laiv’ but many say ‘olive’ instead. The meaning behind it is that the olive tree, fruit and everything that comes from it represents life, especially for the ancient Greeks. It’s like saying ‘alive’ but with an ‘o’.