You are a staunch promoter of sustainable living which is transmitted through the bee culture and reflected in Apivita’s products. Do some of Greece’s ancient philosophers also have something to say about this?
Mr Nikos Koutsianas: The most important philosopher for sustainability was Aristotle. Plato was also close to these ideas as a business.
How would you describe the essence of Greek culture and where does the honey bee fit into this?
Mr Nikos Koutsianas: In Greek mythology, Aristaeus was the god of shepherds and cheesemaking, beekeeping, honey and honey-mead, olive growing and oil milling, medicinal herbs, hunting, and the Etesian winds which provided some respite from the scorching heat of midsummer. We draw our inspiration from Hippocrates, known as the “father of medicine,” Theofrastus, considered the “father of botany” and Aristaeus. Bees have been around for 120 million years. It’s very important to see the bee society according to sustainability. Bees live for only 20 days to a month, so their societies are constantly renewing themselves. They are sustainable. The bees also provide sustainability for plant life and the environment, thanks to pollinating flowers.
Three years ago Apivita teamed up with the Spanish cosmetics company, Puig from Barcelona. Tell us a bit more about this partnership? Why Puig and why at this time?
Mr Nikos Koutsianas: We chose Puig because it is also a family company, like Apivita. They share some of the same values and ideas as we do. We have a very good relationship with them and share respect for one another. This collaboration for me is a success story. The timing had to do with the fact that at the moment Greek banks are not in a good position to help companies grow, so we wanted to find a partner who could inject some capital in our company and help us grow. With Puig we also share our relationships with distributors and partners in international markets. They are present in 115 different countries. This year, Apivita will enter into 10 new markets. We are currently present in 8 countries.
Is it true that Apivita was originally founded in London?
Mr Nikos Koutsianas: In this period they did not permit here in Greece to have a company and make some of the products. You had to be a company outside of Greece, so we founded Bee Products Ltd. in London. We then marketed our products in Greece as if they were from London, but they were in fact made with Greek ingredients and in Greece. Apivita products were once sold in Harrods, but eventually it did not work out. We are now selling our products at the Harvey Nichols department stores. Being in London is a must, as it is a metropolis of trendsetters. We want to become a reference in London and we studying what is the best strategy, also some online platforms.
Through this interview you have the attention of Britain’s business and investor community, so perhaps to conclude, and on behalf of ISO PLUS, this is your opportunity to share a powerful message with the influential readers of The Times?
Mr Nikos Koutsianas: The future of business belongs to companies like Apivita, with innovation, with philosophy, with values and with social responsibility. Little by little consumers are beginning to value this and buy only from companies that embrace such a philosophy. Corporations today are a disaster. Only 3 to 4% of businesses globally embrace sustainability and the values that we have at Apivita. There is a need now for a revolution when it comes to corporations and business, and this can be fueled by the younger generations.