Meet the Producers: LADOLEA
LADOLEA is our brand that exists under company Melissi. We produce in-house, with 100% control on a superior quality, a wide range of Organic & Extra Virgin Olive Oils in unique reusable handmade ceramic pots. Since our inception, our range has expanded with a very premium Organic Sweet Vinegar with Bergamot and a range of travel size Extra Virgin Olive Oils in unique flavors.Thanos, please explain to us how the amazing journey of LADOLEA started
It all started when we went on vacation to our village, during the olive harvest to our village, Our village Melissi is not far from Athens, located at the Corinthian region of Greece.
One of our uncles invited us to participate in the harvest and to see how our grandparents lived and worked. We loved the experience, and were soon waking every day up at 5 AM to observe the harvesting and processing of the products of the sacred olive groves. We found it fascinating and a wonderful challenge. At the ages of 24 and 26 my brother Panos and I gathered a team of chemists and olive producers with the aim to to improve production techniques in our’s and to our neighbor’s lands. Over time we decided that we wanted to do something special: we established Melissi and began to produce the award-winning LADOLEA extra virgin olive oil.
We will never forget the moment we were in the olive mill and saw the extra virgin olive oil pouring out for the first time. An incredible golden green color full of flavor and aromas. It is then that we realized that something that may seem so common and simple in our daily lives, hides such beauty and magic behind.It's all Greek to me...where is Corinthia and what is so special about that area of Greece?
All of our products and olives are harvested in Corinthia, Peloponnese.
It was back in 2012 when our modern approach was matched with the years long traditions and experience of extra virgin olive oil producers that runs in our family. Our heritage led us to launch the LADOLEA brand under our company “Melissi”. We named our company “Melissi”, after our grandfather’s village in the Peloponnese, a place where we spent our childhood summers, getting to know the beauty of the Greek land. And here we are, returning back to Melissi, where we played as kids, in those exact fields, harvesting one of the most famous Greek products in history. Our premium Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Who are the people behind the brand and the product?
We were born and raised in Athens. Panos studied Chemical Engineering at the National Technical University of Athens and I (Thanos) followed Finance at Panteion University. The launch of LADOLEA was our first and only project after our studies. Quite a risk but it was done so organically and with so much passion that it felt right from the very first moment. Regardless of studies and degrees, we believe that what has contributed in our academic and professional career, is the love for the Greek land that we have inherited from our grandparents. We are a team of 4 based out of our HQ in Athens and we also collaborate with 17 cultivators of olive groves from our region. We are really all hands-on, we are involved from the first step to the last.
What is the inspiration behind the LADOLEA ceramic pot?
From the beginning it was really important to find a special way to present our high quality extra virgin olive oils. Something unique that would be our personal statement. So we researched what the ancient Greeks did with their extra virgin olive oil, how they stored it and used it. In the museum of Ancient Corinth, we discovered the ‘aryballos’ – a small ceramic vessel that was used for extra virgin olive oil and perfume. We visited many pottery workshops and finally redesigned the vessel with the guidance of our friend and product designer Spyros Kizis, giving it a modern touch. It feels very special when you pour a LADOLEA Extra Virgin Olive Oil as it has a dominant, powerful yet beautiful and peaceful position on the table. Quite an experience from the moment you pick it up to pour, to the moment you taste its uniqueness.
We’ve just launched 4 new flavors of our Extra Virgin Olive. Chili, Oregano, Lemon and Garlic. These are packed in travel sized twin pots of 80ml each that look and feel absolutely fantastic. We’ve been getting some incredible feedback so there are thoughts of expanding the range. We are also planning the launch of new Greek Foods, but still in early stages. We work hard on R&D, it is very important for us to ensure that whatever we launch, it is of the highest LADOLEA quality.
As a young producer in this traditional field what do you find the most challenging and the most rewarding part of what you do?
This business adventure does not only have joy and happiness. There are a lot of difficulties too: the economic situation of Greece that has changed everyone's mood and perspective and the huge competition in foreign markets are just a two of many elements that could discourage you every day. There may be disappointments and mistakes, however when you finally succeed and make them part of yourself and learn to live with them, you have won the battle, you have created something greater.
This journey to date has taught us to how to co-operate, to listen, to be patient, to accept our mistakes, to respect ourselves and others, and to use what nature has to offer us generously. It is important to have people next to us that we trust and love and to evolve with them. Being in the right place at the right time with the right people was the best thing that could have happened to us.Where do you see LADOLEA in 5-10 years from now?
Our products reflect who we are now, the passion we have inside and the ‘fire’ for very selective, exclusive and premium quality Greek foods. It’s not about where we see LADOLEA in the future, but it is about how we see ourselves within LADOLEA. Our brand matures and develops according to how we develop. We were too young when we first started so we had the enthusiasm and passion, today 8 years later, we have passion and enthusiasm with experience and in two years all these factors will triple and so on...therefore LADOLEA in ten years will probably be an oldie but goodie, a cult product that will be surrounded by lots and lots of newness.