Earlier this year we said goodbye to our super talented and quirky communications guru, Maria Kambourakis. Although it was a sad moment for Sustainable Table, we didn’t dwell for too long because she was following a long-held dream to start her own lifestyle brand, Anouk Gania.
Maria’s newly launched products are a range of perfumed candles inspired by Greece. These candles took over a year to come to fruition because Maria meticulously researched the sustainability and ethics of every ingredient, element and packaging choice to ensure her footprint was minimal. They are hand-poured in Melbourne, are made of a plant based wax blend, have a pure cotton wick and are contained in a delicate, mouth blown limed glass vessel perfect for re-use.
Today we had the pleasure of chatting to Maria about her recently launched range. Enjoy x
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START YOUR OWN LIFESTYLE BRAND AND TELL US A BIT ABOUT THE NAME, ANOUK GANIA?
So many things! I wanted to make beautiful creations; I had a desire to celebrate my heritage in a fun way; I wanted the ability to run with my crazy ideas and be as weird as I like! The name Gania is my mother’s surname and I wanted to pay tribute to her because she’s the strongest most generous and caring woman I know. Anouk is simply my favourite name ever, so I had to include that.
WHAT IS THE FIRST RANGE YOU’RE LAUNCHING AND WHY THE REFERENCE TO GREECE?
I’ve just launched with a small but considered collection of perfumed candles inspired by the seductive landscapes of Greece. Why the reference to Greece? Why not? Greece is such an amazing and diverse landscape. From the hot rocks of the islands to the dark green cypress trees of the Northern mountain regions, there are so many delicious aromas permeating from its landscape that it’s perfect for an olfactory tribute.
Also, my parents were born in Greece and although I grew up in Australia, I was raised in a very ‘Greek’ way. I really feel like I belong to two cultures – Australian and Greek. I wanted to pay homage to my Greek side and celebrate it in a modern way. Also I was feeling nostalgic for Greece and due to practical reasons can’t live there just yet – so I brought the essence of the country here.
I SAT NEXT TO YOU FOR ALMOST A YEAR HEARING ABOUT THE TRIALS OF LAUNCHING AN ETHICAL BRAND, TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE PROCESS, WHY IT WAS SO CHALLENGING AND WHY YOU PERSISTED?
You did, you poor thing. Sorry about that. The trouble is mostly that Australia – although advanced in so many ways – is a little behind the 8-ball when it comes to eco-innovations. I think the issue specifically is that our market is very small compared to countries like the USA for example. So innovations that are more commonplace overseas aren’t necessarily cost effective for businesses to employ here because the innovators don’t see a huge marketplace to sell their solutions to us. It was a difficult process and in some areas I won, in others I had to compromise for now.
WHAT MAKES ANOUK GANIA MORE ETHICAL AND SUSTAINABLE THAN MANY OTHER SIMILAR PRODUCTS OUT THERE?
I want to say that most high-end brands work extremely hard to operate in ethical and sustainable manners and many times these are achieved by default in the pursuit of the highest quality products. In terms of Anouk Gania, it was about being very selective about my suppliers, choosing Australian manufacturers wherever possible and forming good relationships with them. It means my costs are higher but I believe people are willing to pay a little more for a product they know has been created with ethics and sustainability in mind. I also donate a portion of all sales to The Big Issue (a not-for-profit dedicated to supporting and creating job opportunities for homeless, marginalised and disadvantaged people). It’s my philosophy that you shouldn’t be in business just to take – businesses should contribute to building a better society and that’s my way of doing it.
IF YOU HAD TO PAIR EACH CANDLE WITH A MEAL WHAT WOULD IT BE?
The Villa – The aroma of a Greek villa garden warming under the morning sun (Lemon, Jasmine, Rose, Orange Blossom)
Food Match – lemon sorbet sprinkled with rose water crystals.
The Church – The aroma of a Greek church, made of stone and wood (Cedarwood, Labdanum, Vetiver)
Food Match – red wine casserole of wild rabbit and french shallots.
Winter – The aroma of wood stoves burning on a cold misty morning in a small village nestled in the mountains of Northern Greece (Smokey Birch Tar, Elemi, Guaiacwood)
Food Match – delicately smoked layers of eggplant with black salt and soft goats cheese.
The Island – The aroma of a Greek island; hot rocks, sun warmed skin, distant olive groves (Bergamot, Nutmeg, Sandalwood) Food Match – chilled cucumber soup with yoghurt and dill.
Sounds to me like an olfactory dinner degustation could be the next big thing, and if so I’m in!
For more information about Anuok Gania or to get your hands on any of their products, visit