Tell us a bit about yourself – what is your name and your business?
My name is Elsa Koppasi , I am Greek and my business is called Woodpicker and is located in the centre of Athens. I was 50 by the time I started working with Chalk Paint® by Annie Sloan. At the time I was practising as a psychotherapist - I still do three days a week - and as my kids had all grown out of the house I thought, “what a good idea to open a small shop and paint”. One thing led to another and I soon became a distributor along with my eldest son. Now we have a network of almost 50 stockists in Greece and the Balkan states.
How did you come to create this business?
The reason I opened the shop was the fact that my kids grew and I was left with all these endless hours. Mums can feel left a little lost when they do not have to run around for ballet lessons, basketball or tennis, English lessons or parties here and there as taxi drivers. Time was there and I was still young. So I decided to make my hobby into a business.
What inspirational people have you looked to throughout your career?
All women are an inspiration as multitasking human beings. There were a lot of women in my life that inspired me both in my work as a psychotherapist or answered my philosophical questions in life. Just to name few, I always go back to the works of Alice Miller who wrote about the trauma in her 'Prisoners of Childhood' or Hannah Arendt a philosopher who left us this masterpiece titled "The Life of the Mind" and I could go on and on name poets or painters or singers who are partly responsible for who I became. Annie Sloan herself was an inspiration for me and played a major role in my decision to open my shop and work with the paint, mainly because of her way of selling her products. The no-competitive (no undercutting, support one another) ethos among her stockists and her amazing stamina in dealing with every little detail just spoke to my heart.
What was the single proudest moment you’ve had in business?
When along with my stockists we voluntarily painted the bookshelves of the new "Bookstore for the Homeless" and we made the place look lovely. It was the idea of a homeless person who lost everything during the Greek crisis and started by collecting books here and there and managed to inspire people with his dream to create this bookstore. The money he makes goes to support people in need.
What advice do you have for anyone starting out?
Believe you can do it. Work hard. Inspire others. Create a community.
And finally, if you were a Chalk Paint colour, which would you be and why?
I love Greek Blue. It is the colour of my sea, my sky, and my childhood on Greek islands.