Doing business these days is getting increasingly difficult due to competition from large companies that kill off their smaller competitors. Multi-nationals have moved in for good, and they can't be smashed. Small businesses are on the ruin, and they can't be saved. To survive in the business world today, you need to be selling a product or service that is unique and cheap, as well as sustainable. You've got to come up with an idea that no one else has thought of, and
the idea needs to be worked over in great detail both in theory and in
practice, so that the end result is a high quality product that people
will prefer over cheaper alternatives.
FISIKA : producers of organic olive oil soap products and personal care products like creams and balms. They use natural products to scent their soaps, including lavender, grown on the only lavender farm in Crete .
For this to happen, you obviously have to put in a lot of work, devoting your time selflessly to the task. Hence, it's best if you love what you're doing, because you will be occupying a lot of your time doing the same thing. There's no point in the early stages of a small business in hiring third parties to do the work for you - not only will they not be able to grasp your original idea and sense your vision (because they don't really understand it), their contribution will purely be of a functional nature and they will need to be paid from your profits, which will be small because your product is competing in a very tight business world.
Organically produced olive oil soap for the home, to be given as presents, and as a aromatising agent in rooms and cars, cupboards and wardrobes, all at reasonable and affordable prices.
Once you've worked out a really good new product/service, you've then got to market it in such a way that it reaches not just the mass audience, but also an appropriate potential audience. If you don't target your product to the right people, your super-product will fail to bring in that small profit that will keep you and your business going. Even if we love doing something, and our hands are hard-working, we cannot do it without a way to pay the expenses involved in doing it.
All the products are hand-crafted; the whole procedure uses natural processes.
After visiting the oldest olive tree in the world , I got back onto the coastal road instead of the highway to get back home. The highway is great for getting from A to B very fast, but it's not as well sigh-posted for sightseeing as the old national road, which in this case is the coastal road from Kissamos to Hania . Apart from historical and archaeological sites of interest, it hides many delights for olive devotees - organic olive oil producers, olive wood carpenters and olive oil soap makers , to name a few. These people are dedicated to producing wholly local natural products from wholly local resources. There is great interest all over the world in high quality natural products. Coupled with the move against multi-nationals constantly being in control over our pockets and our minds, these kinds of businesses have now made a great impact on the market.
Maria's hand-crafted soap carvings are the first thing you see before entering the FISIKA store.
The workshop of FISIKA, a producer of natural soap products, is located just a few metres past the old German bridge in Maleme* . It is run by Voula, Filio and Maria, three women who have been involved in soap making for many years of their life. Sisters Voula and Filio used to help their grandmother and aunt to make soap when they were young, while Maria now decorates and carves the soap made by her mother and aunt. As Voula explains
I've been involved in village activities all my life, even though I have lived in a variety of places like Germany, Alexandroupolis, and Samothraki, before coming to Crete, which I now feel is my home. Before I got involved in the soap business, I used to work in various places: restaurants, olive farms, olive processing units, the tourist trade, you name it. Before we even put it into our minds to open the business, we used to make the same soap we sell here in our own home. Eventually we began to experiment with herbs and essential oils for their properties and natural scents and different soap textures for different skin types. Gradually we realised we could be making these products on a larger scale. But we also knew that none of us could actually afford not to continue to work in other paid employment while we are building up the business. We have been open for about 18 months till now. And although we work many hours, every single day of the year, and we've had hardly any time off since we decided to open the shop, we enjoy what we do, and my tiredness is relieved from being involved in what I really like doing.
We use the standard Haniotiko olive oil soap in our home, so we are quite familiar with this natural product. But FISIKA's olive oil soaps have that added dimension which is lacking from ABEA 's products: they are made using purely organic olive oil, they are scented with organically produced substances, and they are all hand-crafted and designed in such a way that you are attracted to the product. My children also got the chance to watch part of the process involved in making soap, while I reminded them that this is what their grandmother used to do too, and this is what their father used for many years, which was made using their own olive oil supplies from the village fields. I wonder if yiayia is up to making soap one more time, to pass on the trade to me...
Organic olive oil soap for all skin types and scent preferences: palin, coffee-vanilla, laurel, ash-sandalwood, myrtle-aloe vera, nettle-rosemary, chocolate-jasmine, milk-honey and orange. These natural products, suitable for all skin types, feel beautiful to touch, they are lightly scented and of course, they are environmentally friendly to the greatest degree.
The Sika family's business is just another of the many that have come out as an answer to the crisis. Opening up a new business these days will not make you a rich person.
It will not pay off immediately. But if you enjoy what you are doing,
and you are devoted to perfecting your craft, it will be appreciated by
those who seek your product.
*The German bridge was originally built in 1901, using steel imported from Germany, but it was designed and built by Greeks. It was partly destroyed during the Nazi occupation, and was roughly rebuilt by the Germans. It has been renovated twice since then.