When Nikoleta Theodorou “fired” her boss, she was one step closer to returning to her homeland. But then, a strange thing happened.
Nikoleta Theodorou, the youngest daughter of a civil engineering company owner, was at the crossroads. She just quit her job because it was unfulfilling and there was no progression – and she had two options; either return to Greece and focus on her family or stay in the UK and try again.
She decided to stay, after her mother gave her the idea of making all these 100 year old recipes they had from their grandmother, into a business. This is how Urbangrains Ltd, a spunky, innovative Mediterranean food brand was founded. Nikoleta, with the help of her older sister Alexandra, who also works in the UK for an architectural firm, started working frantically on developing the brand; then something really interesting happened – while doing so, she was enjoying herself and started to discover her inner foodie.
Two years later, she is proud to be Managing Director of a vibrant food brand with a team of staff reporting to her.
“This task was not for the faint-hearted. I had to develop sales, design, copywriting and persuasion skills, while managing orders, talking to clients and fulfilling those orders” she says reflecting on her early days.
By the end of the first year the company had just landed an order with Partridges and earlier this year achieved a listing with Planet Organic. By working inside out in the company, and especially talking to clients, visiting the deli and restaurants, as well as working on the warehouse and behind the scenes all gave Nikoleta a good grounding in every aspect of the business.
“Right from the start I learnt about the food. I started visiting suppliers with my mum in Greece and had the chance to taste so many different sauces, olive oils and olives and develop a sense of taste that I never had before as well as appreciate good food.
“It is important to understand what we are selling and to be able to talk to clients and answer all of their questions. I am not a chef or a professional cook but I now have the knowledge to develop new tastes which customers will absolutely love. That’s an important part of how the business is run and what makes my job so interesting.”
The company now offers 24 different products, from pure everyday ingredients to high end sauces and chutneys, all developed in Greece from family recipes and have fanatical clients.
Her next goal? To achieve listings with Wholefood and Waitrose.