Episode 102
April 19, 2022

Blessing and a Curse

with Katina Mountanos, Founder and CEO of Kosterina

About this episode

Today, Lee is joined by Katina Mountanos, the Founder and CEO of Kosterina. Founded on the simple belief that high-quality olive oil is a superfood, Kosterina is on a mission to set a new standard and showcase how extra virgin olive oil works from both the inside and outside to provide significant health and wellness benefits. In this episode, Katina shares her journey from growing up as a Greek American living between Long Island and Greece, to starting her first company, to working for Jet.com, to launching Kosterina in 2020. She talks about how Kosterina started as a side hustle, what she wished she had known about selling wholesale, some limiting beliefs she had to overcome around fundraising, and why she's expanding the brand into the beauty space.

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In This Episode You’ll Hear About:

  • What it was like growing up in Long Island and spending the summers in Greece, surrounded by family and growing into her Greek heritage 
  • What her mid-20s were like, interning at Estee Lauder, as well as traveling and working in London
  • To attending Harvard University for her MBA, and why she pursued that direction so she could have the career switch into CPG companies 
  • Her experience starting her first business, Manicube, and what she learned from marketing, running PR, running the business, and what it was like getting acquired by Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spas
  • What qualities she believes to be important for people when building a consumer products brand
  • How taking a deep dive to learn about extra virgin olive oil led her to create Kosterina, in the hopes to create a hero brand across different categories 
  • Why she’s expanding the brand into the beauty space 
  • The positive benefits Kosterina experienced with the pandemic, launching just two months prior to COVID-19 hitting the U.S.
  • What she wished she had known about selling wholesale, and her experience launching in Whole Foods
  • What’s next for Kosterina including a deeper dive into the beauty space and launching more food products

To Find Out More:

https://www.kosterina.com/ 

Quotes:

“I fell in love with that autonomy that you get in a small environment when a company is in its earlier stage”

“I started to think about starting my own business. I had this idea that was interesting and I wanted to pursue it.”

“If you’re thinking about taking roles at early-stage companies or venturing out on your own, honestly there's nothing better from a learning perspective than being at a small company because you really just do and learn so much.”

“Authenticity and being mission-driven really, really helps when building a consumer products brand”

“If you do have a team that is mission-driven, they're willing to come along for the ride, even though everything might not line up perfectly for them”

“It's easier to inspire a team when you really believe in the mission of the company and what you're building.”

“Olive oil has very potent antioxidant benefits for skin and hydration benefits.”

“Get it out into the market and get some feedback because it's when you get it into consumer's hands and you're getting that sort of feedback loop that you can really begin to build a business on a product that people love”

“Fundraising can be so demoralizing as an entrepreneur.”

“What I want to build is a wellness platform with extra virgin olive oil at the core.”

“Expanding too quickly can be detrimental”

“There's a lot there that just really gives you sort of the drive and the passion to build and work hard for what you want to create.”

“Loving entrepreneurship is a blessing and a curse.”

Read the transcript

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