It's All Greek - a story
Way back in 1999, a Classics teacher with a passion for ancient Greece had a crazy idea. That teacher was me, Elinor, and the crazy idea was It's All Greek. This year, I celebrate 20 years since the launch of the website.
It's hard to believe, but at that time, there were no smartphones, internet connection was mostly 'dial-up', and my Greek suppliers and I communicated via fax. Also.....
- Amazon and Google were just 2 years old
- Ebay UK just 1 year old......
- It was 3 years before iTunes
- 4 years before Facebook
- 5 years before Etsy
- 10 years before Instagram!
Since the launch of the website in early 2000, It's All Greek has been selling a combination of fine replicas of ancient Greek art. Bronze, marble, pottery, ceramics and jewellery, all under one aegis, and all from the very best suppliers in Greece and the UK. The USP of It's All Greek was the fusion of suppliers, media, textures, and styles, and the product range embraced miniatures, gift items, and large interior design pieces.
From 2003, I had a succession of three shops near the British Museum, supplied the movies 'Troy' and 'Alexander', museum shops including the Oxford Ashmolean and Cambridge Fitzwilliam, famous bookstores Blackwells and Heffers. Most important of all, there have been thousands of enthusiastic and appreciative customers all over the world.
I have been particularly lucky to have been working with the Semitekolo family foundry in Greece since 1999. The bronzes have formed the bedrock of It's All Greek's collections, and have brought me without doubt the greatest joy of all.
Also in Greece, I have been working with the Lioulias family workshop since 2004, with the Ioannidis family for gold jewellery since 2002, and with the Vaphiadis family for sterling silver jewellery since 2007. Christina Koulouria painted the most glorious huge vases for me for over a decade, and there were many other smaller Greek suppliers along the way. In the UK I am lucky to have been stocking pieces from Sculptured Arts Studio for ten years.
By now, all my suppliers either have their own websites, have their own shops on Etsy or Amazon or Facebook, or sell online through other websites and businesses.
Since June 2018, It's All Greek is, once again, exclusively online. I am running the website and the business on my own, flexibly, from home. I have, since leaving the shop in 2018, qualified as an EFT practitioner, and I'm building up a new little business alongside It's All Greek, but that will not involve bubblewrap!
In this 20th year of It's All Greek, I am having a Big Sort, and reducing the number of larger pieces. I'm planning to stock some UK-made contemporary ceramic pieces by Sotis Filippides this year, which is very exciting, as well as extending the range of smaller bronzes. With Brexit changes at the end of this year, it's an ideal time to rethink. When It's All Greek is 21 years old, it might be time for it to flee the nest? But for now, it's business as usual!!
It has been such a privilege to have an amazing number of former pupils, students of Classics, and recently graduated Classicists working with me over these last 20 years. We had so much fun!
The greatest gratitude of all goes to: Louise (now Manager at the main Fitzwilliam Museum store in Cambridge), Jasmine (who went on to Burberry and Disney, and is now a full time mother of two), Lauren (now living and working in Bristol), Alexandra (who is Gallery Manager at Ariadne Galleries in London), Nicola (working at Yarto and specialising in product design and running the business), and Kate (now selling fossils at 25a Museum Street!). These six were my closest accomplices and on my little Odyssey, and our friendship continues. My thanks also to all those many others who joined us from time to time along the way.
(My parents Dilys and Wynne with me on a nostalgic 'revisit' in Athens in 2003. Dil died in May 2005, and Wynne in April 2010.)
A bit more...
It all started in 1972.
My parents, Dilys and Wynne, took me to Greece when I was only 12 years old. There began my passion for Greece. My history teacher, now in her 92nd year, still reminds me of the painted polystyrene corner of the Parthenon which I proudly produced during the weeks after this trip!
After reading Classics at St Hugh's College, Oxford, I took a bilingual teaching qualification in my home city of Cardiff. I taught at Queen's Gate School in London for 16 years, then set up my own teaching business 'Locus Classicus' whilst pondering setting up It's All Greek.
Every time I took a group of students on a Greek trip, I would return laden with bits and bobs I'd bought along the way, to use in lessons or to give as presents. A tiny bronze tripod from Delphi for the Iliad and Odyssey topics, a little limestone owl for the GCSE Athens topic, a red-figure pot with Oedipus and the sphinx for the Tragedy topic. And a bronze Cycladic head, just because I was entranced by it. It was all downhill from there!
The collection had grown, incrementally, to a critical mass that gave me the idea to set up a little online shop. Why not?
With no knowledge of websites or the first clue as to how to import from Greece to the UK, things weren't looking too good at first. Nor did I have any idea of where to find suppliers, let alone how to pay them. And I didn't speak modern Greek then either....
How things changed! My own Odyssey.