Today we’d like to introduce you to Theodora Ntovas.
Theodora, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
“YASOU” (pronounced ya-su) natural skin care gets its name from a common Greek greeting meaning hello, good-by but it stems from “A Toast To Your Health”.
I am a first generation Greek that was blessed to live and visit Greece as a child. My parents were both from Greece but met here in Chicago while attending night school. It was very important to both of them that my brother and I knew who are grandparents were and where they came from. My mother’s side lived in a small village in the mountains presently called Archia Feneos which is in the Peloponnese region near Corinth a few hours away from Athens. It was in this village where I Iived that I was blessed to experience “old world culture.
My grandmother would use natural ingredients like plants, flowers, homemade yogurt (goat milk) to create a lot of her health and beauty products.
After many years of working as a production artist, graphic designer, and art director I found myself not happy, I felt like I should be doing something bigger with more of a purpose. I also had distanced myself for many years from my heritage and was yearning to reconnect with it. I just had many things going on personally and emotionally within myself!
I felt a calling to return to the Greek village that I remembered so fondly from my childhood. That particular trip soon became a soul-searching and enlightening experience for me. While shopping at the village’s local farmer’s market, I discovered a DIY product made of beeswax and essential oils from the flowers in that village. I loved it! I thought about importing this product to the states and repackaging, rebranding it and selling it. I did try to work with the woman who was making it and ordered from her three times and each time the product came out differently. I thought there would be no way I could import this and try to market it because of the inconsistency and if I encountered any legal problems it would just be a nightmare.
During this period I was telling my husband how I thought there was a niche market in recreating the “Greek Experience” here in the states and how I noticed that a lot of the high-end skin care products at that time had a lot of preservatives in them and even ingredients that I felt were just not good but that what people probably really liked was the application experience of them. I also thought about how a lot of the natural/organic products were filled with really good ingredients just didn’t have the same application experience as the products in the department stores.
Well to take a step back in my story when I came to the conclusion that the importing idea of the beeswax product was just going to be difficult I became seriously saddened and than my husband Ray (who was listening to me this whole time) said “Terry why don’t you just put all your thoughts together and make your own skin care line here in Chicago and I’ll be your investor”. I then called a dear friend of mine at the time and was telling her about all of this and she said she thought it was a great idea and Ray was right and she would be my second investor.
I couldn’t believe it- I was really going to do this and I knew right away it was going to be Greek-inspired and what I was going to name the line. That name was YASOU because even tho it’s a common greeting it always means or stems from “A Toast To Your Health”
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It has not always been a smooth road. Finding the right formulator and manufacturer took about a year. I wanted to work with people who understood my concept, my philosophy and big picture intent for my skincare line. I started about 6 years ago and launched almost four years ago.
One of the hardest parts was finding containers, jars, etc. that were made in the USA. I wanted to make sure I used as many local sources as I could and it was difficult to find sources, manufacturers, and printers (for packaging) that would work in small batches for startups.
We talk about entrepreneurship here in the states but most of the times it feels like it’s only set up for big companies to succeed but remember and believe in perseverance (don’t give up) because you will find those sources and when you do they’ll become friends and allies in your growth because if you grow they grow as well!
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about YASOU natural skin care – what should we know?
Presently, I am a woman shop. I am the founder, manager, creative director, etc., etc., etc. of my company. I do need help and hope that I can add an intern or two in 2018. I specialize in skin care that is plant-derived, cruelty-free and unisex. I am known for being a luxe wellness local Greek-inspired skin care line that is transparent and really works.
I’m really proud that I use good ingredients and source locally using plant-derived ingredients – are cruelty-free.
I also contribute 10% of my annual proceeds to a charitable cause that would benefit children, women or animals. This year’s proceeds will go to Puerto Rico to help fund water.
What sets YASOU apart from others. I’m a first-generation Greek who is combining new world technology here in the states with what I remember from “old world” practices using good simple ingredients.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
There are always people who deserve credit- always. If it wasn’t for my husband Raymon Roth and my friend at the time Patience Pierce I would have never started. My life coach “Cindy Dove” of Purposed Lives who helped me realize that I wasn’t scared of failing but scared of succeeding!
To all my friends that encouraged and supported me and of course to all of my clients that continue to support and encourage YASOU skin care to grow.
- 8 oz. YASOU hydrating body cream with essential oils or aroma free $48.99
- 4oz YASOU hydrating body cream with essential oils or aroma free $24.50
- 2oz vegan hand cream $25.oo
- 1.6 oz vegan cellular face cream set $135.00 (10% off if you buy the set)
- 1.6 oz. vegan cellular day cream $70.00
- 1.6 oz vegan cell renewal night cream $80.00
- Holiday body care gift box $39.00. contains 1 8oz hand crafted body soap with bergamont and ylang-ylang essential oils, 4oz hydrating body cream aroma free, and a 2oz vegan hand cream. gift wrapped and FREE SHIPPING in the US
- Address: 1600 S Jefferson St.
Chicago, IL 60616
- Website: https://www.yasouskincare.com/
- Phone: 630-956-4163
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/yasouskincare/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/YASOUskincare/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/YasouSkinCare
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/yasou-natural-skin-care-chicago-3
- Other: https://yshop.org/products/yasou-natural-skin-care
Ola Orlikowsa, Janet Mesic-Mackie, Standa Merhout ,Vito Palmisano, Victoria-Clare Sulouf, Vanessa Guevara