Selfmade Experts: Evangelia Koutsovoulou from Daphnis and Chloe

Evangelia Koutsovoulou is the woman behind Daphnis and Chloe, a business concentrated on herbs and spices. A feature on Freunde von Freunden x hey woman!

The shop front of Evangelia Koutsovoulou’s culinary herb and spice business, Daphnis and Chloe, can be smelled before it is seen. Located beneath the Acropolis and Philopappos Hill in Athens on an open tree-lined street, the soothing aroma of essential oils from her suppliers permeate the light and airy space.

Like so many young Greek people, Evangelia exudes a refreshing sense of self awareness and a no-bullshit attitude. She speaks in a discerning and humble manner, illuminating the realities of her life in Athens, and the evolution of the now famous Daphnis and Chloe herb company. The very beginning of Evangelia’s journey into herbs and spices, whilst no doubt informed by her upbringing, began organically, influenced by location and timing. Her story, and the subsequent success of her business remind us of the value in following your gut, in taking risks and in embracing the unknown.

 

Evangelia’s decision to move to Athens and found a business in the wake of the financial crisis may have appeared risky, especially for someone who was growing in her job and had carved out space for herself in an already difficult industry in Italy. But for Evangelia, once she had begun there was never any doubt in what she was doing. Athens was the best place to run a business that dealt with Greek culinary herbs and Evangelia’s passion, drive and success reflects the psyche of so many young Greek people who refuse to be defined by a crisis not of their making.

In the day-to-day running of Daphnis and Chloe, Evangelia deals with a range of harvesters in remote locations around Greece, a process requiring an intimate knowledge of the landscape, weather, farming and communities. Her self-described obsessive research skills, as well as a strong contact base of friends and family, have helped her to seek out the highest quality herbs and harvesters. She maintains different kinds of relationships with suppliers, some of whom have been surprised to meet a young woman at the head of the business, and some of whom have become like family. “In terms of sourcing our produce, its human relations,” says Evangelia. “Through this job I have learned to negotiate – you have to put water in your wine, to let things go, and to step back sometimes. Things might not work out exactly as you have imagined them, and you have to make peace with this idea.”

 

In the old commercial center of Athens, Monastiraki, you can still wander aimlessly down entire streets specializing in one particular product. There is a street of door handles, a street of glasses, a street of ropes and so on. Evangelia has been inspired by the dedication, expertise and specialization of these merchants. In a time where companies are continually generalizing, where parts of products are manufactured in opposite corners of the globe, where the seasons no longer dictate the food we see on supermarket shelves, there is so much beauty and sense to be found in the natural, in the organic, and in the specific. With Daphnis and Chloe, Evangelia invites us to celebrate the kind of detailed flavors our globalized existence so often causes us to miss.

Thank you, Evangelia, for your time and your ‘Oregano from Amorgos’—we look forward to visiting you next time we are in Greece.

If you find yourself in Athens, head to the shadow of the Acropolis and visit Daphnis and Chloe at Erechtheiou 19, 11742. If not, you can find the herb of the moment on the Daphnis and Chloe website here, see a full list of their stockists here, or follow along via her Instagram account (@missgoodherbs).

You can find the whole feature about the Athens-based entrepreneur Evangelia Koutsovoulou and her business Daphnis and Chloe here at Freunde von Freunden.

Text: Grace Herbert
Photography: Adrianna Glaviano