31 Jul 2009

Interview with....

I received an email just this week from Katie who is the founder of http://www.cocomale.com/, she wanted to introduce her lovely homes and accessories products, sourced from around the world such as Indonesia,Vietnam, Swaziland and Morocco. Well I just had to have a peek, and as well as finding some great products at http://www.cocomale.com/, also discovered that Katie has been one very busy lady in the last couple of years, not only has she changed Career direction, but has set up her own business, expanded into interior design by mail, and is planning her forth coming wedding! Wow I had to find out more about this lady. So grab yourself a cuppa and have a read of our little cyber chat.

Over the last couple of years you have been a very busy lady, can you tell us the reason for moving from investment banking to starting your own home and accessories website coco male?
It was a combination of things – boredom with what I was doing (as I’d been doing it for 7 years by then), I was unhappy with the environment and the people in general as it was becoming more and more money- orientated (and consequently less ethical) and my entrepreneurial gene was tugging at me relentlessly to do something on my own!!
whats your own personal style when it comes to the interiors of your home?
My favourite look is undoubtedly the ethnic look, but like Coco Målé, I don’t have just one style.
My living room is a mix of Far East/ Moroccan style, while my bedroom is Scandy chic style in sea blue and white!

The website sells unique products from around the world, have you done lots of travelling, and if so where is your favourite place and why
To be honest, I really don’t have as much time as I’d like to go travelling (when I started I thought I’d be spending 6 months a year in Asia!), but yes I have been fortunate enough to visit quite a few lovely places around the world... Two of my favourite places are Rome – it combines history, with great food and shopping, and New York (of course!), but for product sourcing, Asia and Africa are my key destinations. My most recent trips were to Marrakesh, Kenya and Zanzibar and we have another trip to Vietnam coming up in the Fall.

In your blog you mention your family a little, have they been an influencing factor with regards moving into interiors?
No, the contrary in fact. Most members of my family are involved in interiors in one way or another so I guess I got the bug from them, but they really really didn’t want me to go down that route and convinced me to study economics instead of architecture at university... So as you can imagine, they were horrified when I announced I was leaving banking!

Congratulations on your forthcoming wedding, I see from your blog that your fiance is keen for you to have a relaxing honeymoon (no working!), are you always on the look out for items while you are away to add to the website?
Yes, everywhere I go and I have to contain myself at times not to spend all the company’s cash!!! I’m always on the lookout for things, even if it’s not for buying purposes - I go to competitors’ shops to see what they’re selling, check out what kind of décor restaurants or hotels have and browse the Internet for hours on end...

when you get time to relax what do you like to do?
I like being outdoor as much as possible, so I spend a lot of time in London’s parks, with Coco of course, usually playing fetch or chase on my rollerblades, something I would definitely miss if I ever returned to Greece. I also go to many aerobics and yoga classes (need to shift some pounds before the wedding) and as a typical Greek, I love cooking and eating!!!

You are Originally from Greece, do you miss it?
I’ve been in London for nearly 11 years now, most of my adult life, so in many ways I’m more of a Londoner than an Athenian, but I do miss my family and the food and it is that much harder in the summer when I go back home and my friends are all super tanned! My dad always makes fun of me and says my arms are like loaves of bread (white, not wholemeal bread that is)!!

what has been some of the highs and lows of setting up in business, and have you got any tips for people thinking of changing Career direction?
The highs are every time we get a lovely email from a customer saying they were delighted with their purchase or when we get a mention in a major glossy and of course the fact that I can be with little Coco 24/7! The lows – where do I start?! Not receiving any orders at all in the first few days even though 53 people visited the site (I hadn’t heard of conversion ratios back then!); sending e-mail upon e-mail to the press only to be ignored; managing to finally get a product placement in a major newspaper only to find out that the specific product has just been discontinued by the manufacturer (Murphy’s law); rude customers who claim they never received their parcel when we clearly have their signature; or customers giving us a bad review because they tried to call us once at 5.50pm and we were already closed (as opposed to 6pm - yes, we do have some of those unfortunately)... I am a firm believer that one should always do what the heart says, but I would advise people to really think it through properly before making a career move, to be prepared for a lot (and I mean a lot) of hard work, practically no income in the first few years and to remember that all jobs have their problems – the grass is not always greener on the other side. Also, for anyone thinking of running their own business, I have 3 words: self-motivation, persistence and patience.

The products for the website are sourced from developing and third world countries such as Indonesia, Vietnam, Swaziland, Morocco and you also have fair trade, Eco- friendly and recycled products, why is this and do you think it is important to support and provide fair trade, and Eco friendly products.
Not all our products are fair trade or eco-friendly and I don’t select products solely on that basis, but yes I do make a conscious effort to source as many of these as possible. I think the world, including myself, has come to realise that it’s just not ok to satisfy our consumerism to the detriment of the environment or young children being exploited and it is worth it to pay that bit extra to ensure this. I’m also a big fan of handmade items and good old craftsmanship, which is why most of our products are sourced from countries like Indonesia and Swaziland and not China for example...

and finally your little Yorkie dog is called Coco, is the website named in his honour?
I had the concept and name for the website before I got Coco (although the website was officially launched later on) so it’s actually the other way round!! But it’s funny because people always think it’s pronounced coco male (mail) and so think I’ve named the company after Coco who is a male dog!!

Katie also has a lovely blog which you can find at here check out some Yummy delicious cakes here You can find more lovely global homes and accessories at http://www.cocomale.com/

Thanks to Katie for sharing with us an insight into her new business, and I wish her the best for the future.


  1. thanks so much for interviewing me Samantha!!! It was great fun...

  2. Great interview. Love your excitement and creativity. It took alot of gumption to make such a huge change!


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