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14 April 2015

Interview with our alumni, Karathanasi sisters, presenting their new venture: Guts & Tales

Eleni and Stephania Karathanasi

Eleni and Stephania Karathanasi both graduated from the International Faculty, CITY College, after completing the MA in Marketing, Advertising & Public Relations at the International Faculty and then set off to Amsterdam to chase their dreams.

As students, except for their academic performance, both sisters stand out for their creative mind, extrovert and dynamic personalities, team spirit and positive attitude.

Today, except for building a career in marketing and advertising, Eleni and Stephania have set up a quite original venture, Guts and Tales.

We found them and they told us all about it. It seems like Karathanasi sisters have guts and definitely will have a lot more tales to say in the future!

 

Eleni and Stephania Karathanasi

What was your route after your graduation and up until you launched Guts & Tales?

E: After graduation I moved back to Amsterdam where I started working at the EMEA headquarters of Starbucks. I worked two years in the Marketing Department for Starbucks Netherlands before I made the transition to the agency world. I wanted to be on the other side of the fence, at the core of creativity. I got approached for a job at Wieden+Kennedy Amsterdam as a Producer Assistant and absolutely loved it! Unfortunately due to the economic crisis and unforeseen budget cuts I soon had to leave WK. I moved to a design agency, Design Bridge, in an account manager role and after 1,5 year, WK approached me again to come back as a Jr. Producer. It didn’t take me long to take them up on that offer. That’s where I am right now, full time working and setting up Guts & Tales in parallel.

 

S: One week after submitting my Master dissertation, I moved back to Amsterdam. I didn’t take any time off and started applying for jobs all over the world. It was AKQA Amsterdam, an international digital advertising agency, that hired me right away. I’ve been working there for 1,5 year now - officially an Account Executive but mainly supporting the strategy team. We set up Guts & Tales simultaneously, in the evenings and our weekends.

 

 

What does this new venture involve?

Guts & Tales is an interview-based platform where we share real stories of people who took a leap of faith from making a living to making a life.
A UN ambassador that built her own fair trade fashion brand with no budget, an architect that is now a food designer. Our aim is to inspire, motivate and give those practical handles most people don’t have access to. We want to provide the how as this is the biggest obstacle we face once we start thinking about changing direction.

 

Eleni and Stephania Karathanasi

How did you come up with the idea?

E: There seem to be two camps in my circle of friends. People pursuing a career based on what they truly want to do and people pursuing a career based on external factors. I wondered why the majority of people belong to the second camp and were actually living a live that didn’t fulfil them. They* seemed to be living towards the weekends, the next holiday, sabbaticals or their next pay rises.
What a shame that so many talents remain undiscovered, dreams un-chased and ideas undeveloped! What a waste of our beautiful lives!
So, we figured why don’t we share the knowledge of the first group of people with the second group so they can start making steps towards a life that really makes them happy.

*“they” – I was belonging in this category as well. When I went back to myself and asked myself the honest question of what I really want to do in my life I figured I want to meet inspiring people, write and share knowledge to help people. That was the start of the idea.

 

S: At the starting point of my career, it was quite a shock to see that for most people, making a living and making a life are two fundamentally different things. I believe that there is great knowledge to be shared from those who don’t belong to this group. Guts & Tales is the answer to that.

 

What do you wish to achieve through Guts & Tales?

Help, inspire and motivate people all around the world to kick out the fear and encourage them to start living their lives to the fullest. We would love nothing more than to share stories of people all over the world from different continents, backgrounds and opportunities. Ultimately, hopefully Guts & Tales can be a story itself, from an interview-based website to an online and offline platform that can help achieve people what they truly want in life.

 

Do you really think that it is easy to link your career to what you truly want? Doesn't making a living make it difficult to go after your dreams?

We absolutely think it is possible to link your career to what you truly want. Not necessarily overnight but surely in the long run. A question we always ask to the people we interview is how they manage financially, as we know money is considered one of the biggest obstacles for people to pursue their dreams. By giving insights in how all these people have done it from a financial point of view we want to show that there are always opportunities. For instance, some people we spoke with started slowly parallel to their job that helped them pay their bills. Doing what you truly want is usually not pursued overnight, but start working towards your dream definitely is.

 

 

And what if you don't really know what dream to go after?

Good question! This is very valid for our generation. Due to the countless possibilities and opportunities we often don’t know what to choose anymore - stuck in the paradox of choice. Amongst the stories on our platform, there are people that didn’t know what they wanted to do, but they knew one thing; they were doing something that was not making them happy. We believe that it doesn’t really matter if you don’t know exactly what you want, but if you know what you don’t want, realise it and act on it, then you’re definitely going the right direction.

 

Working with your sister: does it make it easier or harder? How's the cooperation between the two of you?

Easier, though working as sisters is wonderful and challenging at the same time. We both have different personalities and skill sets that supplement each other. These differences can be challenging, but by embracing them at the right time, and focusing on the similarities instead, we built and are building Guts & Tales.

 

Eleni and Stephania KarathanasiWhat was the greater lesson you learnt at CITY College?

E: Interpersonal skills in a multicultural environment.

 

S: Soft skills are as important as hard skills. (Thank you, Mr. Nikolaidis)

 

What would be your advice to our students graduating this year?

E: Do some self research and think about what YOU really want to do. What if there was no one else with an opinion about you and your future in this world? What would you do? Once you have the answer. GO and be prepared to work really hard to get exactly that.

 

S: The fact that no one has ever done it before doesn’t mean it’s impossible; it probably means it’s a great idea. Take the time you need to figure out what you want and how you think you can achieve it. It doesn’t matter how fast forward you’re going, as long as it is forward.

 

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