The Cool Projects
A successful cosmetic brand illustrates how inspiration and business can coexist with the countryside and inner peace
Fokilidou is one of the most fetching streets in Kolonaki, Athens. Quiet yet peppered with interesting stores, car-gratingly narrow and lined with leafy bitter orange trees. It was also once home to a ground floor gallery housing artefacts from the Middle East. Behind the pleasingly bulbous Mesopotamian terracotta pots, the multi coloured porcelain tumblers modelled after disposable plastic ones which I purchased and still treasure, presided the willowy and graceful figure of Marina Coriolano-Lykourezos, the founder of Cool Projects with her life partner Yiannis Zagoriannakis.
Their products were recommended to me by one of the Magic Cabinet’s fairy godmothers, an invaluable friend brimming with imaginative recommendations. Cool Soaps’ first brand is the Essentials Collection, hand fashioned soaps made from extra virgin olive, plant and essential oils, utilizing the cold process method to make them, which retains their moisturizing glycerin. It takes six weeks to yield mature soaps that are not uniform in shape and colour yet which have an exquisite richness on the skin. The second collection called Elements, is coloured with clays and also offers brightly coloured soap flakes in delicious scents, liquid soaps which glide like scented honey over your hands and enriching body butters.
Their home décor brand -The Cool Collection- presents slatted and perforated marble and wooden dishes, essential for drying out the soaps’ viscous surfaces. The toiletry bags and sachets scented with soothing lavender are made with robust striped linen designed by Yiannis and Marina.
Cool Soaps’ first brand is the Essentials Collection, hand fashioned soaps made from extra virgin olive, plant and essential oils, utilizing the cold process method to make them, which retains their moisturizing glycerin
In 2012 Marina and Yiannis, a craftsman and artist, were aware of the financial crisis which had impacted Greece and were ready to depart the hectic pace of Athens in search of a life extending beyond the urban norm within the haven of Aegina, the island nearest to Athens.
They realized that their work trajectory needed to follow their lifestyle relocation. Both had prestigious academic qualifications from London universities yet the somnolent pace of Greek island life, with the sea and sunlight dictating one’s timetable, caused them to look to nature as a motivator. What they saw in Aegina were groves of olive trees producing thick, Greek, yellow green oil which was becoming recognized worldwide for its excellence and which became the basic ingredient of their new business.
They had no lure of a family home to which to return nor any agricultural inclination. Making commercial soap was not an ancestral tradition. Yiannis has a propensity for alchemy, blending chemistry with artistic flair. Marina’s business perspective and sophisticated aesthetics mentored their business plan and the tasteful packaging. The Cool Projects focus on collaboration and embrace two small soap factories, two graphic designers who also undertake the photography and two seamstresses.
Yiannis has a propensity for alchemy, blending chemistry with artistic flair. Marina’s business perspective and sophisticated aesthetics mentored their business plan and the tasteful packaging
The overall location of "The Cool Projects" is within a small universe of which it is inherently proud. The batches are small, the contributing artisans have small workshops, the entire production process is nurtured by the founders whose benchmark is quality and sustainability. In the bucolic environs, the company dog Tara keeps watch. There are birds singing and roosters crowing, blending with the jazz and bossa nova soundtrack played within the sunny workplace. The landscape is green with low mountains and many glistening olive trees, lapped by the still waters of the Saronic Gulf.
Yiannis and Marina passionately believed they could create a successful cosmetic brand away from a major city, that inspiration and business can coexist with the countryside and inner peace. This passion is what differentiates their products.