How did the brand get started?
YSSO is derived from the word gold in Greek, but as a word on its own it has no formal meaning. I started the brand with my mother. She was always fascinated by jewellery - ever since she was small, growing up in Cyprus. She used to play by herself with pebbles and creating small pieces of jewellery. She became an archaeologist and carried out numerous excavations around Greece during the 1980s.
Around 2014, after finishing my studies in the U.K., I began training as a solicitor in a corporate law firm in the City of London. I quickly became disillusioned by the corporate lifestyle and wanted to create something of my own. After finishing my training contract, I saw the opportunity of creating a brand that is centred around beautiful design, imagery and strong core values.
I wanted YSSO to be a blank canvas for everyone who wears our pieces part of their story, and part of their life.
What does YSSO mean to you personally?
It personally means a lot to me. Firstly, because it was my opportunity to learn from my mother and about my mother. It was my opportunity to allow myself to become a creative and actually take a completely opposite route to my pervious career.
Beyond that, it's my avenue for expression. With this, I pushed myself to do things that I had never done before. Things that I always wanted to do, and maybe was scared to. I allowed myself to be creative, and the brand became a vehicle for that creativity.
I am now co-designing our pieces with my mother, which is an even further push toward the creative side of the brand. I'm a very visual person, and that translates to how I design. I'm inspired by the fast-paced city life and the calm and depth of culture found in Greece.
What inspires the products?
I grew up in Greece and during my 20s I have lived in the UK, Belgium and France (and Greece in the summers).
This has really inspired my own aesthetic and the design of our YSSO pieces. I'm a very visual person, and that translates to how I design. I'm inspired by the fast-paced city life and the calm and depth of culture found in Greece.
The products aim to be the hybrid of these two ideas.
What challenges have there been along the way?
There have been quite a few challenges, mostly centred around the fact that I was completely changing career. Doing that, and having no particular background in the industry you are entering is a challenge of its own.
Then there are the usual entrepreneur challenges, which I believe everyone starting a journey like this must be facing - doubts, concerns, and internal struggles. That's something that comes with the journey of starting your own venture, and these are the beautiful and self-discovering aspects of that journey.
What advice would you give to others starting a business?
I think it’s super cliché, but you always need to persevere. One of the most useful things to do is listen to podcasts of other entrepreneurs - a special favourite of mine is NPR's How I Built This with Guy Raz.
Another very useful thing is for anyone starting a new venture like this to understand themselves and their emotional and phycological limitations. I found what Mo Gawdat has to say on this super interesting:
“Worrying is the brain’s default position. Research has shown that we tend to think negative - self critical, pessimist, and fearful thoughts more often than positive thoughts. Most of us tend to be negative most of the time.”
I think that's something that would always be useful to keep in mind, as an entrepreneur in particular. I'd also recommend Gawdat's episode of the podcast How to Fail with Elizabeth Day.
Where do you want to take YSSO in the future?
I want YSSO to become one of those brands you think of as having created something special. Something that has a meaning to people. To do that, I need to extend its reach, continue creating new designs, images and ideas.