Two best friends with a dream of bringing Greece and all it has to offer to Australia. A dream that was revisited many times throughout the past thirty 30 years, especially after the passion and inspiration felt after a visit to Greece. A dream that has finally been realised.
Alexandra Zervos and Andrea Ibrahim are the founders of AlexAndrea Living, an online store and shop in Queensland, Australia which houses beautifully designed clothing, footwear, accessories, and homewares all made in Greece by talented, eclectic young Greek designers.
GCT recently chatted with Alexandra about bringing AlexAndrea Living to life, the importance of giving Greek designers an opportunity to be accessible to the Australian market, and her love for Greece.
Where were you born and raised and where do you live now?
Andrea was born and raised in Melbourne and moved to Brisbane in 2001 when she fell in love with her husband. I was born and raised in Melbourne as well, currently I live out of a suitcase between Athens, Brisbane, and Melbourne!
Where in Greece are your parents from?
Andrea’s father Ron is from Avegerinos and mother Kalliope is from Ptolemaida. My father Antonios is from Ithaki and my mother Argiroula is from Argos Orestikon-Kastoria.
How did you meet and become friends?
From memory, Andrea and I met through mutual family friends down the beach where we used to have our summer holidays and also at Greek school, I think it was Grade 3 or 4. We bonded instantly and became friends. Saturdays were at Greek school and school holidays were spent down at the beach. Our friendship reignited and became stronger when we both coincidentally on the same date were going to Europe on our big vacation. At the airport in Australia, we swapped details and met up in Greece and travelled through Greece together. Since then we have been like sisters and have stuck together through good and bad times. Andrea is the sister I never had and has always supported me and given me strength.
What did you love about growing up Greek in Australia?
Family unity, Greek culture, philotimo and of course Greek food
Tell us about AlexAndrea Living?
The journey began approximately 30 years ago when we travelled through Greece together. During this time our love affair and roots grew stronger with Greece- its people, the land, culture, food, history, fashion, and lifestyle. We were both so proud to be of Greek heritage. This is when our dream began to bring a touch of Greece and what it had to offer to Australia. On returning from Greece we spoke about our dream from time to time in regards to opening a store in Australia and each time we went to Greece for holidays this dream got fuelled. However, our careers took us on a different path. Andrea cultivated a career in the finance industry, fell in love and moved to Brisbane to raise a family. I pursued a career with my big love being fashion in the designing and buying sector and I travelled the world for work. In 2012, I decided to travel the world for leisure and moved to Greece for a long holiday. During this time I discovered again how amazingly eclectic and talented young Greek designers were and how, due to the financial crisis, they were all going back to their artisan roots and producing everything in Greece. At this stage I was so proud of them, I saw them fighting the crisis, creating the most amazing products. I decided to call Andrea and the dream was reignited of bringing Greece to Australia. The timing was right, we both decided, with the support of her husband, to make our dream, and that of many young talented Greek designers, come true. It was about giving back, in providing talented and dynamic Greek designers and artisans living in crisis with the opportunity of spreading their wings, and our dream of bringing the magic and beauty of Greece to Australia has also become reality.
How do you go about selecting the items for your store? Who is the AlexAndrea Living customer?
Firstly, it must be made in Greece with love and passion. I always look for items that are unique and eclectic. It must have style, quality, and comfort (when it comes to clothing or shoes). The AlexAndrea Living customer is someone who appreciates good quality and uniqueness with style and finesse. Someone who wants to buy something different that isn’t everywhere. We buy for all age groups. We have homewares, clothing, gifts, ceramics, jewellery, swimwear, shoes, boutique olive oil and much more.
What are your favourite items from the store and why?
This is a hard question… each item has its own beauty and has a place in my heart. I have asked Andrea this question as I am biased and love all the product. Andrea says "It's hard to choose, everything is so unique and detailed. Our A&A Greek sandals which are made for us especially. The styles are unique and they are so comfortable on, I suffer from a bad back and I wear mine every day with no issues as at all."
What makes Greek designs different to the rest?
From what I have noticed the fabrics they use are so soft and natural and of course their designs so unique, classic with a edge, so much versatility with their ranges. They certainly understand the woman’s body, each style is so flattering. Their vision, rich culture, passion and love of the country and what it supplies comes out in their designs from candles, pillows, olive oils, ceramics, clothing to shoes and so on.
Do you feel like you have 2 patrides?
Absolutely, Greece is in our blood and I have felt it even more now that I spend more time in Greece working with talented Greek designers. I have one foot in Greece and one in Australia. I love both countries very deeply and both are home for me. Andrea also feels the same that she has 2 patrides especially since becoming a mum of 3. Her heritage has played a big role in the upbringing of her children. We both love the way of Greek life as it teaches us to live for every moment!
What is your wish for Greece?
For Greece to flourish again! It is such an amazing country that can offer so much to everyone. For all Greeks to reunite and become one and support and help one another.
What can customers expect to see at AlexAndrea Living in the future?
More exciting and different products and introducing new designers constantly. Bringing quality and uniqueness from Greece to all of Australia. We are very excited as we have just launched our online store and are constantly uploading new pproducs so all of Australia can visit our online store.
We are also celebrating a 1stbirthday and would like to offer the following to all Greek City Times readers -OKTOBERFEST @ ALEXANDREA LIVING! It's our first birthday and Andrea and myself want to share the love and extend the celebration to one and all! Visit us ONLINE atalexandrealiving.com/discount/HAPPY-1ST-BIRTHDAYfor the month of October and/or enter the Code: " HAPPY-FIRST-BIRTHDAY " at checkout to receive 10% OFF your ENTIRE ORDER VALUE!