Maria Vlachou talks to us
Maria Vlachou talks to us about her life and professional activity on Poros as well as about her volunteer work at Katheti. More about her volunteer work at Katheti here.
Tell us about your work.
I have a small business, the boutique Artichaut, with handmade clothes, on the island of Poros. I work during the summer season, from spring to autumn.
What is your relationship with the local area?
I live permanently on the island of Poros. I was raised here, apart from a period of time (10 years), when I lived in Athens. I came back and I run my business at the place where I grew up.
How has crisis affected your work and your life and how do you deal with it?
The crisis affected my life quite a lot. I changed profession and place of residence. I hadn’t created the conditions for an “alternative option” outside of Poros. Maybe I was intimidated by the possibility of failure and my diffidence that “I won’t make it”, so I took the most controllable risk possible.
Which of your knowledge and personality traits have been most useful to you in your professional life?
In my work, I am communicative, polite, pleasant, and I take care that all people are pleased. I speak and understand foreign languages, some from my studies, others from experience. Communication and the creation of a hospitable and beautiful atmosphere in my place of work are very important to me. I want everyone that comes into my shop to leave and return -whenever they return- with a smile!
What would you like to improve in your personality or work? What are your weaknesses and how have they influenced you?
This question needs a lot of thought and is should be clarified that personal shortages or flaws don’t necessarily affect one’s professional life. Let’s say that what troubles me quite a lot in both sectors, because, unfortunately, at this point, they affect each other, is bad time management. During high season I work every day. From March until the end of October. For quite a long period, personal and professional time are intertwined and co-dependent. As we all know, not all days are the same and in lines of work that we come in contact with people, things become even more difficult when there is a problem in one of these sectors (professional or personal).
What would you do differently and what do you consider as right steps in your career?
“Wrong” and “right” are relative concepts. It has happened to me to do the “work of my dreams” and realize that it wasn’t like “in my dreams” after all. I believe that, even if I had done something “differently” in my life, the results would have been more or less the same because of my temperament. Each one of us is a different personality, a small world. I don’t believe in right and wrong paths.
What piece of advice would you give to a young person who would like to do what you do?
I will start with this statement: Any and all advice that I have been given -especially the ones I didn’t ask for- I through them in the garbage! And I am very proud of that! Unfortunately, sometimes, when I care about someone, one of the ways to show this care is by giving them advice. It is a part of me that I detest and I would like to shed -if possible! The responsibility of the influence each one of us has on the lives of the people around us is very big. That’s why, if a young person asked me for my advice, I would tell them something that I would like to have heard myself when I was in their shoes. That would be: “Do it your way, look forward, I trust you, good luck!”
What are your plans for the future, short-term and long-term ones?
I avoid making plans for and having expectations of the future. Whenever I had expectations, they “stood me up”. This doesn’t mean that I sit on my hands, looking ahead into the unknown. Because of temperament and personal experiences, I have chosen a life stance that wants to go beyond words, into actions. I don’t “pursue it”, I wait for it to happen at the right time and by the right people.
Exactly as it happened with Katheti. I always wanted to become active in something charitable, having to do with culture, education, art. I would also like it to be at the place where I grew up and consist of people that would have the will to bring about change, not only on the island of Poros, but in our world broadly. As I already said, last year I gave remedial Greek language lessons to elementary school children from India.