Stratis Camatsos standing by an olive tree

Drawn by an interest in health benefits and sustainable production, professionals from fields like law, medicine, and jewelry making have been turning to Greek olive oil. Loutraki Oil Company’s Athanasios Katsetos and Maria Guadagno Katsetos share with evo3’s Stratis G. Camatsos a dedication to using Greek extra virgin olive oil to help improve the world.

The former attorney Stratis G. Camatsos told Greek Liquid Gold, “I always wanted to start my own business. Of course, when I started my legal career, I thought that would be my own law office. But as time passed, I wanted to do something different. I wanted to build something that would give back to the environment and to people. And since my family had the olive oil production already, and I had such fond memories of the production, the aromas, the sounds and atmosphere surrounding all aspects of the harvest, it was a logical decision to build on this passion that I had with olive oil, but to always link it to an environmental and social cause.”

Trading a legal career in the USA and Europe for the olive oil business during the Greek economic crisis, Camatsos started a company called evo3. He worked with his father, who had reinvigorated family olive groves on the island of Lesvos using organic methods. Their environmentalist concern extends even farther than sustainable production—all the way to Haiti, Ethiopia, and Madagascar, where a tree will be planted in a deforested area for every evo3 product sold, to help with reforestation and support local economies. That is not all: a donation will also be made to the American Association for Cancer Research for each product sold, and evo3 also supports the local economy by working with a women’s cooperative in Lesvos that produces their sweet olive jams.

Camatsos has no regrets about either the beginning of his career or the direction it has taken. “My legal background is absolutely useful in my line of business, as I am dealing with agreements and contracts all the time. The law profession also teaches you how to read and analyze people, and this is good in business.” In addition, “always being a professional in my legal career, I have tried to bring the same professionalism and honesty that I am accustomed to, to the Greek olive oil sector, as customers and consumers abroad need to trust Greeks and olive oil producers, since both have taken a bad rap due to some people in the sector creating an unsavory reputation for this treasured product and sector.”

That is a reputation Camatsos is striving to improve through his business dealings, his environmentalism, his social consciousness, and his high quality, award-winning products. As the evo3 website says, “the circle of life begins and ends with trees.” He and his team hope to inspire “others to heal the world one product at a time with our food revolution.”

Loutraki Oil Company's Maria Guadagno Katsetos sitting at her desk

Also deeply concerned about promoting health and helping others, Loutraki Oil Company’s Athanasios Katsetos and his wife Maria Guadagno Katsetos both switched their professions “to dedicate our lives to the olive oil industry.” Athanasios began his focus on healing in medical school, expecting to follow in the footsteps of his parents, doctors with their own medical clinics. Maria started out in her family’s custom jewelry business, studying business administration and business management in Rhode Island, USA. But when they started their life together in Greece, they decided to turn to olive oil, which Maria considers “one of the world’s healthiest products.” So they “studied, did research, created products, reached out to people, and got really passionately involved” in the olive oil world.

As Maria explained to Greek Liquid Gold, Athanasios studied medicine but then decided he “wanted to go down the path of natural health. He believes food is more important than medicine in treating and preventing health problems and thought it best to help people naturally by encouraging the daily use of good, pure unadulterated olive oil.” So he added “many, many acres of olive trees” to those he had inherited “and devoted his life to organic olive oil cultivation. He knows the healthy power of clean organic extra virgin olive oil and loves to provide his customers with only the very best. He wants everyone to reap the benefits.” And with their award-winning Elea olive oil, many do.

An American, Maria did not expect to marry a Greek man and move to Greece, but after she did, she combined her management and business skills “with my husband’s passion and expertise and helped to build the Loutraki Oil Company.” Believing she was “born for business,” Maria was initially more interested in her family’s jewelry making enterprise, where she learned from the work ethic of “honest, faithful, hardworking good people” in her family. However, she credits her husband for getting her “hooked on olive oil,” and now she would not give up the olive oil business “for the world. I am helping others in many ways through this business, and that fills my soul and spirit more than anything else.”

Maria adds, “today in my own factory in Greece, I apply my family’s work ethic to my own.” Always fascinated by the creation of new products, she would like to share her education and experience by offering “business workshops in Greece to help people improve their business skills and succeed.” Already, “my husband and I have helped educate countless farmers, workers, and those starting out” in their own olive oil businesses. Maria is proud that her company weathered the Greek economic crisis, as her father’s survived American recessions. “We do what’s right, knowing we sell a product that brings health and happiness.”
Maria believes “hard work always pays off. The key is not to give up on something you believe in; if it’s a good and honorable thing you believe in, you can see it grow.” Grow like Loutraki Oil Company, like evo3, like the trees planted in deforested areas to restore them to life and prosperity.

This is the fourth in a series of articles on Greek professionals from various fields who have changed careers by diverting their energies to the olive oil world. The first in the series is Turning to Olive Oil: Why Greek Professionals Shift Gears; the second is Turning to Olive Oil: Two Women Head Back to Cretan Groves; and the third is Turning to Olive Oil: From the Classroom to the Olive Grove. Thanks to Stratis G. Camatsos (top of page), Athanasios Katsetos, and Maria Guadagno Katsetos for the photos.

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