In honor of Mother’s Day this May, our She Shines series spotlights the mother-daughter duo, Elena and Melisa, of The Mediterranean Lifestyle digital magazine and platform. We felt their connection immediately on our first conference call and loved their energy together. See what they had to say about working together, best practices of well-being, and family values of the Mediterranean!
SheFari: It’s amazing to have you guys be a part of our She Shines series. We love the fact that the two of your started this passion project together. So how did you end up in Mallorca, and why you decided to focus your publication on the Mediterranean lifestyle?
Elena: It all started in 2012 when circumstances in my life changed, and I decided to up-sticks for a new adventure and leave Germany where I grew up. I wanted to be somewhere warm and close to the sea, as it has always fascinated me so much. My decision to move was quick but well-considered. Melisa commuted from Germany until she finished her studies after which, she decided to live here with me. The idea for the magazine first came to us while I was running a website and blog all about life in the Mediterranean and at the same time publishing a book. The healthier and happier way of life was much better than the one we left behind, and we wanted to share what we had found with as many people as possible.
Melisa: When doing our research in 2017, the term “Mediterranean Lifestyle” was virtually unheard of. There were only references to the Mediterranean Diet, and everything revolved around the nutritional aspects. This word didn’t convey the true meaning, nor did it carry the same weight as we know it today. We wanted to promote the total lifestyle and not just in part, and so, The Mediterranean Lifestyle was born. In the last 4 years, bloggers and influencers, nutritionists, cookbook writers, travel advisors, and simply everyone has picked up the term, and we’re happy and proud to see that the term is now on everyone’s lips worldwide.
SheFari: What is TML to you, and what can a reader expect to gain from it?
Elena: Our goal is to share and promote all the beautiful things concerning the Mediterranean way of life. Of course, the benefits of the world-famous Mediterranean Diet recently voted the best diet for the 4th year in a row, and the people and their stories. On the one hand, those who still live in the region and others who have since moved to the various corners of the world and still dearly hold on to their roots and continue to live and pass on their traditions. Authentic recipes have become a prevalent topic in which we invite all to share their treasured family recipes with us. The environment and preservation of the Mediterranean is also a critical topic for us and one that we feature regularly. Our readers can learn firsthand from our contributors all about the interesting and cultural places to visit. We also want to entertain our readers with the travel and photo stories that enable them to travel virtually from wherever they are.
SheFari: That’s a wonderful concept. My family has Mediterannean roots, and tradition was significant in our family growing up! You also outline the seven principles of the Mediterranean Lifestyle as ways to live happier. Which do you feel personally benefits you the most? Which is hardest to maintain?
Melisa: We drew up the “7 Principles of the Mediterranean Lifestyle” as essential key points for a healthy, happy, and long life. The Mediterranean lifestyle is the coming together of several factors that describe a way of life. This includes leisure time, social life, physical activity, nutrition, and productivity that meets our material and intellectual needs. For us, the healthy diet has been most beneficial to us, and over a short period of time, we have fully incorporated the diet into our daily lives with little or no effort. Olive oil, for example, is a daily basic ingredient in everything we cook, and the variety of fresh fruits and vegetables is so great that we love to try new recipes. Outdoor living and socializing have also certainly been hugely beneficial and enjoyable for us.Elena: The hardest to maintain is probably taking time to relax and switch off; this challenges us the most as there are always deadlines and work to be done. We hadn’t realized how important it is to take some time off and respect our own well-being. Here in Spain, we immediately experienced a slower pace of life. We have learned to experience things more consciously, take our time, and not complete all our tasks at once! Now, we’re almost as good as the locals!
SheFari: It definitely seems as though you are on to something because your publication has seen a major rise in interest since you started in 2018. Why do you think that is? What is some feedback from readers that has surprised you?
Melisa: Generally, there has been a huge surge of interest worldwide in the Mediterranean lifestyle. When we have so many options, and everything is just a few clicks away, we forget who and what is really important in life. It’s easy to lose our sense of value and tradition. With the ever-growing community that we have created, people worldwide can connect and learn from each other. To see that others have the same interests and share their experiences and knowledge in our magazine gives them a feeling of togetherness, like a family. It is a combination of sharing old experiences and wisdom with today’s advanced knowledge of medicine and technology.
SheFari: TML focuses a lot on the Mediterranean diet. Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine and let medicine be thy food.” How does the Mediterranean diet promote well-being, in your opinion, and what are some of your favorites?
Elena: We are what we eat; there is so much truth in this saying because food directly affects our body and health. Luckily, people are becoming more aware of their lifestyle and want to live longer, happier, and more healthily. Everyone used to take supplements to make up for the lack of vitamins and important nutrients. Now the trend is towards natural and healthy eating to avert these deficiencies from the outset. Nature offers a variety of food that has been anchored in medicine for thousands of years. It is up to us to rediscover this old knowledge and lay a good foundation for our future. Some of our favorites are olive oil, lots of garlic in almost everything we cook, and, of course, a well-deserved glass of red wine when we down tools in the evening.
SheFari: What are some Mediterranean rituals you do daily / incorporate in your routine that you didn’t do before?
SheFari: Where are your top three favorite hidden gems in the Mediterranean region and why?
Elena: There are countless hidden gems, and it is not easy to choose just three! Greece is our absolute favorite, and not just because we are of Greek descent ourselves. Crete is our favorite island, where breathtaking nature and dream beaches paired with thousands of years of history testify to the cultural richness, putting it at the top of our list.Melisa: Italy is right in second place. The history and the landscapes are simply unbeatable, and the food, in particular, has a bonus. We are most impressed by the island of Sardinia, known as the Caribbean of the Mediterranean, and the Arcipelago della Maddalena on the northwest coast. Our third favorite is the South of Spain. You can literally feel the great sense of history around Seville, Cordoba, and Granada. The temperatures, as well as the hot temperament and zest for life, are highest here. Although tourism is robust, you can still get to know the real authentic Spain and its people.
SheFari: How does your mother-daughter dynamic influence working together and your professional success? What are the pros and cons?
Elena: We have always had a close relationship, and therefore it’s not surprising that we work together on shared dreams and projects. We’re mother and daughter and best friends, which makes it a lot easier and more fun to work together. For a long time, we have wanted to work on something influential and meaningful. We both love to educate and advise, which is why we took our love for the Med and added the educational part. Within a few months of talking and planning at the table, TML took shape and was born.
SheFari: Yes! My business partner, Christina, and I are best friends, and we always have to remind ourselves to take a break from talking business to be friends! So something that comes up a lot in our industry is the health benefits of travel, and specifically for mother-daughter trips. A 2019 study at the Harvard Medical School showed that solid relationships and social connections have direct benefits on our physical and mental health. It’s not surprising that some of the highest life expectancies are found in the Mediterranean. What is your opinion on the social and family dynamic in this region, and what can the rest of the world learn from it?
Elena: The people of the Mediterranean have always lived as big families as a matter of course, whereby several generations, from grandparents to grandchildren, have all supported and helped each other under one roof. The elderly are an important part of a functioning family, and their knowledge is naturally passed on to the next generations, and thus, traditions and customs are preserved. Thanks to this coexistence, we have maintained many culinary and historical treasures to this day. Each family member has a function to run smoothly in the household, and everyone has a strong sense of purpose.Melisa: These tasks and the feeling of being needed and respected have a huge impact on physical and mental health. So it is not surprising that people who live in close and loving communities also live longer than those who are lonely. Loneliness is a scourge! Getting out for a coffee and a chat with neighbors or relatives is a huge part of life and strengthens social contacts. To meet others and take the time for a chat is essential for integration, and the people of the Mediterranean have understood and practiced this well over the years. It’s also important to spoil yourself now and then.
SheFari: Elena, tell me the one thing you most admire in your daughter and how she has helped you grow.
Elena: One of her outstanding qualities that I have always admired about Melisa is her tenacity and determination. Once she has caught fire for something, no mountains are too high, and she works consistently towards her goal. This strong will had given me new strength several times in life when I had weak moments, and she had to pull me up again.
SheFari: Melisa, tell me the one thing you most admire in your mother and how she has helped you grow.
Melisa: It’s impossible to describe the admiration I have for my mother in only one word, but let me start with her strength. Thanks to her courage and strength to move abroad, she has not only changed her life but also mine for the better, and I’m aware of it every single day. What I also admire in her is her compassion. She has raised my brother and me always to be kind and show empathy for others, and that’s what we both thankfully picked up from her. In tough times she is the one who can build me up immediately or spoil me with a good home-cooked meal. I’m just very proud to have her as my mother and fortunate at the same time to also have her as my work partner and improve the lives of others together, just like she did with mine.
The Mediterranean Lifestyle magazine is currently only available digitally but will soon be available for print. We’ll keep everyone posted because it’ll be an amazing coffee-table addition! Also, both our brands, SheFari and Myths + Muses, have the honor to be featured in next month’s issue. Check it out if you want to learn more about curated travel in the Mediterranean!
Interview conducted by Nektaria Panagiotari
Gifting experiences over things is on the rise, and with good reason. Mother-daughter trips are the perfect way to thank her and to bond in a whole new way, and the science supports it.
Each year as Mother’s Day approaches, we see the usual goods re-emerge on store shelves: mugs with “Best Mom Ever” in elegant script, heart-shaped jewelry in felt boxes, and endless pampering packages. But rather than taking a trip to the spa for a superficial “fix” this year, what about a trip…together! Check out our top benefits of mother-daughter trips below.
Let’s start with the obvious! When you’re not responsible for others – your significant others, siblings, children – something incredible happens. You get to do what you want! Sure, some compromise is involved if you have different interests, but you both can truly relax without worrying about what everyone else on the trip wants to do. As women, we’re natural caretakers. As much as we love everyone, it’s liberating to travel without having to consider others.
Mom, is that you?! Watch your mom let loose and dance without inhibition to a Flamenco guitar. Appreciate your daughter’s talent and eye for photography that you never really noticed before. When we travel and spend consistent time with someone, we may discover new things. Sharing new experiences leads to incredible and meaningful conversation and can add a new facet to your mother-daughter relationship.
Mothers – and any woman in 2021 – are often encircled in a daily routine of juggling tasks and roles. It seems that we are busier than ever, going through the motions day by day. Instead of worrying about what to make for dinner, swirl your fork in a plate of delectable pasta primavera. Instead of carpooling, take a ride around a Greek island in a 4×4. Mother-daughter trips are perfect for disconnecting and challenging our minds, which actually promotes brain health.
Studies have shown that travel actually reduces stress and improves happiness. But why? When traveling with someone you have a close bond with, you release good-feeling “caregiving” hormones. Reducing stress has been proven to help you return to your real life more resilient, ready to tackle challenges, and see things from a fresh perspective!
A mother-daughter bond is unbreakable, but that doesn’t mean your relationship shouldn’t be nurtured. Take a break from the everyday routine…and your phone (thank you, roaming fees!) You’ll find yourself talking more, sharing, and delighting in each other’s company. Build a deeper connection as you learn more about each other and share new experiences.
According to a Harvard study, traveling with someone you have a close relationship with can decrease the risk of heart disease, dementia, and depression. Mother-daughter trips included! Right along with these great health benefits are the fact that women with strong relationships actually live longer and reduce stress, which can harm us. So, in addition to having an amazing time, you could be actually promoting longevity, health, and happiness!
Traveling with mom can give you a chance to rediscover your identity and the things that inspire you. The safety we feel with our mothers allows us to connect to our inner child. It’s easy to lose ourselves in the day-to-day motions, so to be able to explore, create, and be careless allows us to grow.
There’s actual science behind “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” Taking a little break from your daily roles and the people you spend significant time with can actually improve your relationships. In addition to returning refreshed, a little time apart from your family, significant other, or friends can lead to a greater appreciation of one another and improved intimacy.
Have you ever wondered why so many writers and artists travel for inspiration, achieving some of their greats works in unknown places? Hemingway himself was a bit of a jet setter! It’s no coincidence, really. New sights, sounds, and smells all stimulate the creativity synapses in the brain, and traveling is a great way to achieve that. New experiences help open our minds to new possibilities.
Who we choose to spend our precious vacation time with sends a message. It can be a “thank you,” “you’re fun,” or simply a “you matter to me.” Prioritizing time with one another is the best gift you could ever give to a woman that will always love you more than anything.
Excited about mother-daughter trips, but planning sounds overwhelming? If you’re looking for safe and care-free options, explore some of our SheFaris! You and your mom can chase the Northern Lights with us in Iceland, indulge in Portugal, island-hop in Greece, or maybe take a stroll in the Valley of Kings with us in Egypt!
Whatever the destination or style, don’t let another year go by.
Yulia Denisyuk, award-winning travel journalist and photographer, weighs in on finding your voice, challenges facing females, and her unique company for writers.
SheFari: You’ve traveled the world as an award-winning photographer and journalist. What is the one place that most stirred your soul and why?
Yulia: Every destination I visit leaves a mark on me, because everywhere I go, I’m fortunate to meet incredible people that, in one way or another, expand my definition of what’s possible in the world. But if I had to choose, I’d say that the places that have impacted me the most are India, Turkey, and Jordan. Each of these countries has a culture of strong communities, and after living in the very individualistic western world for many years, I find myself drawn to community-driven cultures more than ever before.
SheFari: Absolutely, community lies at the heart of both our businesses. Tell us what Genius Womxn is all about and why you founded it.
Yulia: Genius Womxn is about empowering other womxn to go after their creative dreams. Too often, we’re held back – by our own beliefs, fears, doubts, insecurities, lack of support from others – and I want to live in the world where every womxn feels like she can do anything she puts her mind to. For the most part of my travel journalism career, I’ve been looking for a community of other brilliant womxn where we could uplift and support one another. I couldn’t find one, and so I created Genius Womxn as my answer to this void. We offer a travel journalism course, a membership for on-going support, a podcast where we interview amazing womxn creators in travel media and beyond, and a community that supports and celebrates womxn everywhere!
SheFari: What are the challenges and pitfalls that you think hold females back, and what do you think is important to teach them, specifically?
Yulia: For centuries now, womxn have been socialized to hold back. We’re being held to an impossible standard and at the same time, we’re never enough. We’ve also been taught to compete with other womxn and buy into the scarcity mindset. In our Genius Womxn community, we’re actively working on dismantling all the stereotypes and prejudices that many womxn have to deal with throughout their lives. Every single one of us is brilliant, and we all have a unique voice that deserves to be shared with the world. This is the main message of Genius Womxn that we aim to deliver through our platform and all of our efforts.
SheFari: What’s your advice to aspiring writers, journalists, and creatives?
Yulia: Take action. That is the most important thing. Many of us have dreams of becoming travel storytellers, of creative work, of pursuing something that lights up our fire. But for various reasons I mentioned above, many of us stop short of actually taking action. And yet, taking action is the only thing that will bridge the gap between where you currently are and where you want to be. It’s how we get better, it’s how we develop knowledge, it’s how we advance in this – and any – careers.
SheFari: We’re super excited to co-create a trip with you. Give us a preview; where will the trip participants be heading and what amazing things can we expect?
Yulia: We’ll be going to Jordan, one of the places that I now call home and that will for sure make you fall in love with this region. We’ll spend time floating in the Dead Sea, discovering the ancient city of Petra through lesser-known trails, and taking in the majesty of the incredible, star-filled Wadi Rum desert. It’s an unforgettable journey on which we’ll also grow as humans which is what travel, at its best, allows us to do.
Have that one friend who can’t stop spilling about their magical trip to Mykonos this summer? Or the sister who has a picture of Santorini’s cliffs on their vision board next to their travel fund jar? It’s not surprising that Greece is currently one the world’s hottest destinations. It’s been named the world’s safest destination, best beach, and overall best destination by various global authorities in 2019 alone.
In addition to its breathtaking landscape, part of the destination’s allure are the modern products popping up in hip boutiques in the local “agora”, crafted by incredible artisans. From the fashion scene to one-of-a-kind treasures to take home, Hellenic brands are making their mark.
Left: Hope Kauffman Photography, Right: Ames Bags
Ames, meaning “labyrinth” in ancient Minoan dialect, is the passion project of rising Athens-based designer Lia Manjorou. Much like some of the world’s most iconic signature patterned bags, Ames by Lia Manjorou has reinvented a classic Greek symbol into beautiful and high-quality fabrics in her cutting-edge line of accessories. With this unique Hellenic pattern translated into a chic textile, take a subtle piece of Greece everywhere you go. Each gorgeous bag is a designer piece to add to your collection. We’re especially fond of the Deos, the perfect bag for our travels.
How to wear it: With an airy blouse and denim shorts while boarding the ferry to an island, shopping the boutiques in Naoussa, Paros, or strolling chic Ermou Street in downtown Athens.
Photos: Sea You Soon
Greece is synonymous with stretches of pure sand and turquoise waters. For the sun-worshipper who can’t get enough of Vitamin Sea, look no further than Sea You Soon’s premium beach towels – created by two Greek brothers and inspired by cosmopolitan travelers and boho beach-goers. With natural textiles woven in Greece and Turkey, the bold-patterned towels double as a sand-resistant beach mat, sarong, or cover-up. Sea You Soon’s cool designs echo a Mediterranean aesthetic, a must-have accessory for those hot summers of island-hopping. We love the multi-functionality of the towels and their stylish design which are so on-point with the Greek aesthetic.
Where to take it: To the hip beach bars of Mykonos like Kahlua, Scorpion, or Ammos. Or, be adventures and bare it all on a private rocky beach on a remote island like Sifnos or Serifos.
Have you ever wondered what Greece smells like? Helessence Candles handcrafts candles with soy wax, essential oils, and fragrance inspired by the timeless beauty of the Greek natural landscape and influenced by scents of the Mediterranean. Forget overpowering flowery and musky perfumes – Helessence is all about unique blends with local scents that evoke emotion. We love the minimal elegance and sophistication of the Graecia Fuga, named for some of its hidden gems. Our personal favorite is Naxos, inspired by the island’s “wild landscapes, imposing waterfalls, magnificent sandy beaches, lush forests and famous Venetian monuments.” This is a fresh, seaweed candle with top notes of grapefruit and melon, a heart of hyacinth and figs sipping on a base of vetiver and musk. Yes please!
Where to Burn it: Did you know that smell may be the scent most closely linked to memory? This candle is perfect for the office when you’re scrolling through your pics of the vacation of a lifetime and reliving the memories. Inhale the aroma and it will take you right back!
When to Sip it: We can’t think of anything better than cozying up with a great novel, a freshly-brewed mug of Relax Gold Edition tea, and of course a Helessence candle burning. Why not try Nicholas Gage’s Eleni or his daughter, Eleni Gage’s incredible account.
Photo: Hope Kauffman photography
Swedish founder of globally-renowned brand DockATot, Lisa Furuland Kotsianis, has made the Athenian Riviera her forever home, and we can’t blame her. The creative designer behind the world’s leading baby lounger (which has amassed an international following) has recently launched her newest creative endeavor – Aristot, luxury furniture of elevated versatility that double as bassinets. DockATot has created a fashionable and useful sleeping mask, perfect for the weary or jet lagged traveler. When Kotsianis isn’t dreaming up new frontiers in the juvenile market, you can find her in her favorite getaway destination, Spetses. Needless to say, the country offers her endless inspiration, and we totally see why.
When to Wear it: If you’re hoping to arrive in Athens fresh and rested, the DockATot sleeping mask will help you get shut eye and land ready to enjoy the kefi. Opa!
Nearly two and a half thousand years ago, Hippocrates of Kos – the “Father of Medicine” – began to discover ways of improving one’s health. Wellness has long been a cornerstone of life for Greeks. Before the healthy benefits of honey and royal jelly were widely known as they are today, two pharmacists in Greece turned their passion for honeybees and herb extracts into a line of natural cosmetics. In 1972, the founders of Apivita, Nikos and Niki Koutsianas, were inspired by Hippocrates’ holistic approach to health, beauty and well-being, and knew they could bring incredible products from beekeepers to fruition. With an immense respect for the unique biodiversity of Greek nature, and especially the bee, they crafted a company to embody their values. They even named it in honor of the bee; derived from the Latin words Apis (bee) and Vita (life).
Many Greeks consider Apivita an essential beauty brand, and a best-kept secret. But the secret is out and the brand is growing its international reach as more and more people are experiencing it, from hair to skin products. We love this incredible face mask that restores and rejuvenates with all-natural ingredients.
When to Use it: Whenever you’re needing that fresh Greek glow!