Olive oil has been a central part of the Kasandrinos family for generations. Kasandrinos babies are even baptized with olive oil from their family’s land. In Greece, it’s customary to grow and press your own olive oil for family and friends.
So, even after moving to the U.S., the Kasandrinos family made sure to bring enough olive oil to enjoy until the next trip back to our family home in Niata, Greece. It was so much a part of their lives that they never realized most people in the U.S. have been drizzling stale olive oil on their food for decades.
The Kasandrinos Story…
The Kasandrinos love language is always food and quality time. So, when co-founder Tony Kasandrinos would move to a new city, he would always bring his family’s olive oil along with him. And, Tony moved a lot in his 22-year career as an active-duty Marine. Back in 2012, he started gifting bottles to friends at a local CrossFit gym, and they were hooked. Everyone agreed: you couldn’t find olive oil like this in the United States. At the same time, Tony realized just how many olive oil brands were cut with other oils or made from poor-quality olives. With the encouragement of friends and family, Tony and his sister Effi decided to bring a little bit of Greece over to America, and Kasandrinos was formed.
The Kasandrinos family believes that you deserve incredible olive oil. Oil from olives soaked in the Grecian sun for months and picked by hand with care. Oil from organic, non-GMO olives, pressed in small batches for taste and freshness – not for mass production. For them, olive oil isn’t just a heart-healthy kitchen essential. Every bottle of Kasandrinos olive oil is a piece of their homeland, made with economic stability, environmental sustainability, and with your best health in mind.
Getting to know their background with co-founder Tony Kasandrinos…
1/ What inspired you to start your business? What was the Eureka moment that compelled you to take action?
So I had been sharing our family olive oil with friends. I was on active duty in the Marines at the time and I got stationed in Texas. All my friends from back in Philadelphia kept asking me if they could order olive oil from me. That was the moment I realized I might be onto something.
2/ How are you working to differentiate yourself from other similar products in the market?
We looked at the market and found the biggest problem finding quality olive oil in America was the age, due to the distribution process. There’s a lot of great olive oils on store shelves but most are well over a year old. We decided to go the direct to consumer route and have been doing online sales for over 10 years now.
3/ What are some of the biggest challenges you faced during the early stages of your business, and how did you overcome them?
Time. I was on active duty in the Marine Corps and my business partner/sister Effi had a full time career. For the first few years of our side hustle, I was deploying around the globe and Effi had 3 kids in the span of 6 years.
4/ Can you share a specific example of a difficult decision you had to make as a leader and how it impacted your business?
We made a conscious decision not to sell our products in stores. Sure, it could have been a quick way to make some cash, but we knew it would compromise the very thing that sets our brand apart from all the rest.
5/ How do you foster a culture of innovation and continuous learning within your organization, and how has it contributed to your growth and success?
I surround myself with people who have knowledge that I do not. There is no reason to try and reinvent the wheel.
6/ How do you stay ahead of the competition and adapt to changing market conditions?
Can you share any strategies or initiatives that have helped your business stay agile and resilient? We look at our entire marketing and business model regularly and stay agile and open to change. Specifically in the form of new commerce technologies (things like AI, payment methods, marketing avenues)
7/ Tell us about a specific challenge or obstacle you faced while building your business and how you overcame it. What valuable lesson(s) did you learn from that experience?
Having a small team and wearing multiple hats. I think most entrepreneurs deal with this in the beginning. It’s not something I learned as much as reaffirmed that sometimes it’s best to get your hands dirty and do things yourself.
8/ What unique strategies or approaches have you implemented to differentiate your business and stand out from the crowd?
Selling online. We entered the online food space when it was NOT the norm. Back in 2011, very few food companies sold on the internet. There are a bunch of challenges that come with it, especially in fulfillment and shipping. Fast forward to 2019, we were perfectly positioned while many companies were playing catch up.
9/ Can you share an instance where you had to pivot your business model or change your strategy significantly?
What were the reasons behind the decision, and how did it impact your overall growth? This year actually we decided to bring fulfillment in house moving into our own warehouse. We always outsourced this part of our business but going back to doing things on your own. No one will care about your business (and packaging) the way you will. When your mailing glass and liquid…that matters.
10/ What are some KPIs you mainly focus on to measure the success and progress of your business? How do you ensure you stay on track towards achieving your goals?
Money in the bank (profit). It is a key metric many do not focus on. We focus on this more than any other number and do so by doing weekly financial meetings.
11/ How do you prioritize and manage the various challenges and demands of running your business while maintaining a healthy work-life balance? What strategies or practices do you follow to prevent burnout?
I have very set routines, especially in the morning and very set work hours. I prioritize Personal health above all else. You can grow a business to whatever you want, but if you don’t have your health, it’s all worthless.
12/ What question(s) is no one asking you that they should be asking? Feel free to share them with answers here…
Why do you do what you do? The human connections and making a positive impact.
Want better olive oil? Consider Kasandrinos…
Kasandrinos olive oil is trusted by people all across the country because they treat olives as what they are —fruit. Rather than picking them when they’re black and rotten, they go and gather them at their freshest, hand-picking them right off the tree. It’s the Kasandrinos way of sharing the way olive oil is supposed to taste. Try it for yourself and you may quickly realize you’ll most likely never opt for another olive oil ever again…