Rhoeco is a word formation inspired by the Greek word ‘ροή’ [rhoē] -meaning flow-, ecology [eco] and cooperation [co]. Rhoeco is the result of an effort to produce in the present by respecting the past while thinking about the future. A team of young professionals, ecology enthusiasts and herb lovers, who research, experiment, analyse and finally find decent and experienced producers to become their suppliers.
How and why did you start Rhoeco?
We studied at the Agriculture department of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and carried on together for post-graduate studies in Organic Farming / Food Production / Ecosystem Services.
We always had an eye on interesting case studies and wanted to create something innovative, green and eco-friendly. Herbs were our thing, we had the know-how and our goal was to export them abroad as a premium product. After a year of research and plans, Rhoeco came to life.
What is the inspiration behind it?
It’s something we already knew about, we liked and of course used to drink and still do. We just realised that it was something that was missing from the market, it came out naturally as an idea.
What is the production process?
For the past 4 years we have been in constant collaboration with particular organic herb growers from all over Greece. The process starts from our laboratory, where the herb selection begins. This is the most important part, as our priority is to meet the standards we set for the quality of each herb.
We talk about an 100% natural product, which comes straight from the field, gets dried and is stored in our warehouse. All processes from the sorting of the herbs, the sieving, the creation of the blends to the packaging are made by hand allowing us to have full control of each step of production.
We conceived the whole concept long before we formed the company and when we were ready, our graphic designers (we design) made an excellent work so as to adapt all the information in one package.
What makes your herbs different?
They are sourced from small holder organic family farms and are grown with love and care under eco-friendly practices resulting to the finest quality herbs. We have chosen not to crush our herbs and put them in a tea-bag as dust, but keep some parts whole or slightly sliced, as untouched as possible.
We like not to “bother” the herbs with much of processing.
What are your feelings about the herbs “ritual”?
For us it’s that exceptional moment when you sit down, relax and enjoy the smell of pouring hot water into fresh herbs. We call it “slow living”.
It’s like a little pause in fast life.
Exactly. We like to drink something that we totally understand, it works as a parenthesis in everyday life, a few essential minutes just for you and your loved ones.
Greek land. What makes it different?
It’s all about the microclimate and special conditions occurring in certain regions.
The taste and the oils of some herbs are different from place to place. For example, we get our dictamnus from Crete and even if it could grow in another place in Greece, it wouldn’t be the same.
Eco-friendly, reusable packaging. What was the idea behind it?
We wanted to give the product a second life, not just to create a nice package. The goal was to start a dialogue with our costumer on how to reuse it.
The idea was to apply the circular economy model. The package is made of paper and corn. At first, it works as the container for your tea, it then becomes a flower pot with organic herbs. It carries an educational character, because you can see how you grow what you actually drink, you grow your own plant. That’s the definition of zero-waste.
We thought of naming our blends by different ecosystems that best describe their properties. For example, “Sea” is the one made of a relaxing herbal mix, which helps you to calm down. “Urban” on the other side, contains among others “the herb of courage”, thyme, so it helps you cope with the challenging rhythms of everyday life.
A Rhoeco herbal tea blend is a good gift, because it stays in your kitchen for a long time and every time you see or taste it, you remember the person who bought it for you. How do people react when they receive your products?
It’s such a pleasure. Recently, someone from Korea sent us a picture of a mallow, growing in a huge apartment building. He bought it during vacations in Greece and cultivated it.
Τhe people who drink it are our reward.
These spontaneous reactions, that’s all that inspires us to continue. Our dream is to pass the herb culture abroad, which is very different from the tea culture that people are used to.
We once thought it was a little tricky to start your own business with organic products. Now things have changed, habits are starting to change too. How do you perceive it? Why do we increasingly focus on quality products?
We started this business, because we wanted to define the context in which we would work, to give ourselves a quality of life, to be proud of what we do. It may sound a bit romantic but it has a risk worth taking.
We never wondered if we would do organic products, it was one way. Nowadays there is a lot of information that didn’t exist before. It was about time. The previous generations had focused elsewhere, and there came a point, where “we pulled the brake” and said something had to change.
And it had to start from within us in order to help both ourselves and the environment.
Ιs this the perfect space for Rhoeco?
We did a lot of research and this was an ideal place from day one. As we get bigger it becomes a little difficult for us to stock up here. We are not related to the area, we just wanted to find a place that would make us feel good and it has all the peace we were searching for.
The moment we saw it, we immediately imagined ourselves working here.
How much time do you spend here everyday?
10 -11 hours. We rest, eat, discuss; we actually live here.
What are your future hopes and what is coming next?
We hope to continue with the business, going up and up, cause it’s a great blessing to do this here all together. We wake up in the morning and go to work happy every single day.
Our e-shop is almost ready. We are testing a new line of blends, herbs with fruits and spices that will be married in order to create something really special. Stay tuned!
Interview: Christina Dimitriou
Images © Aris Rammos Studio