Mia is a perfect example of a young, beautiful, smart and inspiring woman. Having spent the earlier years of her career working on global scale architectural projects across Europe, she found her calling in combining her two greatest passions — architecture and art. Athens born and raised, Mia decided to rekindle the local craftsmanship of producing high-quality, unique silk scarves, and that’s how her brand CURARCHITECT by Mia Papa was born. Mia and I met completely by chance at the VOGUE Change Makers event held in Athens. But I believe that no meeting ever happens by chance, as we are destined to cross paths with some people in our lives. I strongly support women entrepreneurs and those who showcase their country’s traditions and culture in a positive way. Greece is close to my heart, and anything made in Greece with love is definitely worth sharing. Read my interview with Mia and hope that her story will inspire you to pursue your passions.
It’s an ode to a woman who used her knowledge, wisdom and power to trick the master of Gods, for a greater cause for the humanity, by making him the wisest ruler and the father of Athena.
ES: You have taken a step back to create something which is deeply rooted into the Greek culture. How did you know that Soufli was the place that you wanted to be associated with your brand?
MP: When the brand name Mia Papa was founded, the philosophy behind it came somehow very natural to me. Being born and raised in Athens, combined with international education and many years of living and working abroad, I consider myself a citizen of the world with a Greek soul. Therefore, I aspired to create a brand which would reflect the Greek heritage, craftsmanship, tradition and culture, through a fresh, innovative and bold international perspective. After long research, Soufli, proved to be the right location to base my production in one of the last remaining silk factories in the area, specialising in digital printing. In this small northern Greek town, where silk is grown from natural silkworm cocoons since antiquity, I decided to take a step back and create something unique, which takes time and effort to be produced. All products are being gently twill-woven, printed, cut, washed and ironed and then sewed traditionally by hand by local seamstresses.
ES: I have seen you mention the butterfly effect, please tell us more about what this means to you?
MP: I always believed that a small and apparently insignificant action or fact can lead to a major development in our lives. This has proven to me endless times in life and I even enjoy trailing back to the past, trying to spot this initial small action which led to bigger moments.
ES: Do you believe in Serendipity?
MP: Similar to the butterfly effect, serendipity or the occurrence and development of events in a happy way, is deeply rooted to my life and the story behind my brand. As an example, couple of years ago, I was working as a lead architect in Berlin, but I was trying to find ways, parallel to my long hours work, to combine my two great loves – architecture and art in my own way. Following a serious accident, I had to abstain from work for quite some time, spending hours creating handmade paper collages, as a relief to the painful situation I was in. To preserve the endless collages, I started silk screen-printing them on cotton paper and then naturally transforming them into actual silk. And thats how the brand name Mia Papa was born.
ES: Your favourite place to travel in Greece and why?
MP: For many years now, the island of Syros has won my heart with its historical and cultural significance, beautiful neoclassical architecture, rich tastes, sounds and views.
ES: Which is your favorite Greek myth and what it means to you.
MP: In the spirit of transformation and metamorphosis, my favourite Greek myth is the one of Zeus & Metis. Metis, an Oceanid, known for her handicraft qualities, appreciation of the ideal in arts & crafts, wisdom and deep thought, was seduced by Zeus, who tricked her after having slept together, transforming her into a fly, feared the prophecy that her son would overrule him. But Metis was the one who did the tricking, by deliberately allowing and provoking Zeus to consume her, in order to be his forever wise councillor, whispering advices to him with her calm and enlightening voice. That was Metis destiny, to willingly sacrifice herself in order to serve both her duty and her love. Aside the fact that the Goddess Athena was born from this intercourse, inheriting her mother’s Metis special qualities, I love this myth because its a manifestation of all the powerful, strong and at the same time soft and sensitive qualities of a woman. It’s an ode to a woman who used her knowledge, wisdom and power to trick the master of Gods, for a greater cause for the humanity, by making him the wisest ruler and the father of Athena.
ES: What are some of the challenges that you face being a woman entrepreneur and how do you stay motivated?
MP: It is true that women entrepreneurs face more challenges than men in the same industries. We have to deal with not only being successful in our field, but also perform well on all the other roles of our lives, such as, mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend. I face all the above challenges, especially as a young entrepreneur and young mother.
What gives me great strength and motivation is my family and my supporting husband, who always believe in me and trying to lift me up when things get dark. I am also very thankful to all the super-women around me, like my sister and my close girlfriends, who show me the way. I believe women are blessed with great power, willingness and courage and when we deeply believe in our goals and dreams, we can achieve anything, no matter the challenges in our way.
ES: You have a strong background in architecture, having worked on some remarkable international projects. What is the best lesson that you have learned from your career so far.
MP: Having worked in a variety of big-scale international projects, starting as a junior architect to gradually reach the position of the lead architect, among many important technical, practical, managerial and social skills I’ve gained, there is one lesson I consider the greatest of all. No matter where you stand in a company’s hierarchy, no matter whether you are the boss or the trainee, you need to respect and trust your partners, encourage them and communicate with them all the information and knowledge you have, in order to achieve the best possible outcome. You can learn from everyone.
ES: Where do you get your inspiration from?
MP: The stimulations can be many and unexpected. Through literature, historical, psychological and architectural readings, cinema, magazines and newspapers, social media, conversations with friends and my family and traveling among others. All this information, raises subconsciously many questions and suddenly an idea is born.
It is also very important, to stay up-to-dated with the ongoing developments in the world and its needs, trying to find meaningful ways to respond.
You can see and shop Mia’s designs here: https://www.miapapa.com/
Cover photo credit: Kinthia Kindeli