Co-founded by a Greek-American, Tolmee supports Greek artisans and businesses and brings their unique works to the U.S. Learn more!
Tolmee: Be bold
Their website says:
Tolmee is bold. Our Greek artists’ designs and fearless pursuit of their craft fuel our passion and commitment. Join us in exploring some of what Greece’s artisans have to offer.
Tolmee is the Greek word for boldness, courage, daring, and the willingness to take risks It’s also the perfect name for this Boston-based company, co-founded by Greek-American Christos Gerontidis and Lisa Groeneveld. Friends since college, they both share a love of Greece and the talented artists creating beautiful things, that often the world doesn’t get to see. The wheels began turning two years ago, when Christos was in Greece.
“I looked around in the shops and saw all these amazing products. I wondered, why don’t they sell in the States? They’d do so well. I met smart, talented, amazing artists creating gorgeous things, and I wanted to try to do something to help them. I thought, let’s bring their products here to U.S. and introduce them to this market, and give them another platform to grow their business.”
When he returned he spoke to Lisa about it; she loved the idea.
“For the better part of a year, we sought the best way to do it. We started working on it less than a year ago. That’s when we got in contact with the artists and began selecting products.”
The friends wanted to support the artists in a different way. Now older and with some financial security, they could provide practical support to the artists that they’d not otherwise receive. Most in their 20s, the artists are pursuing their passion part-time as they struggle during difficult times in Greece. They don’t have the financial means to take a chance and ship products here and merely hope to get paid. Enter Tolmee.
How it works
Tolmee carefully curates a selection of artists. They scour websites, social media, and news to discover them. If they like the products, they reach out to gauge their interest. Sometimes they get a response, and other times no — possibly because to a likely unknown artist in a small country it seems too good to be true. But this opportunity is real, and many artists are already signed onto the program.
“We cushion the financial risk, so they can do their art. We give our partners the ability to break into this market, one that for some was previously out of reach.”
When a fit and a desire to work together is identified, Tolmee determines what products the artists are able to provide. Many of the items are one-of-a-kind. Then, they’ll determine quantities and styles. Tolmee organizes the shipment, pays fees, and handles all the paperwork. Once on contract, Tolmee will purchase goods upfront, and promote them via their website, here in the U.S. Orders ship direct from Boston.
Lisa spoke about the artists.
“As much as we can, we try to represent the products as the artists envision them. We’re so impressed by them. They have great business acumen, and they speak English well. They are grateful for what we do, and they are encouraged. It gave me the sense that we made the right decision in doing this.”
Co-founders Lisa Groeneveld and Christos Gerontidis of Tolmee. IMAGE: TOLMEE.COM
Bringing a piece of today’s Greece to you
The items on the Tolmee website are unique and very cool. They’re certainly not something you’ll see in your local stores. The current mix includes eight artisans, featuring kids’ games, accessories, décor, jewelry, prints & stationary, and more. The products may evoke nostalgia or just provide a distinctive gift idea. Tolmee brings a bit of Greece to you, through the creative, bold, and inspiring works of some of today’s most talented Greek artisans. When you purchase, you get a great gift and you get to help someone in Greece. Check it out!
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