We had the good fortune of connecting with Danielle and Eleni, we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Danielle and Eleni, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
Eleni and I are second-generation Americans, with parents born outside of the United States in Greece, Lebanon, and Panama. Our cultures are very similar, and we’ve thankfully grown up deeply in touch with our heritage. Over the years, we’ve spent a number of summers “back home” visiting family abroad – summers on the Mediterranean with loved ones were formative times for us. We’ve also always been entrepreneurial spirits, so starting Meli seemed like a great way to celebrate and honor our cultures, sharing them with our own modern twist on some favorite traditions.
What should our readers know about your business?
Meli is a Mediterranean lifestyle brand that takes beloved traditions and puts a modern twist to them. Our hope is to share the beautiful Mediterranean way of life with anyone that comes across Meli, whether that’s meeting us in person, experiencing a Meli pop-up, or wearing/using something we’ve created! With that comes a deep desire to work with the best quality materials and vendors possible. It’s taken a lot of trial and error, and we’re still figuring it out, but right now we take pride in our handmade, small-batch products. One of the most important things we’ve learned is to do research and ask for feedback – hearing from return customers and getting long-term reviews has given us a valuable understanding of what’s really speaking to people through Meli.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Ok, we LOVE this question. Bike rides on the bayou, hanging at St. Arnold’s, a visit to MFAH, and karaoke in Chinatown would be on the list. But most importantly, both of us are huge foodies – so this being Houston, we’d have a lot of places to hit…let this be a love letter to our favorite restaurants in Houston. We both agree that Local Foods, Ohn Korean Eatery, and Tiger Den would be on the list – here are some more near and dear to us! Danielle: Lebanese breakfast from Cedar’s Bakery for sure. Bánh mì from Alpha Bakery and Deli and Phở Bình by Night would be musts. And then Sharetea or Blkdog for a drink afterwards. Honestly, we’d be spending a lot of time on Bellaire. Eleni: I have so many favorites! Nancy’s Hustle has been my favorite lately, and Greek cafe Anonymous is a must. I’d have to take them to Agas Restaurant too. And then Milk + Sugar or Snowy Village for dessert!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
We absolutely have to thank our families for raising us with a deep appreciation of our cultural backgrounds. Preserving a love for our roots through food, community, music, and more while being away from your home country is thankfully easy to do in a place like Houston. Our family and friends have supported us in everything along the way and we couldn’t be more thankful!