Marianna Devetzoglou is an Olive Oil Sommelier and the founder of OLEOSOPHIA, a family business that produces mono-varietal Extra Virgin Olive Oil of the Manaki variety – a rare variety cultivated in only two areas of Greece. Marianna organises olive oil tours, olive oil tastings, workshops and seminars to share her knowledge of high quality olive oil; as the core of a healthy, Mediterranean based diet.
When asked why she pursued a career in the olive oil industry, the answer was straightforward: “Getting to know more about olive oil was a life changing experience for me, one that revealed the beauty of a natural product that holds within it a long history, tradition and of course, science! That multisided mystery spoke to me and it clicked. Having a scientific background and an entrepreneurial spirit, it was clear that I needed to make the most of my abilities and then build some more in order to create the value-added cluster I had in mind.”
Marianna studied Physics at the University of Athens and completed her postgraduate studies in London, before working in the industry and in EU research projects. However, she always felt the need to create something of her own and give back to her community. Despite being a city girl, she came to know olive oil through her husband, George, and it was an instant love! She appreciated the aromas and flavours of this natural product and understood the need for consumer and professional education alike. Pursuing in-depth knowledge, she became a certified Olive Oil Sommelier after completing her studies in London with the Olive Oil Times Education Lab and the International Culinary Centre of New York. She returned home with a mission: to share the Manaki variety with the world and to guide people towards a healthier lifestyle through the consumption of extra virgin olive oil.
Through OLEOSOPHIA, Marianna aims to make the family’s variety of Manaki Extra Virgin Olive Oil known across the globe, educate consumers about authentic extra virgin olive oil, its health benefits, the history behind it and of course, communicate the complexity of producing high quality extra virgin olive oil and its contribution to local communities.
In addition to being a producer, Marianna is an educator of olive oil and conducts olive oil tasting sessions, olive oil tours, farm to table workshops and olive oil communication to professional buyers and sales teams to help them better understand how to identify the positive attributes and defects of olive oil, as well as how to select, store and promote their olive oils.
Being in contact with both professional retailers and consumers, she knows how to explain olive oil in a simple, informative and interesting manner without the jargon. But the road is not paved with roses! As an entrepreneur, a producer and a woman, a number of challenges arise. “I enjoy every minute of being a business woman, despite the difficulties that pop up here and there. I love the fact that there are no limits to creativity, so long as you want to grow and generate value not just for yourself, but for your community and your environment. I see entrepreneurship as a multidimensional activity. It pushes you to evolve, to become better, to do better.”
Outside work hours, Marianna is involved in activities that promote women in entrepreneurship and the development of value-added projects in Greece and abroad. She aims to encourage more women to take up leadership roles and pursue their passion. After all, the way she sees it, “creating your own business is more about creating your own lifestyle and that, for me, is quality of life”.