It’s All Greek is a specialist in fine replicas of ancient Greek art and jewellery and they work exclusively with small, family run businesses (like their own). Their product range comes from a team of over fifteen companies: currently 12 in Greece and 5 in the UK. Nothing is mass-produced and with their shop located in Bloomsbury, London—opposite the east corner of the British Museum to be exact, it’s in a perfect location!
As a Grecophile myself, I came across them on Twitter and immediately fell in love with their philosophy:
Our aims are to nurture enthusiasm for the spirit and art of ancient Greece, to promote the excellent products of our suppliers and to provide our customers with the best possible quality and service.
Opening in 2000, It’s All Greek have supplied feature films such as Troy, Alexander and Clash of the Titans as well as their own shop featured in various media such as The Daily Telegraph and Elle Decoration.
I regularly visit London and this time, decided to go and visit Elinor Wynne Lloyed, founder and owner of It’s All Greek and have a chat with her and the team.
Your website is very extensive and shows us what can be purchased, as well as giving us background information about this lovely enterprise run by a collection of friends and family who come from a Classics background.
What was the final push in your compass to dedicate a shop to selling all things Greek?
During my sixteen years or so as a Classics teacher, I took a number of school trips to Greece, as I wanted the students to experience that magic of visiting the sites and to make the subject come alive. I found myself purchasing a number of bits and pieces to bring home to use in class and to have at home. Friends would often ask me to bring something back for them too, so I decided there might well be a market for this, albeit a very niche one.
How can It’s All Greek be seen to support the Greek economy?
Well, since 2000, I have built up a team of around fifteen suppliers in Greece. All small, family run businesses. It isn’t just a commercial benefit to them, although there has been a steady stream of income from us over the last years, but it is more of an endorsement and support for the amazing skills and talent that continue to flourish in Greece today, in the face of so much competition from elsewhere and the mass production of low quality items. My suppliers are supportive of me too, of course. It works both ways.
How did you become involved in supplying the film industry?
We’re going back a while, now…before I had a shop, so pre-2003, when my home was like a more cluttered ‘replica’ version of the Soane Museum! Someone rang from Pinewood [Studios in the UK] and asked if they could come over and have a chat. We supplied Alexander with a number of our very large hand-painted vases, two of each, as they were filming in two locations and needed to ensure that if there were a breakage, they would have a spare.
The props team for Troy found us after this, and therefafter others, the most recent being the first series of Atlantis, featuring our replica Minoan snake goddeses.
Your range is extensive (jewellery, busts, masks, tiles, pottery to name but a few).
Did you start small and gradually build up?
Our core collection is our bronzes, which come from the most amazing supplier in Greece. They also supply other items, but yes, incrementally there has been a development in the range we offer, especially since taking on the larger shop. I find it hard to resist stocking pieces I like…..I suppose that’s the Classicist/teacher in me!
What are your ‘best sellers’ at It’s All Greek, if any, and why?
It varies from week to week, but I would say that the bronze helmets have always been a bit of a winner, along with our Cycladic collection and silver jewellery. Lately our new terracotta collection of little boats and goats has proved popular too, so it’s hard to tell.
As well as supplying to larger industry, do you regularly ship to individuals abroad?
We don’t really supply larger industry…it was a one-off wonder, I think, the blockbuster movie era! Most of our business is to our extensive customer base in the UK and all over the world: lovers of things Greek, Classical scholars past, present and just beginning on their journey – and really, just people who understand the value of this wonderful, timeless civilisation.
Where do you see the future of It’s All Greek?
Difficult one at the moment, as I’m not sure we will be here in a year’s time, due to the possibility, imminently, of a prohibitive rent hike. I would like to stay for another three years until my lease runs out, but if I can’t afford the rent, so be it. So, very unsure…and sad about it.
It is sad to hear that as my visit to It’s All Greek and meeting Elinor in person showed me what a passionate person she is about her subject. In fact, taken from her Biography, you can see her just how young she was when she fell in love with Greece:
In 1972, a 12 year-old presented to her history teacher a south-west corner of the Parthenon. Fashioned and painted with loving care, it was mediocre yet meticulous. This was to be the first love affair of the country for Elinor.
Of her shop, Elinor says:
The morning light on a Cycladic figurine or the brooding shadows of a replica bronze helmet take my breath away. A cheeky terracotta turtle – a replica of a child’s toy from Heraklion– makes me smile. The cast of characters at It’s All Greek is alive, each with its own story to tell.
And her thoughts on Greece?
I envy the customers who say they have not yet been to Greece. I envy them the anticipation and that first visit on a journey. Similar to a homecoming.
I seem to have found someone similarly in love with the country – someone who ‘gets’ it.
Thanks Elinor! And I hope It’s All Greek continues, whether online or moving premises.