I am always interested in how young creative people start up businesses. It’s not easy, and especially for some of us, the business side is quite daunting. A friend of mine in Barcelona, recently launched a website called Be-Athens. It’s an events guide magazine for the city of Athens, where she is originally from. Partly in an effort to reconnect with her home, and partly as business venture, Be-Athens now employs a number of writers, photographers and artists, and reaches a large number of subscribers. Mikela Xydi answers some questions for me about how to promote yourself online, as well as what she would look for when hiring an illustrator. The website Be-Athens is written in Greek, however you can translate it with the help of google. Mikela is also an avid photographer, and her style is evident in the design of the website. If you are heading to Athens in the future, don’t forget to check out what’s on, by visiting Mikela’s website!
Tell us a little bit about who you are?
Hello! My name is Mikela or Michaela for the family (Greeks love large names) and I am originally from Athens, Greece! Since I was really young, I looked forward to escaping from the ordinary, to travelling , and to meeting different people. I always had a tendency to reach deeper, to experiment with unusual things, so as to understand myself and discover my feelings! I am a person who loves creativity, surrealism, clever phrases, new cultures, and beauty!
Generally, I travel as much as I can but I never forget about my country, my city, my Athens! It’s a great place to live, even with the political and economic upheaval. It is a city with a large variety of cultural activities, underground movement and no time restrictions! All day all night…
However, my desire to explore foreign environments, pushed me to look for study courses outside Greece. I went to Manchester, where I finished business studies and marketing! While living in England I came up with the idea of doing my masters in a warm and friendly city…in Barcelona! I have been here for 3 and a half years now, and completed my masters in Creativity, Communications and Advertisement! It couldn’t be better choice for me. Barcelona will always be part of my heart! I’m not sure what my next step will be but I know that if nature blesses me with good health and heart, I can do and be whatever I want!
You created BE Athens, explain your vision.
Be-Athens’ story is complicated. In the beginning it was a dream, then an excuse to be close to life in Athens, even if I lived far away! Then it became a solution to my plans…Now it is reality and in the future I hope it to be a necessity to the people who are using it! But it is more than this…
Be-Athens is an alternative Athenian activity filter. A source of information about upcoming events. You sign up to receive updates on Art, Music, Education, Fashion, Outdoor activities, Theatre, Cinema. Each event has been carefully selected to make your week special and interesting!
I saw a gap in the market for something simple, juicy, compact and fresh! This is Be-Athens, we select the cream of events, with an eye for different, interesting events. Keeping in mind the economic situation of Greece right now, our focus is on providing information on cheap, cool and ongoing events that everyone can attend! However, Be-Athens is not for everyone. We have a unique viewpoint, we are original, we write original content, we dislike copying and using the same information as everyone else! We also provide a specific concept every week! A Concept article, a Highlight article and an Interview are all mutually connected with one purpose! We want to provide a platform to awaken, inform and motivate our Athenian audience! It is not only about visibility and entertainment! We want to become a necessity, and an important tool for our audience to use for an interesting, connected lifestyle in Athens. This is what I believe will complete my vision for Be-Athens.
If you were hiring a creative, be they a graphic designer or illustrator, what qualities would you look for?
Concepts based on originality and at the same time on real facts are important for us. We look for art that is fresh, that appeals to our target market. In that way every artist, illustrator or graphic designer simply should be able to visit Be-Athens and design with those qualities in mind. Our background for the website has been created to look like a desk, all our content comes in the form of a note or doodle, as if it is a post-it reminding you to do something or visit somewhere. We like eye catching works or work that fits with the scratchy doodlesque style of the webpage. If you create in this way, using your own style of art then, yes, you would be the perfect creative for Be Athens!
Do you have any advice for young creatives, or people who are interested in starting their own online business?
Ufff! It took me more than a year to finish the design and structure of Be Athens! The Web master was building while I was changing my ideas! It was the same story all over to get the final result! So if you don’t try (and try again) you won´t succeed!
Then it is all about internet. People starting a new business should absolutely consider Google terms, which means, SEO on page and off page, Meta keywords and meta tags correctly chosen and applied, original text in order to avoid Google’s penalties! Also it is important to mention, nowadays, the use of Social Media Marketing like Facebook, Twitter and so much more! Basic entries and communication comes from the SMM and increase traffic and visits to the site! Before starting the site which is actually built on the WordPress platform, I studied so much and had ask everyone who knew more than me on the subject of digital marketing!
The creator, above all should close their eyes and imagine, feel, see how the layout of his website will be! Inspiration and personal element are what will make the difference and will make it unique!
Top 5 places in Barcelona?
Iguapop, Encants, oviso, Sala apolo and all the parks full of happy and pleasant people!