In our Member Spotlight series, we have the privilege of getting to know the incredible individuals who make up the Canadian Women’s Chamber of Commerce. Today, we’re delighted to introduce you to Maria Vassiliou, a dynamic entrepreneur with a unique and inspiring journey. We sat down with Maria to learn more about her business, motivations, and advice for aspiring entrepreneurs.
Hi Maria, please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Certainly! I consider myself a bit of a multipotentialite or a Renaissance woman, depending on the day. I wear many hats, but the one I’m most proud of is being the founder of Philotimo Life I’m an entrepreneur in the field of death and grief literacy. My work involves providing corporate training to individuals, leaders, and organizations, equipping them with the skills needed to navigate challenging conversations around death and grief. I believe these discussions are crucial, and I want to ensure we take care of each other both inside and outside of work. Additionally, I incorporate diversity and inclusion into this work because how grief is experienced and managed can vary significantly across different communities.
What inspired you to start your business?
My journey traces back to a deeply personal experience. My mother passed away when I was just two years old, and as I grew up, I realized I was navigating grief differently from my peers. Years later, in 2020, I noticed a significant gap in our society when it came to discussing and understanding death and grief. There were no resources that resonated with a younger audience. That’s when I decided to take it upon myself to fill this gap and create a platform for meaningful conversations.
How did you fund your business?
My business is entirely bootstrapped, and I’m proud to say it’s self-funded.
What challenges have you faced on your entrepreneurial journey?
One significant challenge has been meeting people where they are in terms of their willingness to engage in conversations about death and grief. Some are avoidant and hesitant, while others are eager to learn. Balancing these different attitudes and approaches has been a bit challenging.
How do you envision the future growth of your business?
I would love to expand my workshops, training sessions, and coaching to more organizations and businesses. My main goal is to make these resources accessible and commonplace, creating a culture of empathy and support. There are also other exciting avenues I want to explore in the coming years.
What keeps you motivated during the tough times of entrepreneurship?
My motivation stems from my loved ones and my artistic practice. Pouring my emotions into art or connecting with loved ones helps me stay grounded and inspired. I encourage others to find something that brings them healing and joy during challenging times, whether it’s art, sports, or nature walks.
What advice would you offer to those looking to follow a similar path?
I have a few pieces of advice. First, connect with as many people as possible in a meaningful way that makes them feel seen and appreciated. These connections can lead to unexpected opportunities. Second, listen to your gut and be open to possibilities before saying no. Lastly, don’t close yourself off to opportunities – give them thoughtful consideration before making a decision.
What led you to join the Canadian Women’s Chamber of Commerce?
I joined the Canadian Women’s Chamber of Commerce because one of my mentors is involved with the organization, and she encouraged me to check it out. I also saw some incredible women joining, and I wanted to be part of this supportive community.
Can you share your areas of expertise and how people can reach out to you?
You can reach out to me for corporate group trainings, coaching, workshops, as well as podcasting and digital marketing-related inquiries. You can find more information about us on our website, Philotimo Life and on our social media platforms. I’m also on LinkedIn, so feel free to connect with me personally.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Connect with Maria Vassiliou