THE ARTISAN FOUNDER

011. Hand of Fatima

THE ARTISAN FOUNDER
A story of triumph, transformation and a touch of Mediterranean magic.

Fatima’s journey from health hurdles to culinary discoveries paints a picture of life’s lemons turned into zesty lemonade (or should we say, olive oil?).

Her tale is a heart-warming blend of culture, cuisine, and the cuddles of motherhood, seasoned with the sunny smiles of Greece and the nurturing spirit of her family’s legacy.

This is the story of Hand of Fatima Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Where the story started

From a young age I have struggled with health complications, particularly related to my gut.

Despite numerous diagnoses and treatments, nothing seemed to provide significant relief. As a result, I learned to live with these challenges, integrating them into my daily life.

However, eight years ago, I underwent a complex surgery that completely changed my diet, lifestyle, and relationship with food.

During my recovery, I decided to take a break and explore the sunny Greek islands. Little did I know that this trip would be transformative and lead me to where I am today.

Throughout my time in Greece, I gradually began feeling better, experiencing improved energy levels and overall happiness.

It was during this journey that I discovered the Mediterranean diet, particularly the central role of olive oil, which significantly contributed to my wellbeing.

The realisation sparked my five year journey to create something meaningful. I wanted to develop a product that would reflect my identity, background and story, but also be testament to who I aspire to become.

Little did I know that this trip would be transformative

The Team

In the UK my team is just myself and my little tot.

I manage socials, the warehouse, orders, accounts, meetings, supply, basically everything to get the business promoted and up and running in the UK, and worldwide.

However, I have wonderful partners, who are not just friends, but they are also my family in Crete.

They are Irini who supports in logistical and commercial work, Alexandra who is the technical master that would ensure all product standards are met, and last but not least, Ioannis, who is in the mill day in day out checking every olive and tasting every batch.

They are my backbone, I could not be where I am today without them. I am indebted to them for life, and I occasionally feel like, this is not just for my son, this is also for them, because they are part of Hand of Fatima’s family.

Small helping hands

I am a full time mother to a three year old tot.

The privilege I have is, that I do not clock in or out, I work at my own pace and at my own time. My work evolves around my little one’s schedule. Hence, I am either on my laptop or socials, late evenings when he is asleep, or in the afternoons during his nap.

Otherwise, he is much involved in Hand of Fatima. When I am at the warehouse he is present, and very sweetly helps, by carrying one bottle at a time.

When creating recipes he’s there tasting and playing around, he is noticeable in some of the reels, either cheekily dipping a finger or fork.

When anything urgent comes up, I do it while taking a walk with him or if he’s playing in the park. I must admit there is not much “me time”, but him being there next me constantly, genuinely drives me to do better. Watching him, and seeing him grow makes me think more ethically, responsibly and sustainably, because that is the world I want him to grow up knowing.

He is my driving force and motivation. His love guides every decision I make, I cannot imagine navigating this project without him at the centre of everything.

I must admit I am somewhat of an introvert. If I have a spare moment, I like prefer to spend it alone. I tend to have calm moments in the morning or afternoons for 15 minutes, where I unwind with a cup of coffee and read a book. I love reading it’s my therapy. It floats me away from reality for a bit, and helps me feel reenergised when I close that last read page, and back into the real world.

I also am very fortunate to have a beautiful view of Canterbury Cathedral. There is something very magical about it. My son and I often sit during sun set at the terrace and just enjoy the breeze and listen to the evening bells chime, it’s peaceful and refreshing.

Family & Community

Growing up, my family emphasized the importance of community, a value that was instilled in me through my mother’s guidance.

My grandmother and mother always brought our family together, especially during meal times. I have fond memories of gatherings with around 15 people, filled with delicious food, laughter, and love. This sense of community is deeply ingrained in my upbringing. Growing up, my family emphasized the importance of community, a value that was instilled in me through my mother’s guidance.

My grandmother and mother always brought our family together, especially during meal times. I have fond memories of gatherings with around 15 people, filled with delicious food, laughter, and love.

During my research in Greece, I noticed that Mediterranean communities share a similar principle, valuing family and collective bonds. Through my interactions with locals, I made a dear friend named Irini. Our relationship grew to the point where she became like family to me. This reinforced the significance of community in Mediterranean cultures.

The Hand of Fatima symbol holds great importance in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cultures, representing good fortune, blessings, protection, and good health. This symbol is commonly found in homes, including baby cribs, main rooms, kitchens, and doorways.

 

Living a simple content life, with minimum possessions

When deciding on a name for my brand, I received a gift from a hotel owner in Crete—a silver necklace featuring the Hand of Fatima symbol. Inspired by this gesture and wanting to make my mother proud, I chose to name the brand after the symbol, which interestingly is my given name.

The blue, white, and brown shades of our bottles pay homage to Greece and the Venetian and Ottoman influences on Crete. Additionally, the geometric pattern of the symbol represents my proud Middle Eastern heritage.

My most memorable moments are those spent with my mother. As the eldest of five, I used to feel that I was missing out on my childhood as I was always with her. But as I gradually matured, became an adult, and now a mother I have realised and appreciate every moment spent with her, she has been a significant influence on my journey as an entrepreneur.

Her strength, is admirable, her ability to balance work, raising five children and caring for her family, all while being loved and admired by everyone she encountered. I recognised her unwavering faith, her radiant smile, and her determination to overcome any challenge with the motto “where there is a will, there is a way.” She is instrumental in shaping who I am today and every memorable moment I have spent with her.

The challenges

I will never forget the challenge Brexit did in launching the business, it set us back two years as the whole process of logistics changed between EU and the UK and the regulations were never clear.

A rule would come up or change every single day and I remember reaching a stage of almost giving up on the whole project.

But eventually we got there, by settling to register the business in the UK and remove any association with Greece other than of course production.

Leading by example

At Hand of Fatima, we are committed to leading by example in the food industry by promoting sustainability and environmental consciousness. Our dedication to using sustainable and recyclable packaging sets a precedent for other businesses to follow suit. Moreover, we allocate a portion of our annual profits to support local farmers, helping to sustain their lands and livelihoods.

We hope to inspire other companies to do the same, supporting environmental charities and low wage labourers who contribute to the food industry.

The future of Hand of Fatima is to create a sense of community and family in every household.

Yes Olive Oil plays a huge role in the Mediterranean diet, but the Mediterranean diet is also about lifestyle. Much of that evolves around how you approach and eat food, surrounded by those you cherish and love.

It’s a daily practice and a sustainable way of living, laughing often, living a simple content life with minimum possessions. Hence they are happier, healthier and live longer.

My story is on my bottle, in its design, in its quality and in its meaning.

I wish for every individual that obtains Hand of Fatima Olive Oil to feel that they are part of my community and family and be encouraged to create that lifestyle personally for themselves.

IMAGES ©Hand of Fatima 2024
THE ARTISAN FOUNDER

Thank you Fatima for sharing your founder story. It is a wonderful reminder that the best ingredients in life are often those that nourish the soul.

Shop for these delicious Extra Virgin Olive Oils via the link above. We highly recommend all of the flavours for adding a zing to your summer salads and the Early Harvest is so versatile.

-Lyndsey

Enjoying the journal? Here’s more