Anaskela Co-Founder Jana Khoury Gives Us The Who, What & Wear On Greece

Jana, 40, lives in Tunbridge Wells with her husband and two children, but with a business partner in the Middle East – where she also spent a number of years – and family in Greece – where Jana grew up – she spends much of her life traversing the globe.

For Jana, as well as family, beaches are her joy and happiness, so creating a functional brand that fits her tri-coastal lifestyle seemed second nature. As is her commitment to preserving the environment she loves so much. Anaskela was born with both in mind.

The towels are made using a recycled PET mircofibre – which ends up saving plastic bottles from a landfill, or the ocean, and re-purposes them into the ultimate travel accessory. Since launching, they’ve been given a global seal of approval by stylists, travel experts and surfers alike.

Here, we chat to Jana about the brand, plus get the inside track on Greece. Read on to find out what to pack, the brands to know and where to stay.

Can you tell me a bit about Anaskela – from concept to creation? 

Anaskela was founded by Melissa and I; we are childhood friends who grew up spending wonderful summers on the Greek islands. Fast-forward a couple of decades, now with families, I live in the UK and Melissa in Qatar; although we live miles apart on different continents, we’ve managed to stay close over the years. While building our careers (I worked in luxury fashion, most recently with Christian Louboutin, Melissa worked in sales and logistics), we often talked about creating something together. It was in the summer of 2018, while Melissa was in Skiathos, she called me with an idea about a towel that she desperately needed but that didn’t exist. With a family in tow, lugging heavy beach towels around the Greek islands was less than ideal. So together we came up with a functional, sustainable and stylish travel towel. As lovers of the beach, we also felt doing what we could to protect our precious environment should be part of the ethos, so each towel is made using recycled PET bottles.

Can you tell me about the creative process?

Each design is inspired by natural surroundings, especially from Greece. The sea, the, sand, the rocks, a secluded cove, a lonely olive tree on a hill – in an abstract way, all these elements are reimagined into geometric patterns. From functionality and design, to our pledge to increase the amount of recycled material in our fabric, and collaborate with other brands and organisations with a shared ethos, the environment as a whole is always at the heart of what we do.

"Previously we worked on a collaboration with illustrator Rebecca Manley, and created a series of gift boxes. 10% of profits went to WWF Greece, who are highlighting the ocean waste issue caused by PPE as a result of the ongoing pandemic. We try to be reactive, and always find ways to give back to the environment we love so much."


You live in Kent, but usually spend a couple of months a year in Greece – Could you tell me about your affinity with Greece? 

I grew up in Greece from the age of 6, and I have family still based there, so we visit when we can. Growing up there was such a privilege. You really experience all four seasons there, so we had snow and skiing in the winters and the islands essentially in our backyard, in the summer. Whenever we think about new places to explore in the summer, I find it hard to imagine a place that would beat the Greek experience. From the beaches, to the food, nightlife, and the people. I always say it’s a guaranteed good time.

Where exactly do you go? 

We go to Athens to visit family then visit islands. We used to regularly go to Skiathos island every summer, which became a family tradition. Skiathos really has it all – beautiful beaches, excellent tavernas, a vibrant town, and still some remote areas to explore, although it is definitely far busier nowadays than it was 30 years ago when we first visited.  We’ve visited quite a few islands over the years however there are literally thousands of islands to explore, so we might branch out in the future!

Do you have a favourite place that you can share with us? 

There are so many idyllic spots in Greece, I could name 50 beaches that are my favourite! There are 6,000 islands, but you only ever seem to hear of the same few. A few years ago we went to Folegandros – one of the smaller Cyclades islands – there was a beach that you could only get to by hiking along a mountain and walking right through a taverna at the top of a hill to access the beach. The hike was beautiful with lots of gorgeous little bays along the way. Folegandros is a tiny, sleepy place, it’s not overrun by tourists, yet.

"A few years ago we went to Folegandros - one of the smaller Cyclades islands - there was a beach that you could only get to by hiking along a mountain and walking right through a taverna at the top of a hill to access the beach."


"Another element of our commitment to the environment is organising beach clean-ups. Our very first was at Falassarna beach in Crete and was in collaboration with Dedisa A.E. and supported by Plastic-Free Greece. We hope to make them a regular thing."


How is the Greece connection reflected in the brand?

The name ‘Anaskela’ is Greek, and the inspiration behind the designs come from the Greek landscape. When we put the collection together, we usually meet in a beautiful spot in Greece and soak it all up while we work.

What’s on your packing list for this year? 

Ancient Greek sandals, a swimsuit from sustainable label Bower, a dress from Mara Hoffman, a Savapile straw visor, and two towels from our new collections; my favourites are Anchor Red (from the Not Another Stripe collection) and Abyss Yellow which is a new colourway from the Geometria collection.

Do you have any daily/ weekly rituals while you’re in Greece? 

Meeting a friend for a coffee is a ritual (for most people) in Greece. Going for a coffee happens nearly every day! I try and go for a walk or a run daily as well while I’m there as I feel like the good weather should be taken advantage of.

Do you have a favourite hotel/ spa?

For a super luxurious stay in Athens, the Four Seasons Astir Palace Hotel is incredible. It was renovated a couple of years ago and is really beautiful with stunning sea views, luxury facilities and excellent dining options like Matsuhisa, Beefbar and Taverna 37. There are plenty of boutique hotels, B&Bs and property rentals on the mainland and islands as well.

What do you love the most about the time you spend there?

Our time in Greece is pretty much the absolute opposite of our lives in the UK. Apart from the obvious difference in weather, we spend a lot more time outdoors, at the beach and going on adventures. Also as we are usually on holiday in Greece, we are escaping the structure, routine and pressures of everyday life, so it feels very relaxed when we are there.

Can you tell me about one or two local businesses you’ve discovered?

There is a wonderful hat brand called Savapile. She has a studio in downtown Athens where she makes hats and bags out of straw by hand. She took over the business from her father, and is very successful in Greece.

Favourite place for coffee/ to eat out?

There are so many its difficult to narrow it down. I love Greek food, so there are plenty of local tavernas all over, plus Athens has some incredible international restaurants as well. When I’m in Athens (the northern suburbs where my family home is) we often eat at an Italian called Salumaio di Montenapoleone.  Downtown Athens is a buzzing cool city with plenty of trendy bars and eateries, with new ones popping up every time I visit.

Favourite shop stocking independent brands?

In Greece, Soho Soho, Zilly and Luisa are a few that come to mind. Another independent boutique I love in Athens is Living Green – they have amazing eco friendly products, lots for kids and gifts. I always stop by when I’m in town.

Any travel plans for the rest of the year? 

I’m currently in Tunbridge Wells, so Greece. Always.

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