Exponent Super Human - Katina Mountanos

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Exponent Interviews Kosterina Founder Katina Mountanos

Convictions from the Super Humans we admire the most.


Katerina (Katina) Mountanos is the co-founder and CEO of Kosterina—the one-stop destination for the best parts of the Mediterranean lifestyle, offering Mediterranean-sourced food products, a natural olive oil-based skincare line and healthful recipes and cookbooks. Raised in a Greek family, Katina grew up in a Mediterranean culture and was fortunate enough to enjoy olive oil pressed from her family’s olive oil trees in Greece. As she began raising her own family in the states (she now has three kids), she was disappointed not to find any olive oils comparable in quality or taste to what she had growing up. A serial entrepreneur, Katina was an early employee at successful startups like Jet and Quidsi and already had experience starting another successful company: She co-founded VC-backed Manicube, which brought manicures, pedicures, and personal care services to corporate offices, and she ran the business until it sold to Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spas. SoKatina decided to take matters into her own hands. Partnering with farmers in the Peloponnese region of Southern Greece, Katina began making what is now Kosterina’s best-selling Original Extra Virgin Olive Oil. She officially launched Kosterina in 2020, with the mission of sharing the benefits of the Mediterranean lifestyle, and has expanded her offerings to include vinegars, olives, and an olive oil-based skincare line, with additional products in the pipeline.

We use the phrase "think outside of the jar" rather than "think outside the box."  What does this phrase mean to you?
Think outside the jar is a call to challenge conventional wisdom and common thinking. Let’s challenge ourselves to find extraordinary possibilities in what might seem ordinary at first glance.

What is your most marked characteristic?
Kindness laced with a little karaoke. (Thank you Liz for helping me with this one) :)

I’ve always wanted to
write a screenplay and see my film at the Sundance Film Festival. Too much of a leap?

What is your greatest extravagance?
My Sakara subscription. I’ve been a lunch subscriber for 4+ years because it means I’m having at least one ultra-healthy, eat-the-rainbow-type meal every single day. Since I work from home most days, it means I can maximize my work hours while my kids are at school. The Sakara meals are organic and delicious, and I’ve been blown away by how great their operations are. I’ve never once experienced an issue or an error.

What is it that you most dislike?

What song would you want played as you enter every room for the rest of your life?
Easy. "Informer" by Snow.

Thriller or comedy?
Definitely comedy. I’m very wimpy when it comes to scary movies. I walked out of the movie Scream in high school because I was terrified.

Describe your medicine cabinet (a verbal shelfie)
SO many products inside the medicine cabinet, but the ones that stay out are my Exponent Retinol, my Ilia foaming cleanser, my Kosterina Extra Virgin Moisturizer, Face Oil and Deodorant, and my Briogeo anti-frizz cream.

I am FULL OF passion and discipline; I am FREE OF doubt and chaos.

What inspired you to start Kosterina? What’s been most surprising or challenging on your journey?

My family is from a small fishing village called Koroni in the center of olive country in southern Greece. Koroni is the original home of the Koroneiki olive—the most popular varietal of olives grown throughout all of Greece—so, I grew up knowing what good olive oil tasted like.

As I started my own family, I started cooking more at home. I found that the Greek “extra virgin” olive oil at the supermarket here tasted absolutely nothing like what my family produced and enjoyed in Greece. I knew I wanted to bring the good stuff to the US. As I began development, I took an olive oil sommelier course and I was blown away by the health benefits of olive oil when harvested early and milled properly. I learned about the polyphenols found in EVOO and the story of the research team that discovered them.

I also discovered that the majority of the olive oils sold in the US are not what they say they are so I decided to focus my efforts on making an EVOO that is authentically Mediterranean, delicious to smell, taste, and cook with, and, above all, loaded with health benefits. In order to be deemed extra virgin, an olive has to have 55 mg/kg of polyphenol content. Kosterina Original EVOO always has greater than 500 mg/kg, 8-10x more than your typical olive oil.


What or who inspires you?

Other women entrepreneurs inspire me endlessly—especially those who are also in beauty, food, health and wellness.


You’re an entrepreneur, business owner and mother, how do you find balance?

I spend a lot of time goal setting for the medium to long term and also planning my week hour by hour. There is so much required of me from my family and so much I want to do to push Kosterina forward that my solution is to PLAN. If I spend time carefully planning, I can accomplish everything I want to achieve.


What’s your favorite self-care routine?

Sauna and cold plunge after a run.


What’s your favorite guilty pleasure?

Perfect Bar Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups. Oh and TikTok.


How do you stay motivated?

I get really motivated by customer feedback. I live for reading positive customer reviews that come in on our website. I particularly love stories from people who are trying to turn around their lives by eating and living healthy. I’m motivated to truly help people make better food and health choices in their everyday lives that are still delicious and sustainable.


Describe your ideal work environment and what you need to be successful.

Honestly my favorite place to work is my local coffee shop. A large coffee and my laptop are all I need. There’s something about the mix of caffeine, white noise and the occasional social interaction that makes me hyper productive and creative at the same time.

What is an important ritual in your daily life that helps keep you grounded?

Morning and bedtime routines with my 3 little kids who are 4, 6 and 7 years old.


What’s the best advice you have ever received? Personal, professional or both.

When work becomes play, you’ll never work another day for the rest of your life.



Learn more at: Kosterina.com.



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