Interview: Eva Karayiannis

Annie met up with Eva Karayiannis, founder of the uber chic kids’ fashion brand, Caramel Baby & Child. Having grown up in Greece, including studying Law in Athens, Eva came to London to take a History of Art course at Sotheby’s South Kensington. Here she met her husband who is also Greek. They live in Chelsea, with two grown-up daughters on the verge of flying the nest and a five-year-old son. We discover that we have lots in common, not least as older mothers to young children. A striking and stylish woman, she wears her experience well and has much wisdom to impart. 

How long have you lived in the UK and where is home? I’ve lived in London – Chelsea – for 25 years. As to where home is: Greece is part of me, and I have taken on other cultures by travelling. I choose who I am these days.

Have you kept any family Greek traditions? Easter is huge for all Greeks. We always go to church (even if we don’t the rest of the year); I decorate eggs with paint and we eat lamb. If we can, we try to be in Greece for Easter. There, the smaller the village, the bigger the festivities.

You’ve been a mother for a long time with a big gap between your older two children and your young son. How have you changed as a mother? I’m kinder now. I am more patient, more confdent and assertive with dealing with his teachers. Secret to juggling motherhood and work? I just try to do my best. You can’t be perfect.

What pearls of wisdom would you like to bestow on your children? As Socrates said, ‘An unexamined life is not worth living.’ 

What’s your perfect weekend? Staying in bed, flicking through magazines. Then brunch with my daughters. Monopoly.

Secret escape? Yeotox, a walking retreat in Devon, one of the most beautiful places in the world.

What have you learned from your children? Lots. Quite often to keep my mouth shut! I try to be modern and not encroach my ideas on them because I don’t have the answers. I value and respect them.

Top tip for happy family life? Embrace reality and go with the flow.

How do you come up with your fashion storylines? It’s all about colour. I might see a painting I love and the mood board starts there.

What do clothes mean to you? I just love clothes; they enrich my life. They need to have colour and/or shape. Miuccia Prada has a book that never ends; she’s genius. My daughters are now wearing my Prada and Marni clothes from when neither had shops and I used to buy them wholesale. 

Which kids’ designers do you most admire? There is a new French cashmere brand called Cataleya. Also the designer who once was at Quincy, called Anouk, who works for Hartford now.

What or who has been the greatest influence on your life? My husband totally changed my life, not because it meant my leaving Greece but in more fundamental ways. We have done so many things that neither one of us would have done if we hadn’t met.

Favourite food? Calamari and olives, with ouzo.

Favourite restaurant? Opposite my office in Chelsea: Joe’s Oriental Diner.

Your perfume? Penhaligon’s Eau Sans Pareil.

Favourite Greek myth? Theseus and the Minotaur. When he forgets to hoist the white flag, letting his father know he is safe, his father falls to his death. Surely the ultimate tragedy. 

Caramel Baby & Child