CPiF loves a good collaboration story, so we got together with Maria Riazanova and Tania Timkova to talk about EaTravel and learn about how a life-long friendship turned into a growing events company focused on slow living and unique experiences in Italy, South Africa, and Ukraine. From workshops, to private dinners, to parties, Maria and Tania bring together creative people from diverse fields to create tailor-made events aimed to inspire.
EaTravel has a delicious new event coming up on May 29th, 2016 called Springtime Gathering. To learn more about the event, click here.
CPiF: How did you meet, and when did you start developing the concept of EaTravel?
Tania: We’ve known each other for almost 20 years, since elementary school, and we’ve been very close friends for the last 10 years. The idea of EaTravel came to us a couple of years ago when, having traveled quite a lot around Italy, we decided that we wanted to share some hidden gems, cool places, and local producers with people. First we were thinking about organizing bespoke tours, but later the concept of EaTravel events developed.
Maria: It took us almost a year to start actually get started. Everything began from an idea and a spark of inspiration! I remember seeing some amazing pictures taken in unknown Venetian palazzo in my Instagram feed. At the time I was in my hometown in Ukraine planning my upcoming trip to South Africa, and seeing those very special photos was really serendipitous. I wanted to organize such a special magical feast myself. By that time Tania was already in Cape Town and I immediately dropped her a short message “Let’s organize our first South African dinner!”, and one month after that we were celebrating the beginning of African autumn with a beautifully styled dinner in Cape Town.
What is the EaTravel mission?
T: Our mission is to celebrate life and small things. We want to remind the world (and ourselves) that happiness is created by simple details, curiosity and a bit of inspiration, and that the everyday routine can be turned into something exciting. We believe creativity comes in different forms: from making something with your hands to simply appreciating food and wine.
M: We also aim to promote small local producers by involving them in our events, gathering everyone around the table to be part of a true adventure.
Who makes up the EaTravel team? What are your specific roles?
T: We run EaTravel together, and we share all the duties by learning to support, delegate, listen to each other. We are really good friends, and we trust each other completely, but we also know it is important to divide work and friendship.
M: In Italy we couldn’t imagine working without our good friend Caterina Tiurina. She is a sommelier and helps to choose the best wines for our events. For every event we look for new locations and people such as cooks, winemakers, local producers, florists, decorators and travel agents. All these people, even if for one only event, become a part of our team. Our small team reminds me of a little family restaurant or a pastry shop where we do everything from A to Z. It’s a pleasure for us to participate in every phase of the process: from planning the event, inviting people, and working in social media, to decorating, cooking, and taking photos…in a few words “creating magic” – that’s how I describe it.
How do you marry your passion for a slow-living experience with a successful business model?
T: Modern economics is based on emotions and impressions. We try to unite things that we like: educational aspects, small beautiful details, good food and wine, meeting new people, inspiring each other. Bringing these aspects together in each specific event, we create a unique experience where you not only learn new things, but also celebrate with other people and listen to their stories. Our guests tell us that they leave the events being inspired and motivated to learn and create, and some creative collaborations have even been born afterwards. We believe that these kind of events are something people are ready to pay for.
M: We are still at the very beginning of this adventure, but the key is planning and working hard. We both have a graduate degree in International Management, so in theory we know what to do to make it work. We are putting our knowledge into practice.
What makes EaTravel different from other tour or experience travel options?
T: Our main distinctive feature is that each event reflects us, the creators, in some way — our hobbies, our vision, the things we like. I can say with confidence that we put all that we are into every event, so you can feel a bit of “soul’ in them. We create a warm atmosphere, as if we were welcoming people into our own house. For this reason we tend to keep our events small and “homey” for now.
M: Our approach and personal experiences set us apart. We create tailor-made events not only in Italy, but also in South Africa and Ukraine where we are originally from. For us EaTravel is an attempt to unite everything we love – our passion for all beautiful things, photography, the right lighting, delicious food, and the philosophy of wine and coffee.
What is the starting point or inspiration for an event? A location? A certain dish? A client?
T: Inspiration may come from a concrete person, or a certain location. It may happen that we learn about someone’s story and want to meet this person and share his/her creative views with others, and develop the event from there.
M: Sometimes inspiration also comes from an expert like a cook or a blogger, or even from an idea for a table setting. And of course you are right – the clients also dictate their rules!
How would you describe the visual design concept behind your events?
T/M: We design every event according to the focus of the experience and to the location where it is held. Some venues don’t need any specific design, all the we need is to add music and candles, some places require a bit of an elegant touch. We are Pinterest fans 🙂
We love that you involve local artisans in your events. Can you tell us a bit about some of your past and future collaborations?
T: This summer we celebrated a slow living experience with the fabulous Irene Berni from Valdirose Bed and Breakfast. If you are following us on Instagram you will have seen lots of lovely photos from our Summer Garden Gathering. At the beginning of August we also started collaborating with the amazing KmZero Tours and hosted a private dinner in their house. This week everyone is welcome to join us for the Sweet September Gathering at their country home Montrogoli.
We are also planning several events in Cape Town, South Africa, and later next spring – new dinners, workshops (and something bigger) in Italy. Follow us for updates.
M: I would also love to mention the producers with whom we have worked previously: cheese-makers from San Gimignano Forme d’Arte and wine-makers Poggio al Bosco from Tuscany. They believed in us and supported our idea at the very beginning of our Italian collaboration. We are also going to collaborate with some Florentine artisans to create uncommon tours in Florence. We are still working on that so I won’t reveal all our secrets now.
Tell us more about your upcoming event, Sweet September Gathering on September 25. Who is involved and what can your guests look forward to?
T: You can expect a pastry workshop from our friend Emanuela Regi from Dolce Peonia, a tasty buffet with wine from local Tuscany producers, and a hands-on cooking experience. And of course, nice music, Chianti landscapes, professional photos and small surprises for each guest are also included.
M: It will be really a lovely event in Chianti with a cozy candlelit atmosphere. Anyone who is interested in learning to cook simple yet delicious desserts is welcome!
Aside from attending one of your events, how can Creative People members get involved with EaTravel? Are you interested in meeting artisans, artists or other creatives to collaborate with?
T: Definitely! We are constantly looking for creative people, no matter from which field! Of course we are focused on food and wine producers, cooks and small artisans, but we are planning future bigger events where the musicians, artists, photographers etc. can be involved. So just shout out, and let’s get to know each other!
For more information about EaTravel and upcoming events:
For more information about Tania and Maria:
Tania Timkova: I am 27, born and raised in Odessa, Ukraine, and have been traveling between South Africa and Italy for the last 4 years. I studied management and used have an office job, but some years ago I found my calling as a wedding photographer. I never get tired of shooting unconventional intimate ceremonies and organizing them as well. I am a dreamer and a doer (I hope). I like traveling, reading, cooking for friends and having long talks over a glass of wine. EaTravel is a true reflection of what I appreciate in life–home, friends, beauty, talented people and nice food.
Maria Riazanova: I’m 26 years old and proudly Ukrainian. I love to talk but I find it embarrassing to talk about myself. I used to work in an office but I soon understood that I wasn’t made for that life, so I quit and bought a ticket to Italy. Now I live between Florence and Odessa and have recently added another place on the globe to the collection of places that I call home – dreamy Cape Town. Photography is an essential part of my life. I’m still looking for my personal style and niche but I’m sure this hobby will be always with me. I have so many interests that I hardly find free time to cover them all: dancing, fashion illustration, collage, foreign languages, reading…it’s an endless list! I love the idea of my own home and happy big family…maybe not now but one day. I love seeing a big group of people around the table. I think that sharing food is such an intimate act, and I truly believe that every day can be a feast, even without any particular reason.
We first met Maria and Tania when they participated in the CPiF Instagram takeover project this summer. To see the images they shared, and to see who else has shared a glimpse of contemporary Florence, follow us @creativepeopleinflorence.
Fantastic feature guys, I really enjoyed the pop-up dinner we recently went to with the girls and Kmzero tours, they certainly are very talented event planners!
I had the pleasure to meet Tania and knew there was something deeper, almost magical about this creature 🙂 Now I know more of the story – great interview!