Eleni Dermatas





University of Georgia - Bachelor of Science in Family and Consumer Sciences / Furnishing & Interiors

[Editor's Note: Ansley's interview is the third in a series celebrating Southern Proper this week. Check back all week long to learn what it's like to work for the Southern fashion powerhouse.]

Eleni Dermatas had admired the traditional charm of clothing brand Southern Proper before being hired by the company for her interior design expertise. Apparently Eleni’s design skills—and, we’re guessing, her reputation as a social butterfly—were impressionable enough for company founder Emmie Howard to offer her the position of manager of Internet and social media.

Now, Eleni finds herself wearing a number of hats (or southern bonnets if you prefer); from sales manager to web designer to Instagram photographer. It might seem like a lot to juggle, but Eleni maintains the variety is perfect for her “give your all” mentality. And while that attitude can sometimes cause a bit of bedtime anxiety and to-do checklists, it also prompts Eleni to keep a healthy balance between the “work hard, play hard and love hard” mentality we totally endorse.

Each day, you have to prove you're irreplaceable.

How did you discover your current job?

Ansley and I were in the same pledge class at UGA and have been best friends since freshman year of college. I've known Emmie since Ansley started more than four years ago. Southern Proper has been a brand and company I’ve admired as a consumer for several years and I was given a chance to work with the girls when they hired me as their interior designer last fall.

Recently, Southern Proper—or SoPro for short—decided it was time to expand the company and start hiring for new positions. Emmie called me up and said she wanted me to be a part of the team. After a few meetings, I was offered the position as manager of Internet and social media.

What responsibilities do you have in your role?

Like Emmie and Ansley, I wear several hats. My responsibilities include, but are not limited to, managing Internet sales, website design/maintenance and managing all social media outlets, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. I'll also assist with graphics/design, customer service and sales.  

What was it about your job that makes you feel it’s the right fit for you?

The fact that I have my hand in multiple things makes this position beyond perfect for my personality. My friends would definitely say I'm a social person.  

What challenges keep you awake at night?

I'm also a detail-oriented person. Sometimes I find myself running though a checklist before I fall asleep. I'll become paranoid that I forgot to do something or left off one little detail. It’s unnecessary anxiety I create on a weekly basis.  

Is work/life balance ever a problem with you? If so, what is one no-fail tactic you use to create balance?

Honestly, no. I've always been able to keep a healthy balance between work and play. Growing up, I had dance class three nights a week and on most weekends. I had learned from an early age how to maintain a happy harmony between schoolwork and play. Also, my design major was extremely time-consuming and I had to pull long hours in the studio. I made sure to get my work done because there was no way I was going to miss a football game or social.

This mentality has carried over into my adult life. Luckily, working at Southern Proper is hardly like "work." It’s like having my social life and work all rolled into one! 

Was there ever a moment in your career where you’ve thought, “I made it!” What was it?

Yes. It was the day I was offered my position at Southern Proper!

What are some of the rules you live by?

I live life to the fullest. I come from a long line of spirited Greeks. We really don't know how to do things small. We work hard, play hard and love hard. There is no other way. 

What qualities does it take for someone to be successful in your line of work?

You need a true sense of self. You have to be confident and comfortable in your own skin in order to promote yourself and your brand. You must be driven. I’m one of many young professionals who are trying to make their way and establish a strong career. Things don't usually just fall into your lap; you must be willing to give your all in order to become successful. Each day, you have to prove you're irreplaceable.

What one piece of advice do you wish you could tell a 21-year-old version of yourself?

Breathe. When I first graduated from college, I had moved home for about a month and was about to start my first "big girl job" in Charleston, S.C. I remember having this sense of panic—not knowing what my life had in store. Up until that point, my life had been mapped out. Then, all of a sudden, there was no map. I was scared, so I did what I usually do—I called my older brother for advice. He told that this time in your life is just weird. You're 21 and you feel like you have no purpose. He said to calm down, breathe and that everything would be fine. It turned out he was right.