Athena Bravos proudly describes herself as a one-and-a-half generation American. Her mother is Greek and her father is a first generation Greek American. “My mother, who’s lovingly called Yiayia – grandmother in Greek – perfected her treasured granola recipe several years ago, passed it along to me, and our family has enjoyed it ever since.”
“I studied Hotel, Restaurant, and Travel Management at Cal Poly Pomona with the goal of traveling the world working in hotels. My path took a different turn, where I was able to travel the world, as a corporate meetings and incentive planner. It was a great career.”
While her husband Peter was completing his residency in anesthesiology at the University of Southern California, they had their first child. During the baby’s first year, Athena continued to travel, taking her mother or her husband with her. “Together we raised a very well-traveled baby,” she laughs.
Upon the completion of Peter’s residency, the family moved to Yuba City in the Sacramento Valley, where he had grown up, and Athena retired. Two more children were born, and at first Athena found she didn’t miss working, but as the children got older and were all in school, she wanted a new challenge.
Athena channeled her skills into founding an educational foundation at the children’s school. “This was a time when school budgets were being cut, and valuable programs needed funding in order to continue. I was part of a group of nine mothers who wrote grant proposals and raised money for art, music, sports, and field trips. It was wonderful to see how our efforts made a difference for the kids.”
After a few years, it was time to pass the baton to others, and Athena started thinking about a new venture. “I had been making Yiayia’s granola recipe for years. Peter had been giving it as gifts to his professional colleagues. Then a farmstand near us wanted to sell the granola. That prompted me to begin the business-building process.”
In February of 2016 – the day she got her California business license -- a friend took Athena’s granola to New Earth Market in Yuba City, and they immediately decided to carry it. “They wanted to have it for a big celebration they were having in a couple of weeks, so all of a sudden the whole family was enlisted to fill this first big order.”
“My family has been involved at each point in the development of AtheenOats with their endless support and input. Our oldest daughter Alexa also helped me search out a not-for-profit organization to partner with that was a fit with our family. My father passed away from lung cancer, so the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation has been a meaningful partnership. We’re delighted to donate a portion of our sales to fighting lung cancer. We also support local fundraisers, such as golf tournaments and charity runs, with granola for the bags given to each participant.”
“Our granolas are made with wholesome, natural ingredients, amazing flavors, and a satisfying crunch. It’s very gratifying to hear the delightful comments of our customers, and we are proud to support the efforts of others in order to be socially responsible corporate citizens.”