Vice President, Earth Friendly Products
City of residence: Huntington Beach – in an entirely green home
Family: Husband, Eric Hanks, owner of an art gallery in Santa Monica that specializes in African-American art; one daughter, Alexsia Eftichia Hanks, 5; Goldie, Alexsia’s goldfish; plus a rescue dog set to arrive for Alexia’s 6th birthday
First job: Working at our company as a receptionist and file clerk when I was 16. I worked in our Illinois division each summer through high school. It’s important to work in various positions within the company prior to becoming vice president, so that you have a better understanding of each aspect of the operation.
Who or what inspires you: My father. He grew up during the Nazi occupation in Greece. He later worked as a waiter while studying chemistry at Roosevelt University in Chicago. He is the true embodiment of the human soul and human spirit.
Advice to other women in business: Work in a career that’s socially and environmentally responsible. Women naturally want to protect their families and things that they love. This will be forever represented in your body of work.
Last movie you saw: “Slumdog Millionaire”; it was incredible and brilliant – the journey of a young man who goes through so many hardships. It’s the story of human perseverance.
« From the company’s bamboo flooring to its newly installed solar panels on the roof, Earth Friendly Products proves that it’s more than just a name.
Vice President Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks has participated in the corporation’s growth from one household product to 150 of them – all of which are purely green.
“It’s not just about eating organic food. It’s the residue from existing products left behind,” Vlahakis-Hanks says.
Earth Friendly Products has five manufacturing locations in order to present less of a carbon footprint and to encourage buying locally.
“If you buy it in California,” she says, “it’s made in California.”
Vlahakis-Hanks has held just about every position in the company. She oversees all five locations, acts as a company spokesperson and creates media campaigns. It makes for a very busy schedule that, she says sadly, forces her to spend a lot of time away from her daughter. She is proud of her Greek and African-American heritage and gets daily inspiration from her father.
“I was given this gift,” she says. “He taught me that if you work hard, all things are possible. I feel proud to be part of this family.”
OC METRO'S 20 WOMEN TO WATCH:
Wendy Rogers •Neda Zaengle •Belinda Bain
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•Caroline Cotten-Nakken •Heather Williams
•Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks •Kimberlee Mitchell
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•Lisa Grant Ludwig •Tiffany Montgomery