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A Life Less Ordinary – Cassandra Stavrou

“I’d make a decent education and equitable access to the job market fundamental rights, no matter where you grew up or who you know”

Cassandra Stavrou is co-founder of Propercorn, maker of premium popcorn, and winner of the New Generation award at the Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Awards 2016.

Where do you go to think?
I like to walk, especially around Regent’s Canal. The destination doesn’t matter.

What are the everyday pleasures that you can’t live without?
Dark chocolate.

To whom do you look for advice most often?
My business partner and best friend, Ryan Kohn. He knows me better than most and is liberal with the truth, which I really value.

What’s the best thing you’ve done for someone else?
It doesn’t get better than making the people you love happy in meaningful and also little ways. My big goal is to buy my mum a house with a view of the sea.

What’s the best thing anyone’s done for you?
My father secretly bought a diamond for me when he found out he was ill. He died when I was 16 and I didn’t know it existed until the morning of my 30th birthday. It’s the most precious thing I own.

You might have guessed I like David Hockney from our branding

Where’s the best place you’ve ever been?
Discovering new places and people is what drives me, but stepping off the plane in Cyprus and smelling the jasmine through the thick, hot air is one of the best feelings. It takes me back to spending summers there as a child.

What’s the best thing you can cook?
A big fat Greek BBQ. And, of course, popcorn.

How do you make yourself happy?
Cranking up a favourite Prince track – could be Gett Off, Alphabet St, anything – and singing loudly and impressively out of tune.

Name the art and/or culture that most inspires you or enriches your leisure time.
Anything that uses colour in a bold way, from Howard Hodgkin to David Hockney. You might have guessed that from Propercorn’s branding.

Can you name something you’ve bought that you would never give away?
It was bought for me, and it’s not very big, but my record collection is largely the result of carefully sourced vinyl given to me by my brother on my birthdays.

When was the last time you were pleasantly surprised?
Our team surprise me everyday. They go above and beyond in ways that I think are very rare in business.

When was the last time you made or created something?
I love to paint and rarely make enough time to do it. It’s my escape and the last one I did – an oil painting of a female nude – was a bit of respite from a stressful time in my life.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I’m proud of what we’ve achieved so far with Propercorn, but I feel like the best is still to come.

What do you consider humankind’s greatest achievement?
The internet. I don’t need to explain the impact it has had both for business and in people’s everyday lives. It has given people the opportunity to reach all corners of the world.

Who best demonstrates, or has demonstrated, the courage of their convictions?
Every little girl who has stood up for the right to be educated and to demand real career opportunities – especially in parts of the world where gender equality remains a distant dream.

What song could you sing most completely right now?
Any hip-hop or r&b from the late-90s. I have the most spectacular recall for that period and those genres of music. It’s a rather unique skill.

What’s the best journey you’ve ever been on?
The Garden Route across South Africa by train was breathtaking and the last proper family holiday I had as a child.

If you could do one thing to change the status quo, what would it be?
I’d make a decent education and a fair and equitable access to the job market fundamental rights, no matter where you grew up or who you know.

You have one trip in a time machine: where and when would you go?
Summer 1963, Washington D.C., standing in front of the Lincoln Memorial listening to Dr Martin Luther King Jnr’s ‘I have a dream…’ speech.