Italy, La DoubleJ Loves You
Meet the top-notch Italian talent behind all of our dresses, locally made silks, porcelains and Murano glass. Discover how their businesses are staying afloat amidst the Covid-19 pandemic thanks to their unshakable, unparalleled, heart-pumping passion for their craft.
How have our beloved Italian suppliers been staying afloat in the midst of an economic meltdown? “With positivity, hard work and a touch of inventiveness!” cries Claudia Boschini, of Verona-based Ancap which produces our porcelain plates; “We must not break down!” laughs Martina Semenzato of venerable glassware maker Salviati, which handmakes our rainbow glasses in Murano; “I’m fighting and I’m pumped!” chimes Antonella (Anto) Solaroli, whose company, Donna Esse, handcrafts all our clothes in her small bottega outside Bologna; “We’ll meet again and will be fine,” assures Franco Mantero from the shores of Lake Como, where his eponymous brand makes our beautiful silks.
This small group of world-class talent is the unseen backbone to businesses like ours. You can find them tirelessly working away all over Italy; heads down, hearts full of passion for creating the very best product possible and worthy of that hallowed Made in Italy stamp.
The spirit in which we work with them is so much more than professional arrangement. Think more meeting of the minds sharing in good times and bad (when JJ and Anto agreed to work together, they shook hands over a trattoria table and promised to have a pizza together if things didn’t work out).
But it’s no secret that things have been - still are - tough. The Italian economy has been hit hard over the last two months since the outbreak of Covid-19 forced everyone inside. With factories closed and workers at home - many on Cassa Integrazione - everyone is trying to adapt, be agile and hold onto their staff and their craft. Anto, Franco, Martina and Claudia have – like us – been grappling with lockdown and what that means for our 100% Made in Italy businesses.
“In this moment, we notice everyone coming together in teams, togetherness, people working together, all of us who care so much about the job,” says Claudia, who closed her factory which provides work to 110 people in February, yet tells us she is pushing ahead with “great enthusiasm” on our next collection. “As you know,” she adds, “Italians are famous for being very bravi in crisis or critical problems.”
Martina says that Salviati “activated the shock absorbers…” by postponing production and has been focused on supporting the families of its 1,000 employees. As has become accepted in Italy, she tells us that she believes “we will have to live with this virus and change our habits until they find a cure,” and has been using her stay-at-home time resourcefully. “I am rewriting the Salviati website, we are setting up e-commerce, the new catalogues – all the things you don’t usually do because you are busy with operations.”
While Franco was early to shut operations because he was awake at night worried about the safety of his 500-strong staff, he has been concerned over post-lockdown life. “My fear is for the future. When we resume, what size will the business be? How will our clients respond? There are those who believe it will start with a crazy economic boom, others that there will be a big downsizing – I’m more in the second group of thinking.”
He adds that he hopes the government will incentivise brands producing in Italy to boost the economy again. He’s also hopeful there will be some an increased sense of national pride that keeps Italians producing at home.
Anto strikes a similar patriotic note. “In difficult times, courage and ideas come out!” she says. She closed her company, which has 30 employees, at the end of March.“When I see the Italian flag, I feel like crying. I feel very patriotic and I think that it's in our nature to be full of resources, especially in difficult times,”she adds. “For this month, month and a half, we've been planning new things and then we will start again,” agrees Martina.
One thing’s for sure: there’ll be no lack of desire nor determination from us and this close-knit crowd when lockdown starts to lift next week. Anto has a great analogy for it: “The average Italian does things well when he is hungry, so now we will be hungry and desperate and get out!” Although not hungry enough for that pizza date with J.J. any time soon.