RAI News 24 – Chiara Bellini: mother, designer and businesswoman
Interview with Chiara Bellini – Businesswoman and Technical Designer for Chiara Bellini brand of footwear and fashion accessories in PVC entirely Made in Italy – held by the journalist of RAI News 24, Veronica Fernandes.
Below is the article “The height of luxury in Russia? Rainboots Made in Italy” published today, Friday, 30 January, 2015 on the web portal of RAI News 24 in the Trends Category.
The height of the luxury in Russia? Rain Boots Made in Italy32 years old and mother of two girls, she has in a year designed the collection that has pulled the family business out of the crisis: plastic boots and even sandals that have conquered the high-end market in Russia. The key to success? Made in Italy and the ability to innovate. This is how, says research by the Bocconi University, Italian family businesses have managed to keep afloat in the years of deep crisis.
The journey of boots and plastic bags, gold coated or with crocodile print, which are conquering the luxury shop windows of Moscow and half of Russia starts from Cizzolo, a village of 700 inhabitants shrouded in the mists and silence of the Po Valley. A success against the general trend – since 2008 Italian manufacturing has lost over a million jobs – which tells the story of Italian family businesses which, with the risk of a Tetris game and a taste for transformation, have managed to grapple with the crisis and win. Behind this are a young designer, Chiara Bellini, 32 years old and mother of two daughters, her two brothers Lorenzo and Michele and the company founded by the great-granparents in 1927 to produce wooden clogs and then work boots in PVC.
When Russia was looking for a brand that (still) did not exhist“The origin of the brand that bears my name - says Chiara Bellini - is in a meeting at MICAM, an industry trade show, when a Russian client asked us if there was a luxury brand, completely Italian, able to produce boots for the harsh northern winters, with fashion and for women”. No there isn’t - she and her brothers replied - but we will invent it. A year of non-stop work and today the giant Rendez Vous has asked for the exclusivity of some products, such as boots with real sheepskin lining. But they even wanted sandals for Russia.
Succumb to the crisis or change: the choice of luxuryAt the beginning of the twenty-first century, with the advent of cut-price rubber products from China, the sector was pulverized, between the road towards safety protection (the most popular) and luxury (a niche market). They chose the latter.
"It was a bet - Chiara says today - because it completely changes the way we produce, we can now say that it went well”. They then began to specialize in producing for the big names in luxury. It went well, even though resisting the crisis which began in 2008 was a painful process. They also founded another brand, though, according to Assocalzaturifici data (footwear manufacturers association), the great depression in the industry is not over: Italy could be close to the triple dip in the business cycle, down for the third time since 2008, under the alarm threshold of 200 million pairs put on the market, when the pre-crisis average was 25 million more.
But luxury is a star performer.
The data are in the latest Bocconi-High range report: in 2014 it accounted for 223 billion and grew by 5%.
The report states: "A positive aspect is the fact that quality and innovation again prove to be an important success factor and that the top of the range is the most healthy segment".
"When I breastfed my daughter answering suppliers"Chiara was pregnant while creating the first collection and even a few days after the birth of Margherita you certainly could not stop: "There were days when she was not even a month old - she laughs - when I breastfed while writing emails to customers and suppliers to finish everything in time”.
The same applies to the brothers - the elder has three children, the younger two: to get from home to the office means only crossing the road and, when trade fairs or deliveries loom, it is often a path they follow in the dark, early in morning or in the evening. It is in this spirit that the Italy of family businesses - 40.7% of the total, the highest figure in Europe - has managed to turn the tide after suffering the crisis so heavily between 2008 and 2009. The Bocconi University AUB observatory says so: "The positive difference of 10 points increase in turnover between 2009 and 2013, compared to non-family companies, shows this”.
The three ingredients for success: Italian spirit, tradition and innovationEntirely produced and manufactured in Italy – much appreciated abroad - the collection combines the experience gained over the years working in the family business, which is called Maresca, and innovation. So there are boots and accessories in PVC, as written in the DNA of the company, with leather and gold, crocodile and metal inserts that reflect the mood of the market today.