While I was growing up and later working in the fashion industries, I witnessed the importance of family tradition in businesses like Ferragamo, Missoni, and Sergio Rossi.
Versace an Italian ambassador
They, like many others, were the backbone of Italy’s economy. Recently, however, the family-owned businesses have been fading away, eaten up by corporate monsters. Most of the companies left are struggling to keep their head above water, oftentimes because the younger generations are not interested or are ill-equipped to handle the stresses of business life.
Fiat 500- one car two generations right in front of me!
There are some, however, who are still successful, as they adapt to the changing times with new innovations, while retaining old traditions and high quality. When I was starting my search for a traditional family-owned furniture company, I came across a company called Nicoline, who does just that.
Working with Nicoline has been such a great success, as they manage to combine Italian passion for design and quality, German precision, and American “I want it yesterday” attitude. On my latest business trip, I was given the opportunity to visit the plant and see the intricate work that goes into each of their pieces. In keeping with their values, the plant is located in a traditional, old-fashioned Italian town. I felt like I was being welcomed with open arms, a distinct coffee smell, and prosciutto hanging in the butcher’s store like paintings in a museum.
Sofa leather can not be cut by machines!
Treasure box- Leather storage
Stresstest for Leather is a daily routine
Best quality for best sitting comfort
It felt like I was walking through a childhood memory, since this is exactly the way I remember the small Italian towns I used to visit. While walking through the Piazza, I got the impression that life stood still. Families were enjoying an evening out together, talking about their day, not a cellphone in sight. I must have been quite a sight myself, as I was pulling my luggage through the small town.
Matera is well known for its historical center called “Sassi”, considered World Heritage Site by UNESCO
In my effort to look for the unique things in life, I found a beautiful hotel…in a part of town where traffic is restricted.
Luigi, the general manager at Nicoline, picked me up from the hotel bright and early the next morning. Even he was surprised by my choice of hotel, a hidden gem in the old town. We drove (in a German car, to my delight) to the plant’s location in Altamura, Puglio. During the forty minute drive, we talked like old friends, even though we had only met once in the last year; and we had much to discuss! From his stories, I came to realize with how much understanding, knowledge, and passion the company was being run. When we finally arrived, I saw just how deeply that feeling had seeded itself within the business. Luigi guided me through the workrooms and introduced me to all the craftsmen who worked so hard to build my furniture. Something very unique to Nicoline is that they only hire Italian workers; many other companies in Italy “import” their workers from China and other Asian countries, since that is a cheaper form of labor.
After we finished our tour, I was introduced to Niko, the owner of Nicoline, and it became clear to me that he was the reason his workers were so proud of their work and attention to detail. Niko invited me to join him, his wife, and another client from Nigeria for lunch. I was excited for the opportunity to get to know the owner better, and I absolutely love traditional Italian food.
After lunch, however, the real fun started! For six hours, Luigi, Tita (the head designer of Nicoline), and I worked together to create the newest selection of furniture for Bernadette Schaeffler Collection. The working environment was absolutely fantastic; I was even tempted to stay permanently at Nicoline to design furniture. However, when we completed our designs, I became much more excited to bring them back to Dallas and show you the outcome!
I definitely found the perfect family-owned company for my showroom, and cannot wait to have the new furniture arrive in September!