In this new How to series we ask those who have taken the first steps into entrepreneurship how they did and what they learned.
Nested in the middle of Pienza, an UNESCO World Heritage site of the Val d’Orcia Valley in Tuscany, OFFICINE 904 flagship store is a tiny treasure cave offering a piece of Italian savoir-faire combined with contemporary design. Launched in 2010 the bag and accessory brand has quickly made it’s way out of Italy with shops opening in Warsaw, Luxembourg, Venice and corners in concept stores in Canada, New Zealand and Singapore.
The founders, Silvia and Paolo, a couple in work and life, strive to promote traditional knowledge by having each piece made by Tuscany’s craftsmen and sourcing the materials exclusively in Italy. “Our designs are inspired by our day by day lives. We want to make bags that can be used every day and that last a lifetime”. Inspired by historical Italian art their new line of bracelets and cloth, reinterpret the patterns by Luca Signorelli and Antonio Bazzi found on the frescoes that decorate the Monte Oliveto Abbey.
Convinced that quality beats quantity and that trends should not be the main drive of a young brand, the couple has managed to inspire their clients to export OFFICINE 904 in their countries “It all started when one of our clients asked us if he could open a store in Warsaw.It wasn’t in our plan to go outside of Italy so quickly, but I think that when you do a product of quality and you place all your passion in it, it becomes contagious.”
Favoring their shops over an online presence OFFICINE 904 shows how a brick and mortar shop model can still thrive in a digital era by following the Location, Location, Location adage. “Having a flagship store in a historical town that is visited by hundred of thousands of tourists each year has helped our brand to be known by international clients and potential franchisee. Of course, you can have that via an online site but meeting the clients in real life and having them touch and feel the product is a whole different experience”.
Despite their numerous international connections, the couple has no plan to leave Italy and their little town where they have now also launched a restaurant. “Our brand essence is the Made in Italy. For us, it’s a guarantee of quality. We want to take care of our clients and give them the best products we can make. It’s unthinkable to have our product made in another country even if we know that it would be more profitable. We want to build a lifestyle brand that promotes and keep alive the Italian savoir-faire and way of living through the accessories, our upcoming line of furniture and our newly opened restaurant. And that can only be done from here.”
Photography by Francesca Mey