Interview with Angelo
- Founder of his own, family run leather business

How and when did you begin to work in this sector?

When we left school my two brothers and I began as apprentices in a company producing leather goods. Several years later, we opened a workshop of our own. I began my apprenticeship in 1965 so I've been working in this sector for more than 50 years.

What do you like most about your job?

My favourite part is creating the prototypes and sample collections. I work with the designers, bringing their ideas to life. I like the technical challenges of developing the products they have designed, of making sure the finished piece works, is usable.

You have had more than 10 employees for many decades and are one of the few remaining leather workshops in the region. Do you think businesses like yours have a future?

It's difficult, because small businesses like ours rely on enthusiastic employees and we want to be able to reward them.
Previously, I was able to significantly raise the wages of my best-skilled and long-term employees in proportion with the passing years; this has become increasingly difficult. Competing against low-price and low-quality producers in Italy and abroad has become a constant struggle. Nowadays the dialogue between employer and employee is not easy. Being an artisan is not easy, intellectually and physically.

Hopefully, there will be a change of attitude towards high-quality leather goods and the heritage we have in Italy. Then we will again be able to offer better bonus systems to our employees.

What is it like to work with your family?

(Laughs) It is not easy. It is not easy to work with your own family, not even with your own children. You have to find compromises but, as we know, everyone has their own personality and opinions, and my daughter has them too (laughs). But she is doing great and without her strong engagement the business probably could not continue.

Angelo founded his company with his two brothers 46 years ago, his daughter Cristina will take over the company from 2016

Is there anything that you don't like about the leather industry business in Italy?

For many decades a large part of the orders we took were for the Italian market, but this has changed in the last few years. There are almost no customers from Italy anymore. Most companies have relocated their production to countries where the price of labour is very low. Unfair competition that comes about when other businesses evade the laws also makes things harder. In order to stay competitive, we focus a lot on high quality products, brands with a certain sophistication.

We have a unique heritage of craftsmanship in this country and a responsibility to preserve it for future generations. If we do not train the young people and pass on our knowledge, Italian craftsmanship will be lost.

The varnishing machine helps to make hand-labour more efficient
Although he is in pension, Angelo gets borded at home quickly and comes to work every day to create the new protoypes
No Day is Like the Other
- Interview with Anna, employee of the leather workshop since 26 years

How and when did you begin to work in this sector?

A friend of the family introduced me to Angelo when I was looking for work. It was my first contact with the leather business and I have been working here since that day - 26 years ago. And since a few years my daughter works here too.

Which one is your daughter?

The one that showed you how a wallet is made.

What do you like the most about your job?

My tasks here are manifold and different from one another, so my work is definitely not repetitive which I enjoy a lot. I help in the office, answer the phone and organise timely work schedules. I have learned most things on the job and discovered that I like managing and doing organizational tasks. It is nice to work in production and in the office at the same time. I work a lot with the leather press, punching out and preparing the separate parts of the wallets. So I pretty much make a bit of everything although I would not be able how to make a wallet all alone from the beginning to the end.

Is there something that you don't like about the leather business in Italy?

No, I'm quite content with my job. There are problems for the sector in general but I think that our company is still doing well. Our customers are satisfied and stay with us and we have good relations with them.

Each single piece of a wallet is punched out separately with the leather press
Anna is satisfied with her various responsibilities