The Marchigiana: Entrepreneur Artisan
Coming to know Daniela Diletti, ‘La Marchigiana’, in her workshop/store in San Salvario borough is an all-around experience. The designer, teacher, modern footwear ‘artisan’ can represent so many ‘lives’ that is truly astonishing. Her lives and the ones of her beloved parents Gabriele (the shoe artist) and Filomena (the edger who makes the finishes). Speaking with her gives to us, who are making the interview, but also to the whole artisanal sector a so far-reaching and modern breath: well-structured nevertheless creative, dynamic whilst respectful of legacies, rich in ‘culture’ and remembering the roots… Indeed, all you can imagine for an artisanal future of sure success is grown in her with a so great effort.
And her story begins from her family’s hardships, a story that has a deep and fundamental connection with the territory of Marche, since long-time renowned for the footwear supply-chain. Her village in the country near Ascoli Piceno has never been a boundary. It is a certainty, a place to come back and leave again for new destinations in the world. With disarming intellectual honesty, she retraces the financial ups and downs of her parents’ factory, the achievements and failures closely related to the economic development of the Italian fashion industry since the ‘80s.
Passing through closures and restarts from the sale in small markets onto a take-over and legitimate recognition of the current artisanal professionality, rich in new instruments. For Daniela, Torino has been the city of the recovery, not only her University studies location. “Because my parents – she tells us – made me study, and that da been the turning point”. A bachelor in Conservation of Cultural Heritage in Viterbo, a master at the Politecnico in Torino, whilst a job in a call center and in some flea markets, where little by little she had built customers’ loyalty. From markets to the opening of the shop in Via Saluzzo, a reference point for more relaxed purchases, where we meet Riccardo, her co-worker that is responsible for the back-office. What shoes are we talking about? Because of shoes we are speaking and we are surrounded by them while Daniela is talking. Men, women, in some cases ‘unisex’, iconic models, better said a series of basic models made in black or brown leather (with the possibility to customize them in different colors) without any constraints imposed by fashion, but being an answer to the customers’ needs.
The customers learn on Instagram how to recognize the models’ peculiarities, that must overall guarantee comfort. “My challenge is to render attractive a comfortable shoe. Our models change just according to the materials we find. We work on hybrids, but the design is not so interesting to me, even if it is a defined point as well as the approach to the production process and communication. I’m interested in the professional apparatus which has to move around artisanship in these times.
I’m a passionate teacher at the IAAD (where I’m back to History of Art and Design, a subject I love) and I try to inspire in my students the need to know and study in multiple directions, in addition to the will power, the perseverance, the acceptance of risks in order to establish themselves as artisans”. In the store, we notice some beautiful handbags, which are Daniela’s own creations, a true passion of hers dated back to her youth. When she was fifteen, rather than hanging out with friends, she made her very first handbag, which met a great success among her teachers… The current bags are sporty, anti-snatching (remembering her subway trips), and “triples” (backpack, messenger bag, and cross-body bag). It’s so huge the experience of this young entrepreneur that it sounds weird to ask her about the future, but we know she will surprise us.
In fact, here is her answer: “According to my analysis, I see two possible directions for our business sector: the fashion system crisis that leaves some breaches producing a natural selection on objectively useless firms. But if the artisan understands that also training as an entrepreneur is necessary and this second aspect doesn’t affect creativity and talent, but valorize them, well in this way there will be a bright future also for youth. We need an open mind, discussion, a net, cooperation and a lot of training.
That’s why for ‘La Marchigiana’ brand I’m thinking to open some temporary-shops in Italy and in Europe, some pop-up stores in order to show iconic models to be bought then online. It would be becoming a kind of nomad artisan, still maintaining a reference point in Torino that has been for us the city of recovery. Furthermore, I’m working on a beautiful project of bundling with some friends from Marche Alice Cococcioni and Alice Vitelli, in order to create a training institution for entrepreneurship on site. And then in Torino a branch of that school that can concretely offer an orientation to graduates who want to change their lives. Artisans lack the development of the artisanal aspect. As women, with our flexibility and openness, we dream of modernly recovering the connection between manufacture and territory, opening it to everybody without distinctions. From here a further step towards politics meant as preservation, maintenance and care for the public assets, in my case, artisanship, might be natural… sometimes in the future”.
Best wishes Daniela! We support you so that talking to the future may become not only a challenge but a certainty.