You know guys, it’s been MONTHS (again!) since I last wrote on the blog, I keep promising myself to write often but somehow work and life and things to do always get in the way, as things happen faster than I’m able to write them down!
But here’s the thing, now that I’ve finally announced the opening of my atelier on December 5 and it’s no longer a secret, I can finally share the story behind it with you. Well at least the first part of the story, because the story is LONG.
When I started this little business 3 years ago I wasn’t even remotely hoping to have an atelier in the city so close to the center any time soon. I was happy I could make dresses from my livingroom in the suburbs, and sell and ship them all around the world. But at some point one year ago something started to change. My home studio started filling itself with new furniture, tools and fabric, and I had more and more clients asking for appointments, not only from Milan but from all over Northern Italy. They would come and discuss dresses and have their measurements taken by me and then come again for fittings and picking up their dresses. They were brides, bridesmaids and wedding guests and girls buying dresses for their parties. And it was then that I realized that a home studio would never look and feel as professional as I wanted my business to look and feel, not to mention I live 20 minutes walk away from the nearest metro station! It was also then that I realized that I HAD to turn what looked like a remote dream into reality, and I had to do it sooner than predicted: having my own atelier in the city, where I could receive my clients in a warm, elegant and classy atmosphere, and where I would have enough space to design and make all the crazy dresses that were going through my head!
After launching my own website and e-shop in March and getting swamped with orders, I spent my whole end of the summer building my business plan to see how my business would look like after the new costs of the atelier would have been added. After completing the business plan I got the OK for the financing and started looking for THE PLACE. I won’t play fancy schmancy here, I AM on a budget! I saw several places (I was considering shops, laboratories and offices) in various areas of Milan (one of them very central but paradoxically that area had a bad reputation), but none of them was what I wanted. For the rent money I had in my budget, the places were either in basements, either too small, either too ugly or too dark, either in buildings with nasty neighbors who thought a sewing machine makes the same noise as a cannon. I was kind of losing hope as I was opening the real estate sites every morning. There were plenty of other places available but all were not even worth visiting as they were in remote areas of Milan. I could not envision my atelier in any of those places.
And then one morning while checking the latest real estate announcements I saw THIS ONE. It was in an area so far away from my home, an area where I had never been, but still, the picture of the building and the entrance and the office itself had something intriguing., that vintage feel I was looking for, PLUS, it was in my budget! So I just HAD to see it. It took me almost 1 hour and a half to get here with public transport but as I was walking down the street to meet the real estate agent I was looking around and noticed that this area had a certain elegance to it, plus it was aperitivo time and all the bars and restaurants had their lights on and there was such a happy vibe in the air. Then I saw the building: it’s an apartment building from the 1930s, with a small courtyard at the entrance, and I was immediately hooked by all the plants (lemons anyone?? :D) hanging in the balconies and at the windows. I was even more hooked by the entrance hallway and then when I entered the office (which is actually an ex-apartment, at the ground floor) I just automatically started to imagine my dressmaking things and little salon furniture in all the rooms, and everything just fit perfectly with what I had imagined.
This was in the first days of October. I was not having great hopes of actually getting to have this place, it seemed too good to be true, because I was expecting the usual neighbors fuss about the sewing noise problem, but surprisingly the landlord was more than ok with all the features of my business (potential noise included), and, after a few days sending documents that would attest my capacity to make payments and all the rest, I finally got to sign the contract on October 16th. I must say that all the articles and interviews that appeared in the press and on TV during these years were of great help, because the landlord was utterly impressed with my story and this helped convince him that I was a good fit for the office.
That’s all for now, I’ll tell you about the whole adventure about moving in and setting up space in the next episode in a few days!