Italy is a remarkable country where certain stories seem to sum up an entire age, capturing in a nutshell the energy and courage of a glorious creativity, calling attention to a unique talent for invention and all the magic of an enterprising spirit. They are extraordinary stories that unfold quite normally, day by day. Giuliana Marchini, age 15, lived in the town of Cattolica where her father Luigi had set up a small transport company after many years of hard work and sacrifice. Times were difficult in Italy back in the 1950s, people did without. And the family of this curious and lively girl who had clear ideas about the future could not afford to pay for her education. She’d learn a trade she thought. She’d follow the example of her neighbor and become a knitter, using lovely yarns to craft sweaters with her hands on a machine.
Getting the hang of the technique proved easy, but what about turning it into a way to fulfill her biggest dream, that of achieving economic independence with a career and a livelihood of her own? According to Italian tradition, she asked for help from her folks. Luigi Marchini, who knew how to evaluate both a business project and his daughter’s ambitions, did not hesitate to guarantee a loan from the Credito Romagnolo bank so she could buy a knitting machine.
A STARTUP COMPANY
The newly acquired device – the first of many – ended up in the living room at home. Then other girls came along to give her a hand, for the work had evolved into a neverending job, from six a.m. to midnight, knitting the items and then washing them (in the family clothes-washer, naturally).
Once word got around about the young knitter who made sweaters to measure, she found herself with a long list of customers. Soon she also began receiving orders from fancy clothing shops, among others Chic Parisien in Rimini. Thanks to rave reviews on the part of satisfied customers, Giuliana embarked on her entrepreneurial path. She extended her distribution network into the Romagna and Emilia areas of Italy, then with the aid of sales representatives into other regions of the country too. At that point she felt compelled to make a real quality leap and put together a sample collection. In other words, rather than creating custom pullovers for individual clients, she had to start manufacturing and delivering items on a vast scale. The imaginative hometown knitter became a businesswoman. A small one perhaps, yet as she had always dreamed a businesswoman.
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