April 11, 2017

First stop - Como, Italy



Down a quiet street in a small village just on the border of Como is where you will find the heart of our operation, our family run workshop, our ditta. Our workshop has been within our family since Nonna started the whole thing herself some 50 years ago. She moved away from the sunshine of her home in Sicily and made her way up North to Como for bigger and better things. There, in the basement of her home, she started to craft artisanal ties by hand. Soon enough, her son Giuseppe joined her during her craft and after enough time learning Giuseppe attempted to make his very first tie with his own hands. Then and there Giuseppe had found his niche and grew to love and master the craft.

After the basement got too small and her business was picking up Nonna decided to upgrade. She opened up the first family Laboratorio in 1979. From that point on it’s been history, family history to be exact. Giuseppe joined the Laboratorio from the beginning right by his mother’s side and never looked back. Now, some 50 years after the first Laboratorio openedwe have moved into a newer and bigger sustainable workshop, increased our team from Nonna alone to a group of artisans, and a third generation of family has joined the business. Though time has passed and logistical changes have occurred with our Laboritorio the manner of which our business is done has not changed, it still runs with the same passion and care as Nonna ran it on her first day.

Our workshop now has a team of 15 artisans who have been the caring and skilfull hands carefully crafting our pieces for many years. As we craft a collection of varied products each and everyone of our artisans has a crucial job to do which requires the skills of a true artisan.

When you enter the workshop you’ll first be greeted by a wall of photos from various travel destinations all over the world. If you look closer you will see that these are all family holiday photos. You couldn’t have expected a family factory to not have some make-you-blush childhood photos out for everyone to see.

After turning the corner you will find yourself looking at the lines of desks and work tables covered with colourful fabrics and tools. Organization is essential in this business but, let's be honest, this is easier said than done. After weaving through the sewing machines and other tools you’ll find a wall full of fabric rolls. You'll find fabric from years ago, brand new fabrics, one of a kind fabrics, last of their kind fabrics, and everything in between. Perhaps you could see this as hoarding but this is far from the case, this collection is more like a museum showcasing fabrics throughout time, making for a great stock for us to upcycle in our pieces instead of the fabric being wasted.

This concept of upcycling materials is just one of the ways we bring sustainability into our workshop. We've also installed solar panels to power our entire workshop, we work as much as possible with our hands versus machines, and we have a small garden around our factory to bring some much-needed greenery to the workshop neighboorhood. As opposed to the usual far away factories and long distance shipments, our dedication to using solely local materials and producers allows us to go and meet our producers face to face and bring home our products ourselves, which is greener and much more personable in the long run! 

Behind the museum of fabrics, you’ll find the knitting part of our workshop. Shelves of spindles of various threads of vivid colours take up the majority of this section. There are 14 knitting machines total in our workshop. Each one of these machines crafts unique knits that can only be reproduced by that specific machine, using specific mechanical codes designed and implemented by our artisans. After the machine is done knitting, the product is inspected and all the following production steps are done by hand. 

Walking through our workshop is something of a sensory overload; with all of the varied colours, fabrics, machines, tools, artisans, materials and of course our family golden retriever, Whiskey! There's no way we could introduce our family factory without giving a moment of appreciation to Whiskey. He keeps smiles on everyone's faces and is a big ball of love and tail wags that has won Employee of the Month every month since 2007.

We hope you enjoyed your tour of our workshop. Watch this space for more Meet The Artisans features introducing you to all our artisan workshops as well as more specific posts on the crafts themselves.


The 40 Colori Team 

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