Entrepreneur Vera Tucci divides her life and her heart between Italy, her home country, and the US, where her innovative e-commerce venture is quickly gaining roots.
Italisan (www.italisan.com), physically based in Albu-querque, New Mexico, but owned and managed by Vera and her team, enables North Americans to purchase wonderful, one of a kind artisan products, from the comfort of their homes with just a mouse’s click.
Italisan features also a blog, in which you can hear directly from the craftsmen their interesting stories and get a glimpse on their unique creative processes.
Let’s hear more from Italisan’s founder, Vera Tucci.
Please, introduce yourself. What did you study?
I took a degree in Political Science and was trained to become a social worker. Upon graduation I was offered a position as a sales representative at a tech company.
That was my first entrepreneurial experience, in which I contributed to the establishment of that company.
How and when you developed your fascination for the United States?
My fascination for the US goes back to my high-school years. I remember how, on the first day of high school, our English teacher asked each of us to introduce ourselves in English.
She looked at me and told me: “I think that you have English in your blood and you should do something about that.”
I felt extremely happy about the teacher’s praise, cause I had definitely not been a straight A’s student in English, during middle school.
That episode gave me the boost to fully immerse myself into English and American pop culture, history and traditions.
As I grew up, I had the chance to travel extensively across the United States, not only for vacation, but also with the goal of establishing new business connections on behalf of my company.
My visits in the US have been reinforcing my fascination for this country and have urged me to start a new business here.
That is, “Italisan.” Where the idea behind your company come from?
I was looking to create something able to combine my love for the United States with my passion for Italian craftsmanship.
I started to think about a way, either a store, a trade-show or similar, in which products made by Italian artisans could find a way into the North American market.
A website, where Americans could purchase the unique Italian artisan creations, resulted as the logical outcome. “Italisan” was finally born!
On top of the fact that a virtual store eliminates any geographical restriction, my intention was to create a platform that could tell the stories behind the products.
Thereby, our blog relates the unique pathways that led each of our artisans to imagine, design, and realize their works.
In our era of mass-production, we tend to give everything for granted and we’re losing the curiosity for the imaginative processes behind the things we use daily.
How do you and your team search for companies that truly care for the quality and authenticity of their products?
Personal relationships are key to us. They are facilitated by the fact that we belong to the same business circles and associations as the Italian artisans.
We know these craftsmen’s values and ethical principles and how they make themselves ambassadors for the same high standards.
We involve the artisans directly in the creation of Italisan’s ethical guidelines. Therefore, we offer our customers products, in compliance with our ethical, quality and fair labor regulations.
In your opinion, where does the success of Italian craftsmanship come from?
It comes from the pernickety attention to detail that an artisan puts to his or her work. Artisans focus on one item at a time, usually working with hands, or operating light machinery.
That’s at the antipodes of mass-production, in which items are depersonalized and assembled somewhere across the globe.
Since the first “Week of Italian Cuisine in the World” just ended and there’s been extensive discussion about the authenticity of Italian food in the US, please tell us how does Italisan helps promoting “Made in Italy” food products?
We’re still working towards the expansion of our e-store’s food section. We need to partner with a different kind of artisans and suppliers.
The search for the right people and companies requires time, considering all the regional and sub-regional varieties.
Our main goal is to offer one-of-a kind food products, impossible to find anywhere else.
Sometimes, people in the US have a hard time imagining how Italy has been evolving and modernizing itself. To you, how important is to spread an up-to-date image of our country?
It’s very true, partly because we’re bombarded online by news telling us how actually our country is not developed.
Besides, our traditions and rich history hold a lot of fascination abroad and they are “louder” than our contemporary innovations. It’s certainly harder to promote the other side of Italy, made up of great scientific developments. However, we must undertake this challenge, invest more in communication and offer the full picture.
Support L’Italo-Americano Foundation through its fundraising efforts that allow us to promote and preserve the Italian culture and heritage in the US. Enter to win fantastic prizes Including a vacation in Florence. (20% will be donated to the “I Love Norcia” association to support the reconstruction of the town, dramatically hit by the recent earthquake).