For fashion designer Brunello Cucinelli, sharing quality of life brings success of everything else.
There is something to be said about keeping cool under extreme pressure. The recession swept over the world like a tsunami, taking the fashion industry by storm and wiping out all those who couldn’t keep their heads above water.
I wanted to take a look inside a company that not only survived this crisis, but thrived. You will learn the secret to his success and if you’re smart, you will apply it to your daily life.
Brunello Cucinelli. Longevity. Seasonless. Fresh. I’m not only speaking about the brand, but also about the man behind the brand.
Mr. Cucinelli has been married to his wife Federica for 40 years (phew!). They live in a village in Umbria, Italy called Solomeo, where he is credited for largely restoring it after a devastating earthquake hit years ago.
His company dominates the economy in this town, and Mr. Cucinelli says that he follows the philosophy of Saint Benedict, which says, “to be a demanding teacher and a loving father”.
As with most of my columns, I’m always interested in how a great designer begins. Mr. Cucinelli began in his 20’s by making brightly colored women’s tunics out of wool, which was prominent in Umbria. He was inspired by the success of clothing line Benetton (still very popular today), and one of the many knitting factories in the area helped him manufacture his first 30 pieces.
Years later, he has built a village, an empire and quality. How did he do it? Patience and perseverance. He built a business rather than shying away in a time of crisis.
According to Giorgiana, (his Senior PR Director here in NYC), instead of letting his employees go during the hard times, he invested in them, promising not to lay anyone off during the times of financial crisis, but in return, asking for their most outstanding amount of efficient and creative energy to be used toward their work. He wrote letters to clients, asking them to maintain business with him even if they were not able to immediately pay. He took a risk based on an investment. Not only did this stand out and solidify relationships, it worked, setting the tone for the future. It was during this time of crisis and pleading that accessories, handbags, footwear and lifestyle pieces were introduced.
His philosophy for life mirrors the line – longevity, durability, classic with something special. Maybe it’s elbow pads on a cashmere sweater, or a grey mink. Either way, this understated, quiet luxury is what people seek to complete their lives and their wardrobes.
Some of the other lifestyle “rules” encourage employees to return home to their families at 6pm, eat lunch away from their desks, and take time to breath, such as in the library on the top floor of his NYC headquarters, or maybe playing some foosball in the magnificent kitchen while listening to classical music play softly from the surrounding speakers.
“I make sure we all work diligently and focused but at 6 pm, I want all my employees to go home to their families and loved ones because I think this way they will be more satisfied with their life. If I didn’t have time for my family, my adorable baby granddaughter, my friends, my soccer team and the books I love to read…I wouldn’t feel complete.” Says Mr. Cucinelli.
Sometimes, working in fashion, and especially in New York City, life can become a game of running against the clock, and we lose sight of ourselves and our real goals.
Mr. Cucinelli lives for success and quality; quality of life as well as his work. Let’s spread his secret of success, and mix the Italian and New York lifestyles – because after all, who says you can’t have your cake and eat it too?
To learn more, visit their website at Brunello Cucinelli
About the author:
Valeria Carrano is Fashion Director for Italia Living.
To learn more about her, visit our About Us page.