So, Caroline, let’s start with the name you gave the company: “Annamaria Brindicci”, a choice that is already a whole program.
It was very difficult to choose. At the beginning, we had come up with a lot of ideas: we had thought of a name in English that would also be suitable for foreign countries, or a name that would make you think about the concept of home. We liked all the ideas and it seemed difficult to choose one or the other. But then at a certain point we asked ourselves: what is it that drives the customer to come here in our showroom? The answer came naturally: Annamaria Brindicci, my mother. Customers choose her because of her reputation, her expertise, everything she has done well in her career. Because she has never taken advantage of a client, if she says that something cannot be done then it means that it cannot be done. She’s a straightforward woman who never seeks easy shortcuts.
Where does her competence come from?
Her reputation and preparation have been formed over time within a family business that she helped to found. Together
with her brother she started a business in a garage here in Terlizzi. They had a sub-staircase as an office, I think I can call it that. And it was precisely from that garage that one of the most important entrepreneurial realities in Puglia was born.
One day you decided to start again from scratch: you took the best of yourselves and you’ve put yourselves out there.
Today, this company is a dream that has come true. It’s a dream that all three of us have been keeping in our hearts for a long time. My sister and I have grown since we were little, observing my mother’s dedication to work, we looked at her commitment as something I would say poetic. We have always lived in our house in three. For so many times in our lives we also had to change homes. Every time, it was a fresh start. And yet, my mother always managed to make usfall in love again with that space: every time our life changed and again we felt that this was the most beautiful house of all. Every time we knew that it would not even be the last. On December 16, 2016, the day of his fiftieth birthday, during a dinner, she announced that she had signed for a new warehouse in the artisan area of Terlizzi.
How did you and Noemi react?
All the passion that she has passed on to us has led us to follow her in this dream. So it happened that my sister didn’t sign anymore that contract of employment for an important company in Rome (now our competitor) and I left my job as a freelancer in Milan in the world of marketing and communication.
So what did you do next?
If anyone asked me what was my first day of work in the company, I would reply 15 January 2017 in the living room of our house: customers, appointments, decision on the name to give the brand, training, it all started from the living room of our house. There, on the table where my mother, my sister and I had breakfast, there were computers, catalogues and samples. And always there, in the living room, we welcomed our first customers: it even happened to me that I had to open the door in my pyjamas and find myself in front of the customers asking to wait a few minutes to change clothes.
Can you tell me who your mother is?
Annamaria Brindicci is a very strong person who never loses her sweetness. You can immediately sense this aspect of her in both her private and professional life. If there is one thing she never fails, it is listening to the person in front of her, the ability to understand everything immediately. If you think you’re hiding something from her, you’re wrong because she’s already understood it.
Your employees are all women: what is this, a reverse form of marginalization?
The house is female. Everything in the house is sweetness, no matter who lives there.
Speaking of sweetness, we don’t know each other, but you give the impression of being a very sweet girl. Is there anything you took from your mother?
A lot of people tell me I’m sweet, I don’t really know where that sweetness comes from (she smiles, ed.). I am a very persuasive person. From my mother I definitely got the ability to understand people, listen to them and communicate with them. When I was in London I found myself working with very different people, I went from the princess of Kuwait who had to buy £1200 shoes for her and her sisters, to faceless clients to whom I had to sell something through teleselling. Different audiences, but with both I always found myself in my comfort zone. My mother is a person who can talk to all the people in the world and I learned this from her. I can’t say I’m a thoughtful person because I act with my heart.
Did you feel this “comfort zone”, as you call it, when you returned to Terlizzi? How is it here after having had important experiences in London and Milan?
I also had the desire to go home when I was in London. The routine in London or Milan had something cool. The truth is that life there wasn’t so easy. I worked all day long, I had three different activities, in the morning I worked in a luxury shop, in the evening I worked in an Argentinean restaurant and in the weekend I wrote articles for big Italian fashion brands. I had to pay for the house and I didn’t have time to say how beautiful London was. In Milan I had a completely different experience working in a trading and financial investment company: after a year there I realized that I had never seen the famous Navigli. I didn’t have time to go for walks. For me, going back to Terlizzi meant going home, being able to sit in front of the tv with someone, meet the people you love the most, not be alone anymore.
How is it to do business in Southern Italy, particularly in a city in the province?
It’s a very complex step and it’s an important investment also from an economic- financial point of view. But I must say that if you do your job well, word of mouth works: the people who come here to visit us are happy and their satisfaction makes our work much easier. I want to focus on this, I don’t need special advertising tools, I want people to talk about their experience with Annamaria Brindicci. This is the best business card for me.
Yours is the story of a girl who worked for others and suddenly found herself with a company of her own. Are you afraid sometimes of not being up to your mother’s expectations?
If before I was working to make other people’s dreams come true, today I feel the responsibility of having to work every day to make a dream come true that does not belong only to me, but is my mother and sister’s dream, too. The feeling of never being up to my mother is there and will be forever: as it happens to all the children of the world inside us remains a voice that reminds us that mom is always right.
What do you want to do when you grow up?
It’s a question I haven’t even answered myself yet, so I don’t think I can answer it now. Also because every day I change my mind about what I want to do when I grow up. My idea is definitely not that of opening many showrooms around the world, but rather I would like to bring the “concept” of what we do here in other areas … I think maybe, who knows, to an experiential b&b … I would like the name Annamaria Brindicci to become the example of experience.