Well my 5 years of living in Italy is coming up. I think I’ve got a hang on things, I know the ropes, I know that a place like Michaels craft store non esiste. A place like Jo-Anns or Hobby Lobby non esiste neanche (don’t exist either). As everyone knows from my previous posts I’m trying to start up my online store of home decor in Italy and the challenges are many because I make these products myself. I have to find individual suppliers who are most likely mom-and-pop shops around Italy that will tell you to come back in a month because they’re closing down for vacation in August (real story). Unlike the average American crafter who just walks into Hobby Lobby and everything they can imagine is available I’ve got to hunt and then deal with the fact that they might not produce it anymore even if it’s in the store display window. I thought I had it by now, I know where to go in my little town of Casarano but then I just up and moved to Sicily (military wife life…let’s just make that a thing MWL) and now I’m back to zero. The first year I had to figure out how to even say the word “craft” in Italian in order to explain this to my mother-in-law hoping she could direct me to the right places. My husband…forget it, I know more words than he does in any realm of Italian female talk. So my life is challenging. I still don’t really know how to say the word craft, so I just say “non sai? quei negozi fai da te?” (you know, those DIY stores?) I’m in Florida right now visiting my parents and I’ve been gawking at all the DIY stores jealous that I can’t have these things available to me or have it easy…
I know, I know….I chose this life, I chose to move overseas, but I just can’t help to feel jealous of my own country and scared of the high competition I’ll have. If you want it hard enough then you’ll make it happen right? That’s been my life survival motto lately. So my search for a yarn and fabric supplier was one of the first things I had to do. I walked into this yarn shop in July and they said “oh we’re out of that yarn, we’ll have to order that around September” Total shock on my face “September?????” if I’ve got a future client waiting on a product I can’t just tell them to wait a few months till September! This was the beginning of my realization about dealing with Italian companies and mom-n-pop shops. I can’t depend on them, I knew right then and there I sadly had to find a non-Italian supplier.
Thank God I now know how to be autonomous in that area, now I’m trying to figure out how to find a packaging supplier that I can depend on! I could just ask people for their boxes that they no longer use like most Italians do, but I need to be 100% sure I’ll always find boxes, so I’m searching for that.
It’s one thing after another, figuring out taxes, costs for shipping out of Italy and how to make that as affordable as possible. There are a million little things to think about and deal with.
BUT…..In between it all, here is what’s going on in my life. We just moved to Sicily as my husband takes command of a ship for a year. Here we are at his change of command ceremony
The baby sleeps while mommy makes samples
This is one of my Christmas stockings in the making
When I’m not crocheting or sewing for the business I’m making gifts or other things for my life. I just finished making a matching Navy hat for my baby that goes with his dad’s Navy hat
That was something I whipped up. There are always lots of mini projects between making my samples that I get caught up doing.
Here we are before taking off for our flight to the States to visit family for the holidays
So for this month that I’m away in the States I’ll be reading about Italian law and taxes, how to get certified “Made in Italy” branding on my products, if I really need to apply for a business tax identification number or not and other things related to business in Italy. So far I’ve found one helpful website that is also written in English called the European Commission (ec.europa.eu) which lists VAT rates for all EU countries.
During my week of research I’ve found info related to packaging supplies and where to get those. Amazon.it sells packaging supplies, the Italian Poste, and several online companies (most sites are in Italian although there were German sites as well). I feel most comfortable with Amazon because I know they’re reputable, so I’ll most likely go with them.
As far as the “Made in Italy” thing goes, my only experience with that was talking to a vendor in Venice who was selling these amazing hand carved wooden Giuseppe and Pinocchio puppets. He told me there are yearly fees for “Made in Italy” branding, there is a person who comes out and certifies that your products are made in fact IN ITALY, they do quality checks on the materials etc…He told me that the materials themselves do not need to be Italian, “basta che sono fatto in italia” (it’s enough that they’re just made in Italy) but I’m not sure how true that is. My father-in-law who works with Dolce & Gabbana told me that over half of D&G products are shipped out of Italy to be made, then shipped back into Italy to be finished off (all the materials are Italian materials however) and so their products are “made in Italy” although most of the production process is not. That’s his experience, now if you talk to the average Italian on the streets they’ll say “why do the materials even have to be Italian? You make these things Jessica, they’re made here in Italy, that’s it!” These are my Italian friends of course, but I know it can’t be that simple.
Just writing this gives me stress. I think it’s time to go get a PSL (pumpkin spice latte). That’s actually a coined term now.