This post isn’t what you think. I didn’t get into a fight, or a divorce 😀 I just wanted to write and tell you all my deep secrets and what I did concerning Italy and it’s workforce. As most of you probably know I used to teach English…It kind of just happened that way and I fell into this spiral of what happens to Americans that move to Italy and THINK they’ll get a job in line with their previous profession. WRONG. When you get to Italy you WILL as a fact have major setbacks and I’m looking at your pockets sister. No job means no mulah, and no mulah means no standard of living like you’re used to back in SoCal.
After working as a teacher getting paid under the table (as most people do in Italy because..well, we’ll get to that in another post) and having horrible hours, never a fixed contract but a temporary 8 month contract that left me scared shitless every May if I was going to have an income or not I said to hell with this. I ain’t workin for no Italian company mafia-style no more. It’s not like I just had one bad experience in 3 years. The whole time I was teaching I was looking for another job, going to interviews and being told “well you don’t have any experience” or “oh you’re perfect for the job” then being hired for a month to do translation work (which wasn’t why I was hired) and then being left off after a month because they made a mistake in hiring me and realised they actually didn’t have the time to train personnel. WHATEVER. I hated that place and they are still a small company.
So I continued teaching in my demise knowing I had so much more to give. Before leaving the States I was practically secure for a job with the FBI…but here I was defending my country in the middle of the boonies of Italy explaining that I do in fact speak English, not “American” and we’re not all outlaws..”what have the British been telling you??” Well I quit that nonsense real quick. I started my own online business. I’m better off starting my own job, paying myself what I think I deserve, and actually earning social security like I should be.
I started up my online store on Etsy last Friday. My store is called Hott Knots and you can visit it here. I sell modern home decor items like rugs, and Christmas stockings at the moment. Most of my items are crochet or sewn items, hence Knots.
Etsy is so underrated. They really have a great platform for people starting up and teach people how to operate a business. Anyways it took me a year before actually opening to start this up because opening a business in a foreign country is a whole other ball game. Who do I pay taxes to? Who do I collect social security from? Do I pay taxes to Italy when selling internationally or to the State where the buyer lives? How do I get a business discount when purchasing supplies? There were a million things to figure out, piano piano (slowly slowly) as they say in Italian. After learning about all these little details and finding out that the European Union doesn’t mean anything when it comes to business I feel like I could write a book.
Unfortunately Italy doesn’t make things too easy for small businesses. Sales tax alone is 22% compared to Florida where I come from which is 7%. Sales tax is charged where the vendor is when thinking European wide, not dependable where the buyer lives unlike in the US.
I need a tax identification number (partita iva) as a business in order to collect social security benefits and have vendor discounts in Italy however it comes with a hefty fee of 300 euro a month plus fees you pay your commercialist (accountant), and 5% of your income to tax. For starting up I’d go bankrupt! Thankfully the threshold for selling online is 65,000 euro before absolutely needing a Partita Iva for legal reasons.
The local post office called the Poste doesn’t GIVE businesses boxes and supplies they need like they do in the USA. There is no automatic shipping label generator like we have in the golden land. The Poste doesn’t even sell boxes and envelopes and basic shipping supplies for businesses, they have a very limited selection.
Another aspect of operating a business out of Italy that is challenging is dealing with Italian suppliers. Italian companies are unique among all because of their culture of relaxedness! Everything can wait till tomorrow, emails don’t really need to be answered, websites don’t need to have correct and up to date information, and when it’s vacation time just forget about it until 8 weeks from now. This is definitely not an exaggeration. It’s unfortunate and makes me sad that I actually have to reach out to a non-Italian supplier to make my Made in Italy products because I need someone who is dependable. Italian suppliers are just not dependable and worse don’t understand the concept of time.
Understanding Made in Italy was another whirlwind of experiences. A local Venetian vendor told me that to have Made in Italy on your products there is a yearly fee, someone comes out and does quality checks on your products, and there is a big registration process..etc. I then talked to a professional who evaluates Made in Italy frauds and I found out none of that information was true. It is a coined term, but that doesn’t mean there is a fee and quality checks. It’s much more simple than I imagined. If the final stages of your production is in fact in Italy then you qualify for a Made in Italy product. If someone doubts you then at that time you would get a certificate from your local city hall stating your authentication. Wow, I was actually a little disappointed when I found out how un-involved it all was. A year ago when I asked my father-in-law who designs shoes for Dolce & Gabbana what the process was he said “you just write it on there, that’s it!” I thought he was crazy but he was right.
It’s been a whirlwind, but I take things piano piano and have really learned to just conquer one thing at a time.