I know what some reading this are thinking: here we go again, another dreamer… or even: someone else who wants to sell us something. But no, I simply want to tell my story and share some of my ideas about the future with whoever wants to listen.

About fifteen years ago, I was working in the hectic world of consultancy, with a new-born baby left in the hands of nannies and babysitters. The end of my relationship and a serious illness shook the very foundations of my existence. In the space of just a couple of years I had lost my family and my health, and with them the security that often comes from these fundamental aspects.
In this situation, I soon faced the inevitable re-evaluation of my professional life. What is it all for, Francesca? What is the point of continuing as before? I don’t know where the strength came from, but I quickly realised that I would have to start all over again.

I found a small office, a couple of colleagues, and just as many clients willing to put their trust in me. It was 2007 and I clearly remember the difficulties faced in those first few years, but I also remember the drive and the strong desire to build. That desire lies inside us, it can’t be ignored! However, it needs to be given space and direction in order to fly free, particularly in those moments of extreme difficulty when you feel like giving up instead of continuing to fight.

Over the years, I have often asked myself what the secret is to managing; what is the source of that positive energy that drives everything? How do we find the necessary strength and enthusiasm when the going gets rough? The answers came with experience, and the reason I now feel the need to share all this with others is because I have realised that we need to start with ourselves  and our personal experiences in order to face up to moments of crisis, such as the one we are experiencing now.

In an initially vague manner, which gradually became ever more defined, I began to visualise my dream, a dream that was transformed into inspiration through a series of fortunate encounters. Over the first ten years of my working life, every act, the way in which things were done, in which priorities were established… in short, everything, seemed to be oriented exclusively by profit, with little consideration for people. The only exception to this so-called “normality” came when encountering some rare soul with an evidently different mindset and values. They all had two things in common: the ability to listen, and creativity.

Perhaps I had my own natural inclination, but these encounters undoubtedly drove me to read and study, in an attempt to understand if the success that any business by definition has to aim for can be achieved in a different way, focusing on ability, passion and talent… the objective was therefore clear to me: to choose the right people with whom to move forward.

2008: the couple of colleagues I mentioned before, 10,000 euros in share capital – the only savings I had… – and a number of clients that could easily be counted on one hand. But that hand was not enough for long, as the number of clients grew to 10, then 30, then 50… and now there are more than 200, and the team has grown as well, to the point that – counting employees and external collaborations – there are now around thirty of us.

How did all of this happen? How would I like things to continue? I have had time to think, and I have no doubts as to what the factors for starting over are, beyond the skills that clearly need to be present and well-developed… Visionfaithcreativitymethod: these are the factors that are vital for success!

We can only recover if we have vision, in other words the ability to imagine a different future. We need new business models, the worst we could do is go back to how things were before, it would make all that we have been through, and are still going through, worthless!

Do we really still want to let ourselves be conditioned by the media, to accept values that are not worthy of the name, based as they are on empty declarations of intent devoid of any true foundation? Do we really want to continue thinking we are “someone” because of what we own? Do we really, in all conscience, want to go back to producing without worrying about those who work for us, about their training, their aspirations for professional growth and having their merits recognised, with access to fair pay? Do we still want to waste water and energy resources, continuing to produce waste that we no longer know what to do with, and use – more or less willingly – chemical substances that are harmful to our health and to the environment? Where has this behaviour got us so far? What satisfaction has it brought us?

I believe that everything needs to be reconsidered. I believe that every single one of us now has the opportunity to make their own contribution, be it small or large, to creating a new model of development.

How is value produced? This is the question we need to ask ourselves! Not because sustainability is trendy, but because this is the fundamental goal. If the value that we as businesspeople produce could be better distributed among those that help to create it, we would gain a team, and true satisfaction, the kind that makes you happy to get up in the morning, and sends you to bed with a smile on your face.

The owner – or shareholders – provide the capital and take the business risks, the management provides leadership, the staff apply their skills and dedication, the suppliers offer flexibility, the community provides the necessary availability and support, the State the tools to protect the system… everyone has a role to play, all working together to create something new and make objects that last over time, with levels of sustainability capable of reducing impact on the environment, produced to be reused, developed to take advantage of new forms of energy… The time is now, not in twenty- or ten-years’ time! Right now!

The world of fashion, of which I feel an active and conscious part, needs to change, integrating ethics into business, and the protection of the environment and people into profit. This is even more true in a market that is ever-more demanding in terms of risk managementbuilding of trust e reputation protection.

The way has been paved: use resources responsibly, make a single product that is acceptable for as many people as possible and do it together, if possible, because the best results come from collaborationopen up to others, encouraging transparency, because this is the only way we can protect each other; encourage everyone to ensure that true commitment is rewarded, change the distribution of value which is still too concentrated towards the end of the chain.

As I mentioned earlier, my recent journey became inspiration thanks to a series of encounters, and then developed into a project thanks to important collaborations and a team that I am very proud of. We have achieved and done so much together. I want to continue in this direction, but with a change of pace, revolutionising, if necessary, the way that work is organised, the way that collaborators and suppliers are rewarded, the way products and services are developed.

We are now faced with a great opportunity and our priorities are clear. We need to analyse our business model, identify factors for change – the substitution of raw materials, the revision of processes, smart resources, safe factories, optimised logistics, data management… – and set out implementation programmes that allow us to transform manufacturing models, in some respects immediately, in others over time. I say that, together, we can do it! If we give it all we’ve got, we can succeed!