We talked to Emanuele Briganti of GUIDOMAGGI about elevator shoes and here is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Emanuele Briganti: It’s definitely been a challenging time for the industry, and our family business was no exception. We had to adapt in many ways adjusting procedures and adopting strict protocols and safety measures in both our factory and showrooms to ensure that we could continue to produce our bespoke elevator shoes and accessories safely. That said, our growth since the very beginning has been driven by a deep passion for what we do, which made us even more resilient in this difficult period and motivated us even more to push the limits of development and creativity.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded GUIDOMAGGI.
Emanuele Briganti: I started my career as a fashion model in my 20’s, working as a model for Giorgio Armani, among others. This is a period of my life that I enjoyed very much because fashion is something that I am very passionate about.
One thing was holding me back, though, and that was the fact that I was 1.75 tall, and that was an issue for me to be a runway model, so I was in a way limited to photoshoots. This is the time when the idea of creating a bespoke elevator shoe brand started popping up in my head. Shoemaking is something that runs in our family since my great grandfather, Guido Maggi, was an expert shoemaker who created pieces for the royalty, so this project felt like a really natural step to me.
The elevator shoes available at the time were mostly made in China, and the quality was terrible, so I realized that there was not a high-end alternative in the market for those who wanted to walk in style while gaining a few inches in height, that is when my brand started taking shape.
How does GUIDOMAGGI innovate?
Emanuele Briganti: I feel that innovation is key to the growth and success of any brand, so from the very beginning, I set up an R&D team that focuses on creativity not only on the fashion side, which is very important of course, but also in all the aspects of production which allows us to be constantly evolving in terms of the materials and procedures that we use in the creation of our elevator shoes and accessories. As part of this innovation process, we recently launched a brand new website, which you can see at https://www.guidomaggi.com/
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Emanuele Briganti: Unfortunately, this very sudden situation with the Covid-19 virus has affected us in a big way since consumer behavior changed radically as a result of this. Tourism also came to a complete stop, so the impact was not only felt on our online platforms but also in our showrooms like Milan. As difficult as this period has been, we feel that it also represents an opportunity to be part of a new beginning in many ways, and it only increased our energy and efforts to provide the best and most exclusive elevator shoes in the world today more than ever.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Emanuele Briganti: We have to make difficult choices every day. It does, as we say, come with the territory for an entrepreneur these days. I believe that we learn until the very last days of our lives, so what’s most important in my view is to capitalize on the experience that we acquire in the process of making hard choices in a way that the right decision comes more naturally every time. The biggest mistake is to believe that we know it all and choices will always be simple for us because we deal with constant changes on many levels, so we have to try and be prepared for as many different scenarios and outcomes as possible.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Emanuele Briganti: As an entrepreneur, I always try to find balance. What I do is my passion; every product that we make, every customer who gets in touch with us to tell us how much they loved their custom made shoes fill me with pleasure. There is, however, a stress level that comes from very long working days (I sometimes work as much as 18 hours per day) and many other factors, and that needs to be managed as much as possible because this not only reflects on oneself but impacts the people around us as well. I feel very blessed to have my father, Giuseppe Briganti, and my sister Chiara as the company’s chairman and public relations manager, respectively. This is a huge relief in terms of delegating and trusting that things are being handled in the most efficient manner possible. Then, of course, it is important to always try and take the time to develop our physical and mental state by doing activities such as Yoga, something I have done for many years and allows me to keep things in perspective and to detox from the daily problems that we all face.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Emanuele Briganti: One interesting thing about our business is that even today, after many years in this market, we still have no real competitors. By this, I mean any companies that offer truly luxury Italian bespoke elevator shoes with the level of quality and craftsmanship that we do. There are many companies that offer elevator shoes that are mass-produced for the most part in China, resulting in very low-quality products that not only have a very short usable life span but also bring really bad consequences to their users in terms of posture and comfort. So with this in mind, we strive every day to provide the best overall client experience because we believe that ultimately they count on us to provide elevator shoes that are truly unique and luxurious.
Your final thoughts?
Emanuele Briganti: We are living in very particular times that, without a doubt, will impact the world in ways that we’re still trying to understand. As I mentioned earlier, it is also a unique opportunity to reach out to our resilient nature and see this as an opportunity to start working towards an even better chapter of our lives. The made in Italy brand that we are proud to offer is timeless, and as many other times in history will see these tough times come and go, giving place to a renewed energy and ideas for new products and developments. Our commitment to ultimate quality and luxury is as high as ever. An integral part of what we are trying to achieve now and in the future is to help people understand the value of purchasing truly luxury bespoke products that are not mass-produced with extremely poor quality like many others, which also use strong chemicals that not only are negative for the customer’s health but also leave a very negative footprint on the planet.
https://www.guidomaggi.com/ for the worldwide market
https://www.guidomaggi.it/ for the Italian market