First of all, how are you and your family in this period of COVID-19 emergency?
“Well thank you. Like everyone else, we were worried about both the health danger and, as a startup , the economic damage. It must be said slowly, but it seems that the worst is behind us so we are starting to be more relieved”.
Can you tell us about yourself, your career and how this business idea was born?
” Rifò was born from my last experience of working in Vietnam for the UN where I was involved in cooperation and development projects. Here I saw with my own eyes the problem of overproduction affecting the clothing sector. The streets of Hanoi are full. of shops with the name ‘ Made in Vietnam ‘ that sell all clothing produced in Vietnam , exported to the West , not sold in Europe and sent back to Vietnam so as not to lower the prices of the Western market: it is absurd! even in Vietnam they are not destined for incineration.
With this awareness in mind, I decided to return to Italy , to Prato . So I took up a tradition from Prato, that of regenerating old ‘rags’ to make new yarn. From a career in international organizations I have completely changed course and today I work for my sustainable fashion startup “.
How does your company innovate?
“Taking up an ancient textile tradition, made of saving resources and with low environmental impact and proposing it as the protagonist of a new green textile economy.
Once at the base of the activity of the textile district of Prato, the skills of the cenciaioli are now in danger of being lost due to the absurd economic rhythms of the textile and fashion industry, for which producing new materials costs less than recycling or regenerating them. However, we must begin to be guided by common sense and not only and solely by profit: this is the most important innovation “.
How does the COVID-19 pandemic affect your business and how are you coping with this crisis?
“Having no internal production and having chosen small local businesses, we depend on the impacts that Covid has also had on them. At the same time, the choice of working with children, all within a radius of 30 km away and favoring the system of pre-sale compared to the storage of a lot of goods in the warehouse makes us agile and flexible. We are adapting to these new rhythms because we are a small company that was born recently “.
Have you had to make difficult choices in this emergency situation? And what are the lessons learned?
“Yes, we certainly had to pause some ongoing collaborations due to the uncertainty of the situation and to be able to guarantee the required level of security. processes were not active at that time, this taught us that by explaining the reasons well, the latter are willing to wait and listen “.
How do you manage stress and anxiety during this time and how do you project yourself and your company into the future?
“We try to plan with a short time horizon, evaluating the situation every day and making decisions with the utmost flexibility and agility in order to avoid unforeseen or uncontainable situations. We will try to implement this operating philosophy also for the future by combining them with medium-long term strategies term”.
Who are your competitors and how do you plan to outdo the competition?
“In Italy there are still not many competitors in the sustainable fashion sector and above all in regenerated materials. Abroad, especially in northern Europe, much more moves. However, we believe that we have a strong point above all: the possibility of having our artisans in our textile district with a very wide range of production choices. In Prato you can really find a lot of micro-enterprises specialized in a particular technique, which gives us the opportunity to reduce our impact on the planet, but also to be creative and create a quality product “.
Your final thoughts on this emergency?
“I think that this emergency, despite its negative impacts, has re-taught us a very important value for our economy: proximity. It means going to the artisan in the neighborhood, buying from the greengrocer close to home. I hope this value will continue in future years as well. “.
Jetèe cashmere blanket video: https://www.rifo-lab.com/coperta-cashmere-jetee/