Meet il Maglificio di Andrea e Figli
Alessandro, Artknit's Founder, had the chance to spend a day with one of our makers, Andrea and his team, in his workshop in Cesena, Italy to talk about his story and the future of craftsmanship.
Hi Andrea, it’s so nice to see you again! Before starting, could you please tell us how everything started?
Hi guys, it’s so nice to have you here! Well, the workshop was founded by my parents in the 1970’s, then I took over the family business in 1998 but I’ve been doing this job for almost forty years now.
When my parents got married, they decided to open their own business because my mum was a knitwear artisan - I literally mean that, she was working with manual machines in the basement of our house. My dad admired her passion, so he decided to invest in her work. All of a sudden, he bought all the professional equipment and they started a real business together.
While I was working there, my wife Manuela came looking for a job on her vespa together with her mum. My family really liked her so they pushed us to work together in the ironing room, and after a few months we fell in love and we got married. Since that day, we’ve never been apart from each other.
"Someone said that if you are really passionate about what you are doing, you are going to make other people enthusiastic too. That’s the spirit that me and my wife want to share with our team."
And what do you have in mind for the future of the workshop?
Now that my parents are no more in the business, My wife and I are fully dedicated to this job: we actually consider this workshop our third child!
In the future, we want our two sons to take over the business, since they always used to work with us during summertime. We were lucky that, during that time, they became truly passionate about machine programming.
One of our sons, Daniele, is already head of the department and he owns part of the share of the company. We want to make them feel part of the team as much as possible.
Someone said that if you are really passionate about what you are doing, you are going to make other people enthusiastic too. That’s the spirit that me and my wife want to share with our team: being enthusiastic and bringing positive vibes every day, in order to inspire the workshop and make them feel well about what they’re doing and working towards the same goals.
How many people work here?
We’re a team of 22 people in total coming from different generations and backgrounds, but our passion is the same.
For example, Antonella has been working with my family for 48 years now, and she has a hard time detaching herself from this job since she likes it so much. She is a hard-worker, but what matters the most is that she loves what she does and she is the pillar of the team.
The group is quite big, but I decided to invest in human capital because I wanted to build a vertically integrated workshop in which every step is managed, controlled and made inside the workshop: from the knitting, to the sewing, up to the washing and ironing. That’s how we can guarantee a superior quality every single day.
As the innovation progresses, the rules of manufacturing are evolving. What does Made in Italy mean to you and to the workshop?
Made in Italy for us is not just a label, it’s a philosophy that guides all of our production: it’s a specific way of working with a keen eye for details and keeping up with the times, without forgetting where it all started.
Unfortunately, in Italy there are fewer and fewer knitting factories because the labor cost is too high compared to eastern countries and traditional clients aren’t willing to pay more for the quality of their pieces.
For this reason, we only work with selected partners that share our values and vision, because they know that for us Made in Italy is also a symbol of sustainability. We want to keep doing things at the right times in the right way, respecting the people and the environment around us.
What has encouraged you to join our project?
When you first called me I was a little doubtful, since you guys were so young and had a completely different perspective on this industry. I didn’t believe in how you guys wanted to change the traditional way of doing things by selling directly from the makers, but then I had to change my mind.
When we started the collaboration, I realized that working with young people means working for the future and that it’s important to give trust to the younger generations.
How do you see knitting and craftsmanship in the future? How should it evolve or change in order to maintain a role in the future society?
Unfortunately, statistics are not on our side. They’re showing that in 5-6 years there will be no more workforce to do this job. Hopefully, that won't be the case.
My wife always says that if our generation gives up, how can we expect the younger generations to follow our steps?
We have to educate and guide these kids in order to keep it alive and facilitate generational change. We believe that every workshop’s owner in Italy should focus on this challenge. We have a responsibility here, and if we don’t focus on that, craftsmanship and Made in italy’s know-how could disappear sooner than we expect.