The Directory: Cecilia Bringheli's steps to success [Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)]
(Gulf News (United Arab Emirates) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) It's hard to believe it's only been four years since Cecilia Bringheli and her brother Lorenzo decided to launch Cb Made in Italy, their quirky line of flat shoes. The idea then, says Bringheli, was to create simple yet elegant shoes for women that were practical and versatile, that could work during the day at work, as well as in the evening.
It worked. Initially self-funded, the 30-year-old's designs quickly caught the fancy of fashion-conscious men in Milan, where the brand is headquartered, which led to the launch of a men's collection. And then boom! The celebrities caught on. Cb shoes have now been spotted on every one from Madonna, Jessica Chastain to Adrien Brody. They recently made their Dubai debut at Level Shoe District at The Dubai Mall.
The Directory recently visited the Cb store in Milan and caught up with Bringheli to talk design, success and future plansâ€¦
Q: Tell us the story of Cb. Where did it all begin?
A: About four years ago, my brother and I got together and I explained to him my idea of creating some flat shoes of exquisite quality. Something that would remind to us of the flats that our mother always used to wear during summer times in Positano, Italy. Lorenzo, a fashion and portraits photographer, was based in NYC at the time and was really keen to see how this idea might develop. So, he financed it in the beginning, since banks in Italy would never support good ideas, and we started searching for a reliable artisan that might be interested in the project. We still work with the same artisan today.
Q: Why shoes?
A: Because I felt I could never find flats, besides ballerinas, that could be elegant and feminine, yet practical for a modern woman who might walk out the door in the morning and come back home after dinner and a long day at the office. So, I initially drew for myself this very simple model that could be comfortable and always right. After that, I had so many requests from men that we started to adapt the same model also to create a men's line to go together with the female one.
Q: Having a great idea is one thing. Was it difficult to get it off the ground?
A: Let's start by saying that producing in Italy is very challenging, because finding the best artisanal factory that understands the needs of a new brand and that would meet the quality requirements was very hard. But we have managed so far.
The most difficult part of our job is to fight against prices that can be charged by our competitors that produce in China or even in nearby Spain. But quality wins in the long run and we are fighting and doing our best to have the elegant people around the world knowing what we are doing.
Q: What would you credit your continuing growth to?
A: Word of mouth has been our only advertising for many years. We do not have any precise marketing, as our products are intended to be worn for a lifetime, and by generations. It's about a 20-year-old, leaving happily with her slippers and coming back with her mother the next day, then her brother, and fatherâ€¦ and family and friends.
The philosophy has always been â€˜let's make it in the best possible way, with all the best leathers, garments and craftsmanship. Then we will find customers who will understand what's gone into it and will become loyal to us'.
Q: How did you get all these celebrities to wear your shoes?
A: It was all very casual. I think people like our creations and understand the value of our quality, for which we make no compromise. And I think they appreciate the idea of someone young doing well without having a wealthy family or investors. I think people recognise the love and the intention behind the project and support us.
Q: Are celebrity endorsements important to you?
A: I'm not obsessed with celebrities wearing my shoes. I design for people, elegant people. I welcome a celebrity more as a person than thinking of her/his role in the society or show business. Even if Cb Made in Italy is not a â€˜celebrity-oriented' brand, it is, of course, very pleasant that people recognised by a wider audience wear them. Recently, Lapo Elkann (Italian entreperenuer) after trying a few pairs last season, ordered 20 pairs. Other registered VIPs so far include: Diane Kruger, Blake Lively, Madonna, Giovanna Battaglia, Margherita Missoni and Rosie Huntington.
Q: How did you end up in Dubai?
A: A friend of mine knew Alberto Oliveros, the buyer from Level Shoe District, and I asked his help to bring them to my Milan showroom while they were here for Fashion Week. This was two years ago. They stopped by, loved the collection and decided to retail it in Dubai.
Q: Tell us a little about your custom-made service?
A: Because we make hand-made shoes, we give private clients the opportunity to customise their own pair of shoes. You can choose the fabric, colour options, borders and lining. We also start customisation options through our website soon.
Q: Where would you like to take Cb?
A: We hope to grow our business step by step, winning the buyers of the best stores around the world. But all done with honesty, fun and integrity. Our future goal, in a sense, is to be in charge of tramandare il bello (preserving beauty).
(c) 2014 Al Nisr Publishing LLC . All rights reserved. Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (Syndigate.info).
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