Lia Russo from Salerno - a nice town in South Italy, right on the sea - runs Ghirlandiamo shop making floral wreaths.
When did you turn your craft into a business?
It was only a hobby, now it's a full time job!
In the greatest Italian poem “Divine Comedy”, by Dante Alighieri, he wrote about a girl named Lia, who was crafting a wreath: my name is Lia, I’m …no longer a girl, but I’m fond of wreaths!
Latins were used to say “In nomen omen”: so in my name my destiny!
For many years I filled up my friends' homes and mine with my wreaths and a lot of different decorations. When relatives and friends could probably not stand my gifts anymore .... they suggested me to sell them!
How did you come up with a name for your store?
My shop’s name, I’m very proud of, is Ghirlandiamo. In Italian it’s a sort of “let’s make a wreath”.
I know for foreign people it’s not easy to pronounce it, but by contrast my name, Lia, is very short and easy to remember. The reason of that name is because, among different decorations I work on, I prefer - with no doubt - crafting wreaths! But besides that, I also create unique centerpieces, jewel-boxes, decorated baskets, mixed media wall decors wedding favors, and so on.
How did you start selling on Etsy?
Etsy is the best marketplace in the world for handmade, so when I finally decided to transform my creativity skills and my experience into a real job, I soon realized that passion and creativity were not enough: to really make a professional improvement l had to raise the bar to professional attitude and highest quality materials.
Now my decors are the final result of creativity, manual skills, passion and professionalism too.
Do you talk to your customers? Do you run your website or blog, social media?
I love talking with people and having dialogues with customers, even with occasional buyers. I don’t like anonymous sales.
I have two ways of selling: people can buy the ready products in my online shop or can ask me for a custom product.
I love when people talk to me about their desires. I elaborate the elements they give me, then I propose my idea and soon they say “you perfectly got what l was thinking about!”.
This always gives me great satisfaction and motivation to work harder!
But even when people buy something directly from my shop, I immediately prepare the shipping, but never forgetting to add a tiny gift and a handwritten card with thanks and greetings from Italy.
I have my own site, where I talk about my experience and my working process, but for sales people are redirected to Etsy.
Selling online gives me so much to do on socials!
I’m heavily involved in social media, most of all in those ones most indicated to my products and my personality.
Oh, if I could hire a social media manager! Haha, that’s my dream!
What’s your most favorite product?
From nature I capture not only ideas, but also the materials it offers, reworking them according to my fantasy.
The natural materials I generally use are bamboo, burlap, dried flowers and leaves, branches, rope, shells, berries and much more.
Of course I also need to use faux flowers and other decorative elements, always assuring the best quality and the most natural look.
I generally buy them locally, but also abroad.
I think it’s not the materials origin to mark my crafts, but the style they are worked in and I think my home decor completely reflect what people generally expect from a “made in Italy” product.
What are your future goals?
Made in Italy is appreciated all over the world and I hope my creations, design, style, colors and arrangement represent the “made in Italy” handmade, through my modern and personal style, the one of a smiling, friendly Italian woman.
I hope to give people, who buy one of my decors, a little emotion, having at home a bit of made in Italy.
I love the idea that my creations, thanks to my online shop, can reach faraway countries all over the world, as I’d like to give anyone a bit of Italy through my handmade decors. So my goal is that in a not too far future my brand Ghirlandiamo may expand more all over the world and have a long list of frequent and devoted customers.
What’s your process from an idea to a finished product?
Each one of my crafts is totally designed, created and handmade personally by me.
Marked by my personal style, all my creations are different from one another: they cannot and will never be identical. When I begin a new craft, I generally have no plan. I only sit down and wait to be inspired. Then an idea pops up and I just let the creativity flows.
Where and when do you find yourself most creatively inspired?
I live in Salerno: a nice town in South Italy, right on the sea, with sunny weather and warm temperature for most of the year. All around me the nature has strong colors.
Furthermore I’m very close to Paestum and Pompei, with their great Greek and Roman ruins, and to Positano and Amalfi, with their stunning landscape. So all that influences and inspires my colorful crafts and my creativity.
Afternoon and evening are my most creative moments. In the morning, you won’t believe, but I’m completely unable to craft!
For more information about me and my crafts, please visit my Etsy shop, my site and my social media.
My site: www.ghirlandiamo.com Etsy: www.ghirlandiamo.etsy.com Facebook: www.facebook.com/ghirlandiamo Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/ghirlandiamo Instagram: www.instagram.com/ghirlandiamo