“Our philosophy is to respect the environment, to not abuse the world. Try to produce something positive for people and for the world.”
What is your current role at both Stefanel and Stofanel?
At the moment I’m on the Board of Directors at Stefanel. I follow the progress of Stefanel closely.
I’m the Art Director here at Stofanel, which means I’m involved in all things that have to do with aesthetics and lifestyle, in their coordination and integration.
What was your previous role at Stefanel?
I was also the Art Director there. I started as a designer when I was 18. I had started to study psychology at University and my father said to me, “Come here [to Stefanel] and see if you like it.” And I liked it very much. The company also increased so much, so quickly, that I soon only had time to work there. It was a fascinating time because from a small company we grew in a big company with a lot of success. I worked almost day and night back then.
In the beginning, I was alone designing a whole collection. Then eventually there were many people: I had a team of designers and technicians, who put everything into production. My team handled everything, which has to do with creativity – the collections, advertising, marketing. There were 100 people on the creative team when I left.
I was working with my father, my mother and my brother. We all grew together – working in our special fields. It was really a family company – at the age of four I was playing in the knitwear bins with my dolls.
Your father started Stefanel?
My father started a company that was producing for wholesalers. And then my brother started with Stefanel and then after two years I entered the company. My brother and I started the Stefanel franchising concept.
Now there are 6,000 people working for us all over the world, directly and indirectly.
You didn’t have any training as a designer?
No: the training was running, running, running - and now it’s the same because I’m not an architect. I just have a strong feeling for aesthetic. But it seems my life, my destiny, is always to jump into something new very quickly and very fast.
Stofanel is taking a very socially conscious position as a company - is that also your personal philosophy?
Yes, it’s a very strong personal philosophy, because to start working again at my age, only for the money, it’s not very interesting for me. My husband and I want to leave a positive imprint. We are trying to give a lot of importance to ecology and to respecting the world. I strongly believe that if you do something positive that comes back to you. If you do something negative that also comes back to you - so our philosophy is to respect the environment, to not abuse the world. Try to produce something positive for people and for the world.
Every day you can touch this aspect of life. If you’re not in harmony with the world you cannot be in harmony with yourself. I love life, I think life loves me, and I love the world and I think the world loves me. This is possible if you don’t act negatively towards the world, the environment and yourself. I think it’s a balance between all these things. You have to respect yourself. You have to respect the world and other people.
Now that I’m a little older my feelings are clearer and my ideas are clearer. You dream when you are 18 or 20 and now I still dream, but with much more realism. I’ve seen many things in the last 30 years. I know that there are things one can dream that can become a reality.
At what moment was the idea of Stofanel born?
The idea was born two years ago when I discovered the world of real estate with my husband and I saw how many things in this industry just don’t work. My husband encouraged me to become interested in the world of real estate and resorts and I told him that he was a fox, because I didn’t want to work in business anymore: I wanted to be more involved in social projects, such as our Family Stoffel Foundation in Nepal.
Nevertheless, I saw that my philosophy could also be applied to the world of real estate. In this business you really see that almost everything is done purely for money, not for bringing people quality of life. You look in a brochure and see 300 houses put down in straight lines on a wonderful, natural piece of land. Terrible! They’re destroying a lot of places in the world and I don’t understand why there’s no sensitivity to that. I know and I feel that everyone is special - how can you have 300 people living in a house where everything is the same?
And when you buy or rent something, you could change so many things inside to be really comfortable, but many people don’t have the chance or time to do this.
It’s like a dress, I think. You have a basic shape, but then you can tailor the dress to a specific body. In the same way, we can also create a house that’s 50 to 60 percent raw, and then the other 40 percent we can especially tailor to the people that are buying the house. Whether it’s family, a single person, a man or a woman.
What’s it like to work with your husband so closely?
I think we complement each other. Where he is strong, I am weak and where I am strong, often he is weaker.
Describe your approach to business in three words.
Stomach. Heart. Head.
Is there a difference for you between designing clothing and interior design?
The house is a kind of dress for a life; a dress is a kind of house for a body. They’re not so different - but a house is more concrete and can give you more: you can retire in a house; you can feel safe and comfortable. A dress can make you feel nice, strong. The value is different, but it’s a similar need that you cover. And of course the technical aspects are completely different, but the feelings that you can create are very similar.
How and when did you and your husband begin art collecting?
We’ve both been doing it since we were children. It’s a love that we have. I’m a creative person and I like creativity. For my husband it was a way to dream, to get away from the business world and to remain a very sensitive person.
Art is an inspiration – it’s also a good way to take a holiday: when you admire a painting you can stand still and yet experience something new. It’s also a good way to educate yourself about your feelings and your taste.
How important is ecology to Stofanel?
An ecological approach is very important for us. For me, luxury is ecological now. Luxury is not the old generation values of gold and marble. I like very simple things. For me ‘luxury’ is what makes my life nice, comfortable.
What is Italian style?
It represents quality of life. I think the approach we have to life, we have to our fashion, to our bodies and to our homes – is about enjoying oneself.