Italian Version –
It’s with sheer joy (yes, that’s the word) that I’m asking you to read the following interview to LE SIBILLE and to its three founders and managers, Camilla Bronzini, Francesca Neri Serneri and Antonella Perugini.
Sheer joy, I said. And I mean it. I met these wonderful craftswomen, scholars and entrepreneurs about four years ago, in what used to be their workshop and their studio, the place where they made stunning and unique jewels, real masterpieces that keep up the name of 100% Made in Italy brands.
Meeting them was pleasant right from the start, because the path to the building where they are based takes you through a green area full of plants and flowers that (automatically) put you in peace with the rest of the world.
I was immediately impressed by the kindness and light-heartedness of these women, just like when you find relief in a cold shower or in refreshing sea water when the weather is extremely hot. This is the best comparison to describe the feeling I got.
I’m sure you have felt the same way before, just the way people do when they feel comfortable talking to someone. There was no symposium on goldsmithing or technicalities understood only by experts, only their captivating passion as they told me about some jewels and the beauty of their techniques to create unique and exclusive pieces.
Someone whose name I don’t remember said: “a genius is someone who can explain difficult concepts in simple words”, and I’d like to use this quote for them. This is one of the reasons why I chose to interview them in the person of Francesca Neri Serneri.
The aim of this interview is to tell their story, the path they took to fulfill their dream, to build something extraordinary, that is their company, LE SIBILLE.
Our interviews are meant as stories of dreams made true and we like to think that anyone can find the drive to fulfill their own dream after reading them.
Gabriella Ruggieri for 1blog4u
1) Camilla Bronzini, Francesca Neri Serneri, Antonella Perugini. I’d like to know something about your education. Was it to do with arts? If yes, were you supported or hindered in your choice of secondary school? In my day (I knew I would say this phrase sooner or later) if you told your parents that you were going to choose art school, they used to answer: “No way! It’s a school for slackers and junkies. Do accounting and you’ll get a steady job!”
1) Education to do with arts? I’m the one who got the closest: I attended “liceo classico” (a high school specializing in Greek and Latin TN) followed by Archeology at The University of Rome, Camilla studied Economics and Antonella majored in Psychology. However, we have always been keen on handwork and while we were at school we all attended goldsmithing courses and learned techniques for designing jewels – and by the way, yes, my parents were totally against art school.
2) Did you get a job in this field just after university or did you first do something totally different?
2) When I was still at school I got a job in photography and I spent hours working in the darkroom. Later on, at university, I felt the need to put my inspiration into practice so I started attending “Istituto di Arte Ornamentale di S. Giacomo” where I was taught techniques for planning and creating jewels. The courses took place from 6 to 9 pm and attending them regularly required true love and sacrifice.
3) Did your passion start when you were little girls or later? Was there an event that unleashed your inner sparkle and made you think: “this is what I want to do”?
3) It happened really early: I got my love for DIY from my grandmother. She taught me how to use copper wires, buttons, ceramics, crochet hooks, knitting needles… just about everything, and to turn things into something precious and noble. I used to make my accessories myself.
4) Why do you do micromosaic and not another technique?
4) When I was studying the Minor Arts I discovered the technique of “mosaico minuto romano”, which is now totally lost and solely for the Vatican. This technique, together with others of Italian tradition, became the concept of Le Sibille, the creation of a Renaissance workshop where antique techniques are experimented and offered to people who are looking for dreams.
5) Did your parents support you? Did they help you find the right path in life and work, or did they try to stop you?
5) Each of them helped and supported us.
6) How did you meet? When and how did three people from different walks of life decide to share something so meaningful? Did you start as a trio? And above all….It is said that women aren’t good team workers and tend to argue; what’s your secret?
6) Camilla and I met at goldsmithing school, then Antonella and finally Elena, who had studied at Istituto Europeo di Design, joined in. Together we decided to create Le Sibille, a brilliant idea of Camilla’s and along the way… my dear it was so difficult! Eventually, Elena quit.
However, at that point our company began to take off, our work became smooth, we got our product right and became well-known worldwide! Our secret is mutual respect, esteem, complicity and above all enjoying ourselves together, turning every single project into a challenge and an adventure.
7) How was the project LE SIBILLE born? Where did you get the idea? Why did you choose this name? Did you have any problems? Did you have money aside? Did you take up a mortgage? (I’m just trying to guess, you see) Did you have to cut through a lot of red tape?
7) As I said before about our project, we wanted to worship and protect goldworking, an art which is unfortunately getting extinct, in order to help humanity keep alive the only true idea and function of a precious object, which, like a totem, gives a full identity to those who wear it.
We cut through a lot of red tape just like everybody, I think, but we overcame it stubbornly. Each of us had a nest egg saved thanks to our first experiments of jewellery making.
The name LE SIBILLE, which was a stroke of genius Camilla had, represents the women enclave created by The Cumaean Sibyl in the famous cave in Cumae, an ancient Greek colony near Naples, where the famous oracle prophesied about conquest and expansion of the Roman empire for Roman Generals and for the fleet based at Capo Miseno.
8) At what point did you say “Well, today we open up”? Tell me about the inauguration.
8) There was no inauguration. We just worked to be on the market as soon as possible.
9) When did you come to understand that you could make a living from this job? (artisanal, not industrial, I’d like to point out) When was the turning point?
9) There wasn’t an exact moment (or I simply can’t remember it), but we started to see that our creations were appreciated and liked by a cultured public, fascinated by obsessive attention to details and willing to wear something unique belonging solely to them… Women who showed off our rings as if they were totems.
10) If you hadn’t chosen this path, what would you have done? What could have been your plan B?
10) We didn’t think of a plan B. That was our dream, our mission and we couldn’t possibly fail! After all, LE SIBILLE are the oracles of jewels, aren’t they?
11) Did you cross paths with any negative people who maybe tried to make you give up? Or maybe gave you the motivation to say “I’ll show you what I can do”?
11) I think so… definitely. But aglio favaglio (an Italian phrase meant to keep bad luck away – TN) the positive attitude of the SIBILLE and the love for our work defeated them.
12) Have you been inspired by someone? I mean, not necessarily people doing the same job, but also entrepreneurs, artists or common people.
12) To be honest no, at least not contemporaries. We have always been inspired by Art History, Architecture, the past: this means Raffaello, Leonardo Da Vinci, Eastern cultures, myths and legends.
13) What are your plans for the future?
13) We want to become more and more well-known and showcased all over the world, to meet the requirements of tourists looking for true craftwork, for “art” according to the Latin meaning of ars, that is an acquired attitude towards elegance, charm, gracefulness (ars is at the same time the “manner” of an artist and the “brand” of a craftsman). We want to take our products to places where it’s still possible to find the real 100% Made in Italy and then go on widening and improving our direct relationship with potential customers worldwide.
14) My last question is in my opinion one of the most crucial: what advice would you give to someone who wishes to take up the same career, to fulfill their dream of starting their own business, not necessarily in the same field?
14) I’d advise them to listen to the whisper of their own inner voice and to let their soul out, with enthusiasm and stubbornness, without being afraid of making mistakes. Above all, I would recommend experimenting. Everyone (some more, some less) has got the natural ability (ingenium) to produce, a creative power which is at the same time inclination and invention. Quoting Levi-Strauss: “Ingenium is the inclination of human spirit to gather heterogeneous data to produce something new”
This is the end of our interview. I really hope it’s been inspiring for someone. I’d like to thank Francesca Neri Serneri who also provided the pictures, too. Moreover, I want to say a special thank you to Loredana Malchiodi, who translated it for us.