The moment you realize you have made it! Foreign female entrepreneurs in Italy explain theirs

From a dentist and a wedding planner to an architect and hotelier this series explores the great and not so great of doing business in Italy.   In the final part of our Female, Foreign and an Entrepreneur in Italy series, our group of businesswomen talk about the defining milestones in their business lives, and some of the more hilarious moments they have experienced along the way!

Kathy Moulton kalilacommunity.com 
The personal: for a while in Italy I had to refer to myself as my husband’s wife.  I didn’t know anyone here and had little contacts. I felt like I was constantly saying “Sono la moglie di David” (I am David's wife) which was difficult for me. I had always been very independent and with my own identity outside of the marriage.  During the renovations on my store my husband dropped by to say “hello.”  For the first time since our move to Italy I overhead him introducing himself to the builders as “il marito di Kathy” (Kathy's husband).  I’ll never forget the day that I shifted back from being someone’s wife to being "someone" again. 
The business: For Kalila, it was the day that I first tried on our first jacket prototype. I had dreamt of creating a pregnancy and post-partum running jacket since I was pregnant with my first child. I had sketched it over and over so many times. Trying it on for the first time was a very proud moment!"

 Image: Kathy Moulton kalilacommunity.com

Image: Kathy Moulton kalilacommunity.com

Marylynn Castriciano studiodentisticocastriciano.it
"Getting a dental practice off the ground in rural Italy is not easy but I have two key milestones: the first, having built a strong customer base from scratch slowly but surely and secondly, expanding the business to a larger brand new location that I have recently purchased myself." 

Ginny Bevan weddingsatlakegarda.com 
"One day the manager at one of the high-end wedding venues here on Lake Garda confided to me that as soon as he receives an inquiry for an English speaking wedding he refers the couple directly to me.  That was when I realized I had secured a firm footing in the business community here. On a personal level the ongoing friendships with my couples are special milestones. They contact me to meet up when they return to Italy or they email me to tell me that they are pregnant for example.   Knowing that I have made a difference, a happy one at that, on one of the most important days of their lives, gives me massive job satisfaction." 

Christina Ayer - xinamarie.com and holiday-garda.com
"Winning the contract for the supply of Mosaic tiles for the Al Baraij Bait towers in Mecca was a major milestone for my business.  And then again in 2015 with the production of the mosaic floor for the new gallery of the V&A museum in London, to be opened in 2017.  Also, every time we secure a new villa to market on our site."

Rosanna Mancuso-Marcello  www.facebook.com/casamiaborghetto
"It is still early days for my B&B but we are launched and getting some great online reviews.    I will never forget though the first buzz of elation I felt upon the confirmation of my 3 Lion certification!”

  Bed and Breakfast Casa Mia  - Image: Emma Cuthbertson

Bed and Breakfast Casa Mia - Image: Emma Cuthbertson

Jody de Best debeststudio.com
"Milestones are everyday.  Successful milestones allow your business to move forward and unsuccessful ones put you 2 or 3 steps backwards. I’d say one of the defining successful milestones was taking on a business and creative partner here in Italy. Getting someone to share your vision and with enthusiasm is a rare opportunity and one I am thankful for.  Even more difficult is handing over some of the responsibility, but the studio is that much stronger and more productive teamed up."

Julia Maria Cardoza  ladycapulet.com
"It would be hard for me to pinpoint one moment, but is was wonderful to receive recognition from a major partner, booking.com, with a guest review score of 9.8, the highest in Verona." 

Elena Kloppenburg - elenakphotography.com.  
"When I managed to raise my prices and people started to appreciate the value of the memories I create."

Julianna Northcott
"Finally feeling accepted in the male dominant business community here was an important milestone for me. Managing the staff at the campsite was at times stressful and challenging, but also one of the most rewarding aspects of the job. It was especially fulfilling to see the young students that had never left home before, come and work a season on the site in Italy and return home as adults."

Linda Martinez  the-beehive.com 
"I think the speed with which we were able to get started definitely helped.   As many people in Rome know, things do not move at a lightning speed here, but we managed to get our place up and running in 2 weeks – that was a record that has never been surpassed as since then we’ve expanded and added new rooms and the quickness of that initial start-up has never been duplicated.  In addition, the fact that many of our first guests really liked us and spread the word about us quickly that first summer also attributed to our reputation and success.  I will always appreciate those first guests and the first guidebook and travel writers who came, liked us and believed in us."  

The comedy borderline bizarre moments

Elena Kloppenburg - elenakphotography.com
“Before my career in photography I went on a work trip south to Battipaglia, which is famous for mozzarella cheese.    After the meeting the business partner insisted on having me chauffeured to the station and instructed the driver to buy 4 kg of Mozzarella on the way to give to me as a gift.  Italians generally are very generous.  And the mozzarella was delicious!"

Julianna Northcott
“There were times whilst running the campsite in Italy when I attracted some unsolicited attention.   This included a random marriage proposal from a night watchman on the site. On another occasion the washing machine repairman asked me if he could take photos of me in the nude (for art purposes only), in exchange for showing me his own “photo art.”  Another time the linen supplier grabbed me and kissed me full on the mouth whilst I was counting how many pillowcases I needed for the site.  Needless to say I did lose count!”

Julianna Northcott
"I was called into the First Aid Facility at the campsite to translate for a young Dutch couple.  The guy was stripped from waist down on the bed and he was complaining of a pain in his stomach and problems passing water.  The first thing that shocked me was that his equipment down below had swollen to the size of two grapefruits!  The second, when the onsite elderly and usually rather reserved doctor exclaimed:  “Crikey Julianna, they must have been “at it” like rabbits. That’s why he is so swollen!”  Thirdly, when I had to translate the diagnosis, albeit slightly red-faced and through some stuttering and stammering, and then the cure:  “Apply ice cold water and abstinence for at least 5 days!”

 Translation beyond the call of duty.......

Translation beyond the call of duty.......


Christina Ayer - xinamarie.com and holiday-garda.com 
"I ended up in a farcical legal wrangle once when a misogynist Italian policeman gave me a 5000 euro fine for a regulation I actually did not go anywhere near infringing.   He claimed I didn't have a shop license.  But I didn't have a shop – I had an art gallery and an ecommerce warehouse, and the policeman didn't know the regulations for either business type.   The policeman basically got the law wrong.  But I still had to go to court, teach ecommerce warehouse regulations to the 80 year old judge, and pay for 2 years of legals fees. The judge then refused to award costs because he reckoned it was reasonable for the policeman not to know the law.  Anyway, the policeman had a bee in his bonnet because I was a woman and so was my accountant, so therefore we must be doing it wrong.  Quote, unquote."

Kathy Moulton kalilacommunity.com 
"I was working at a law firm when I first arrived in Italy and one day we all received an email that we would have a team-building soccer game and then dinner together. I naturally assumed that it was for everyone and I went to my colleague’s office to say it sounded like fun.  He just started to shake his head and say “oh no, you don’t get it. I can understand why you wouldn’t get it because it is completely wrong.”  He then explained to me that the soccer part of the team-building event was only for MEN! The women in the office were expected to wait until 11pm for a late dinner with the men once they had finished playing. I found this ludicrous and of course, decided to pull their legs by telling them how excited I was to play soccer. This caused quite stir in the office (it was a New York based firm so they realized they couldn’t be overtly sexist and tell me that I couldn’t play) but in the end none of the females actually played. It was one of those moments that perfectly illustrated the peculiar notions that Italian companies have about “team-building” and gender roles. 

Thank you to all the businesswomen who took part in this blog series "Female, Foreign and an Entrepreneur in Italy." I wish you all continued success and fulfillment with your business endeavours in Italy.
Read the previous posts in this series:  Part One, Part Two and Part Three