Maybe not everyone knows “Io vivo in”, a Made in Italy brand that is represented by a small boar printed on shirts and many other gadgets…well, it is about one of the most clamorous entrepreneurial cases in recent years and it came out of the Tuscan Tiber Valley; only in 2015, the brand sold 15,000 t-shirt and 10,000 stuffed boar toys.
This success is the result of the intuition of Ottavia Pittini and her husband Nicola. We meet Ottavia in Sansepolcro on a sun-drenched Tuesday that feels like spring. She is brilliant, communicative , chaotic and yet very decisive in her words: «My days are 48 hours, not 24, very overwhelming between kids and work; and luckily I have reduced compared to the profession I had before, until a short time ago…», tells Ottavia.
by Marco Polchi
So you had two jobs?
«Oh yes! I was a representative in central Italy for a pharmaceutical company, where by chance I found myself seeing that I had a university degree but I didn’t have all the requirements. This was my first job for a long time, then with the development and the growth of the present brand and the birth of my children I had to decide what to give my time to».
And how did you manage to make it all happen?
«I have to say that, in this my husband gave me a big hand. And it seems right to me. Equality shows in collaboration as well, the dividing of jobs and the organization together of the day, work and family. I feel like I’m saying simple things, but I realize that it is not so».
In what sense?
«In the sense that this should be normal, but it is still a subject of debate both socially as well as politically».
Are you referring to the discussion that came from the candidature of Giorgia Meloni as the mayor of Rome?
«Yes, but I don’t want to get into this discussion, I just want to simply say that a woman can do what she wants, if she feels like it. Nothing should be set for her».
You were born in Friuli, in Udine, how is it that you found yourself in the Tiber Valley?
«I came to Sansepolcro in 1999 for a job collaboration through the University in an important company in the area; I felt a little disoriented at first, but then I began to get to know this area».
Where then you remained.
«Exactly, in that period I also met my present husband. A short time later I moved here permanently, by day I was a representative- as I said earlier- in the evening I kept myself busy at the pizzeria Pieve Vecchia, which Nicola’s (husband, editor’s note) family had opened not long before».
You were little over 20 years old but you had clear ideas…
«It depends on your character as well. In particular, however, speaking about work I believe that I always kept myself busy, I worked my first season in the mountains when I was sixteen: I wanted to be independent, at least for my own interests. I think that even now, in spite of all the problems that there are, if you want to work, you can do it».
What are you afraid of, Ottavia Pittini?
«The thing that makes me afraid in this moment is that young people are disoriented, they seem sicure but they are fragile and they have no points of reference; they have few ambitions, not much in the possessing of material things, they are little inclined to create something. It seems they have the right to everything».
You have been here for a long time: by now do you feel you are a little bit Tuscan?
«Not much to tell the truth. There are things that I like very much here, the land is beautiful, the people are jovial, open, but in the north I find more availability, especially in the social realm. To be absurd here I feel there is more individualism, more appearance, if a person doesn’t see any gain he doesn’t make himself available. It seems to me a general tendency, at least this is what I have seen».
You live in Sansepolcro but you have chosen Anghiari as your retail store: why?
«For touristic reasons, this context suits our business. We waited about two years to have that place in the village of Anghiari…and to think that the owner was almost about to go back in his steps but we held our ground, we wanted that space very much».
But how did the idea come about to match an animal to the brand “Io vivo in Italia” then going down to the regions of the Belpaese, starting from Tuscany?
«From trips…after the first, very intense period at Pieve Vecchia, my husband and I were going to take a holiday and we realized that in other countries typical animals are used as mascots, for example, in Spain the bull, in Scandinavia the moose, and here in Italy only monuments. So we said, why don’t we do something in particular? From there, the idea of the boar t-shirts came at the end of 2009 beginning of 2010».
But why the boar?
«It is the most Italian animal, it goes from north to the south, it is able to be cute, direct but sincere, it is a little bit like an average Italian!».
What is the biggest difficulty that you have encountered?
«Well, we opened a shop in Massa Marittima because we really wanted to invest in small villages: the problem is the cost of the work, it is too high and then the economic recovery that is still a mirage».
What makes you say this?
«Here, the crisis has not come yet, it is beginning to bite harder in this moment in my opinion; you can see it from the low-cost products in the supermarkets, from the shops and firms that are closing in bigger numbers. There is a general impoverishment».
Yet you believe in Made in Italy
«Oh yes. Just now a new line is starting that I designed for magnets, candles and soaps made entirely in Italy. Of course: t-shirts, stuffed toys, and novelties are for importation to lower the costs».
Have you ever thought of moving?
«I admit it, it is not easy to resist though especially now, with the family, it is complicated to go. We have to hold on tight to our excellences, the best reality entrepreneurial is to build something with them, it means that we can do great things even here. Unfortunately there is a kind of confusion between those who produce and those who administrate and manage the resources. In Italy you never get to the bottom of things but you make up for it with other things: history, nature, food…».
Exactly. What is your favourite dish?
«It’s not a dish…but its a sinful treat: dark chocolate with whole hazlenuts!».