I have read many books on leadership, for duty and pleasure, but nothing taught me as much as the practical experience of looking into Giampietro Zonta and his company D’Orica.
Is he a successful man? It depends on the parameters with which you judge success. He does not have a Ferrari or a house in London, if these are useful parameters. On the other hand, he has been sought by newspapers and television from around the world to tell about the revolution that he is bringing to the world of silk.
Giampietro Zonta and his wife Daniela had the entrepreneurial dream to make jewellery of gold interwoven with Italian silk. Against all recommendations of industry experts, they are realizing their dream in an original way, following what may seem a more convoluted and less profitable path.
The realization of silk threads is inherently complex and involves agriculture, bachiculture, process and manufacturing industry. Someone has to cultivate the mulberry trees, raise silkworms that eat fresh mulberry leaves and produce silk threads from the silkworm cocoons. Then, these filaments have to be transformed into fabrics or jewellery. People who buy silk generally have no idea of the different processes of transformation that have taken place.
Giampietro Zonta decided to make silk with an organic and ethical approach. How?
He is doing what he has always done in life: combining technology, sustainability, respect and love. This is the recipe which led his goldsmithing company to success (even if some say that all this is topped off by an unstoppable flow of words, of philosophy, and that Giampietro’s true passion is ‘talk’).
He subscribes to intensity to technology precision, care to the last detail and continuous innovation. He calls his goldsmith company Dorica “metal workshop” for the way it works this precious metal. I noted that some of his customers in Hong Kong checked the quality and workmanship of Dorica jewellery with microscope, but were unable to find flaws to obtain lower prices. I might also mention sustainable Dorica jewellery: a glorious gold necklace based on photosynthesis that we have achieved together.
Sustainability: What about someone who lives in an energy class ‘gold label’ house and has had a ‘Class A’ factory since 2002. Underfloor heating at the workshop combines with other welfare for workers (except the man in charge of the thermostat who still is not sure of the temperature regulation and sometimes in the summer the floor is too cold).
And then there is love and respect. Firstly, of course, his passion for Daniela, and then for life in all its facets. One who is able to love through mistakes and find something positive in adversity that life makes you face: “innovations always came out from the need to address some major problem that seemed insurmountable.” And this positive outlook is contagious, creating an energy that comes to those nearby.
What to say of a man who still regularly meets his Italian teacher with his high school class friends? Or who celebrates the birthdays of all his collaborators in the company? Straight out of a fairy tale. The Dorica 25-year anniversary was a triumph for all: each collaborator (Giampietro Zonta does not like to call them employees) attended a recital on sustainability by Michele Dotti, with a delicious organic lunch in the library of the art high school in the town of Nove (to emphasize the link with culture, education and territory) and received a gift of a weekend in a spa.
Could a person like this simply buy a car and start the engine by turning the key? Of course not!
The first Dorica silk production was in 2014, silk had not been produced in Europe for over 40 years and the know-how remained in the hands and minds of a few ‘youngish’ engineers, technicians and artisans, closer to 70 than to 20 years. Silkworm breeding was virtually dead due to pollution and the particular circumstance that silkworms do not know holidays or respect night. In fact, these voracious worms eat at all hours and are continuously fed. For a few months farmers must devote themselves totally to them forgetting clubs, cafes, religious masses and long Sunday lunches with grandmother’s fettuccine.
Giampietro and Daniela decided that if they ” had to do silk”, they had to do it differently from others.
From all the amazing silk industry, which for centuries had created wealth in Italy, the Zonta spouses found that there was still just one small Filandina in a disabled cooperative. It was used only for some celebrations with schoolchildren and it was maintained by a ‘youngish retired engineer’. Against all advice, they bought this Nissan 1964 pachyderm, and took on a young Sicilian engineer who had spent a few months in Japan in a textile mill, and began their adventure.
At this point the story we add a social commitment by the Zontas to defend the only scientific institution in the field, the CREA of Padua, which preserves the knowledge on bachiculture and prepares eggs for the deposition of worms in the “boxes of eggs.”
Giampietro has created a network of enterprises for the entire supply chain needed to produce ethical silk: social cooperatives, research centers and several young experts coordinated by Laura Stieven and Claudio Gheller. Whatever happens in the future, today Giampietro has found new friends with whom he shares many hours on phone calls, meetings, family and convivial moments. What do you want more than a dream shared with friends!
But I could not tell this story without talking about our friendship, born for jewellery and for a sustainable and ethical lifestyle. I and my Australian husband created Energitismo as a network of small businesses with the object to promote these selected enterprises, telling their stories worldwide in English. Giampietro was the first to commit his company and now our Energitismo Association is head-quartered alongside Dorica. This allows us to have positive energy pills every day.
Many Eastern philosophies say that the secret of our life is in character and that if we want to live well we need a positive attitude and to be able to adapt to every circumstance.
But perhaps in the case of Giampietro we must go beyond, to the words of the poet Tonino Guerra: “Optimism is the perfume of life!”