In the past week, I was invited to attend the annual event Artigianato e Palazzo, where 80 artisans from all over Italy (even beyond) gather together to present their works. Jewelry, costume, shoes, books, food…… it was the best, and an unique, opportunities to see the artisans working on live, and talk with them to learn their personal stories.
One of the artisans I had talked with were Louisa from Gentili Fragranze. Together with her business partner Francesca, she is running the fragrances bottega Gentili Fragranze in the province of Mass. Besides the floral scent and the all-natural ingredients of their products, I was attracted tons by the shapes and forms of their soap. Rather made into traditional form, the soaps were decorated as sweets and presented in cake stands.
In this episode, we will get to know some of the stories of this young and “delicious” company, and listen to the two ladies sharing the stories of their collaborations.
Name: Louisa & Francesca
Profession: Artisans/ Founders of Gentili Fragranze
1. Please tell us some information of your products.
Louisa: We started our company Gentili Fragranze about 3 years ago. We make solid soaps with natural ingredients, such as olive oil, coconut oil, shea butter, and natural fragrances, etc. For coloring, we use minerals, charcoals, and vegetable colors, etc. All of our products are biological certified, and are handmade by me and Francesca from the beginning to the end.
2. How did you find your interest in making soap?
Louisa: I first read about soap making from a book written in English, introduced by my Mom. I became immediately interested in it, and followed by searching on internet for more information and techniques about the subject. I started it as a passion, then became addicted to it.
I’ve kept learning new techniques and trying to figure out my own recipe. When I finally found it, I started making soaps for other people. After three years, I met Francesca, and we turned out business partners for our company.
3. Why the two of you decided to partner up and start the business together?
We met in an exhibition. Francesca had already been making perfumes and biological soaps. And she has a degree in chemistry, so she is very serious and knowledgeable. While I am the creative, and crazy, one, who usually comes up with different ideas. You can tell we have very different styles. And because of this, we found we can complete each other! That’s why we decide to work together.
4. Since you don’t have a physical shop at this moment, where in the market can we find your soap? Which are your major selling channels?
We majorly sell to chemists, herbalists, or shops that carry only biological products. We only sell our products directly to individual customers in events such as Artigianato e Palazzo.
We do have a laboratory though, and we had arranged few workshops there. We’d like to arrange more, hopefully once per month in the future. Or if any one requests, we can come to their place for simple workshops.
5. How long it takes to make a fancy/ complicated “cake” like this one? And what’s the right way to use it?
It is one of the most complicated cake. First we make the layers, and it has three. At the same time, we also make the little Christmas trees, so that they can be dried completely for later use. When the layers are ready, we assemble them together, decorate around, install the pre-made Xmas trees, and finish with the small sugar balls on top. It takes around 4-5 days to complete it.
When using it, you should cut out a piece from it. Just like when you are eating the cake, but with a very sharp knife! And you will see inside, there are different layers. It is still nice as decoration, even it is cut open. People like to put it in a cake stand, so it serves as a decoration, and the perfume for the house.
For a glimpse of the annual event Artigianato e Palazzo, see a video I filmed on-site: