From accounting to sewing.

From biomedical engineer to fashion entrepreneur, this is Veronica’s story, who stopped counting, after a lifetime spent in the accounting sector, but kept giving numbers. Filo Vero.

There is Fëdor Dostoevskij’s quote that Veronica particularly love: “Beauty will save the world”. And in her (past) world of numbers, equations and calculations, in the end, beauty has always won over everything else. For about seven years, Veronica has lived a double professional life (triple if you count that she is also a mother). During the day she was working as a biomedical engineer, whilst at night, she was working as a businesswoman with a passion for sewing. For her graduation in 2004, while all her colleagues had asked for a laptop as a gift, she asked for a sewing machine. Sewing has always been her passion, but only in 2006, when she became a mother for the first time, she began to shape this passion into something more professionally related. However, for over ten years, sewing has just been a hobby for Veronica. Only from 2016 she decided to quit her job as an engineer, who was becoming increasingly incompatible with family commitments, in order to devote herself to her real passion, which turned into a new full-time entrepreneurial activity: Filo.Vero.

Interview 

Can you tell me more about your story and what motivated you to take this leap?

I am 39 years old, with two children and a Biomedical Engineering degree at the Polytechnic of Milan. Since I graduated, I have always worked as an engineer, first as a university researcher, then as a consultant. However, I have always had a “creative” soul and, as you said, a passion for sewing and for all women’s manual arts. This passion has always been coupled with the one for my job as an engineer. I often tell this anecdote, which gives a good idea of how my two souls have always lived together. As a gift for my graduation, I asked my parents for a nice professional sewing machine. In 2010 I started sewing the first bibs for my son and I created the Filo.vero brand. In 2011 I opened the first online store on a platform for artisans. Family issues (two children, one of which with special needs) and the increasingly irreconcilable demands of my job as an engineer with a mother’s duties have led me to consider the idea of turning my passion into a real job. In addition, I always wanted to look for something that would allow my two souls to find meeting point. The idea matured slowly, and hence I kept both jobs in parallel for a while, until the real jump in 2017 with the opening of my small company and the creation of the Filo.vero brand.

Salvador Dali once said that he had succeeded in breaking through the wall of art thanks to a military discipline. In your opinion, how important it is the method in your work? How do you manage to combine your creative side with the rational one?

In my opinion, methodical and organisational skills are pivotal. I believe that Filo.vero success has been mainly due to the fact that I have always looked at it through managerial eyes, even though it started as a hobby. Thence, ordering and planning allowed me to transform my creative side into a profession.

As a gift for my graduation, I asked my parents for a nice professional sewing machine.

— Veronica Valentini

In Italy, only about 26% of women have managerial roles, the gender gap is about 23% (which means that for every dollar earned by man, women get 77 cents ) and only about 21,8% of italian factories is driven by women. However, 40% of women-owned businesses were born after 2010, hence, in the last 8 years, Italy has witnessed a sharply increase in female entrepeneurs. In your opinion, does the entrepeneurship might be the solution to reduce, or even to wipe out, all gender gaps within the workplace?

I’ll answer this to a certain extent through an unpopular way: I believe that there is a gap that can never be filled. There are deep and intrinsic differences between men and women, and firstly the fact that women are the ones who give birth to children (and hence, it entails efforts in terms of time, energy, dedication, etc.). I became aware of this after giving birth to my first child, after having worked within a rather masculine environment (as an engineering and a business consultant) and, in addition, having also chosen the path of entrepreneurship. I believe that entrepreneurship can certainly be a way to show that it is possible to work flexibly, in terms of time and place, and at the same time, effectively. It is also an excellent way to highlight some important feminine skills, such as the spirit of initiative, adaptation to change and organizational skills. It is evident that in recent years the working world is changing, but I think that the real way to reduce the gender gap is paradoxically the one of recognizing, despite the awareness of the incredible female work skills, the natural diversity between men and women, adapting the work (not in terms of remuneration!) to this diversity.

During the 2016 “Woman of the Year Award” Thank You Speech at Billboard Music Awards Madonna stated that in life, there is no real safety except for self-belief. At work, how much does self-confidence count for you?

It really does count very much. In all these working years, as an engineer and now entrepreneur, I have learnt to recognize my capacities and to be much more confident. This brought me more successful results and, especially, has taught me to not stop me in front of failures. My great grandmother used to tell me “who does not do, cannot make mistakes”. I am always in the process of learning that making mistakes is an occasion to learn something new and to move forward. Having said this, I am also human (and a woman) and I always need reassurances.

I am always in the process of learning that making mistakes is an occasion to learn something new and to move forward.

— Veronica Valentini

Few quick questions

Which is the one enemy for creativity?

For me, it is having deadlines and the necessity of making things faster (although deadlines are often quite helpful for working better and more efficiently).

If you found a working time machine, and you could have one trip only, where would you like to live? In past or future times ?

In the present, for sure!

When, throughout a dinner, someone asks you what do you do and what are you working on, what’s your answer (in just a word)?

Businesswoman.

What drives you to work more? Making profit and be successful (making money) or whether your job gives meaning to your life and might positively impacts the world (making meaning)?

Obviously, making money by doing something good which gives meaning to my life and might positively impacts the world. I’m ambitious.

If you could write an only word on top of a big billboard in the center of your city, which word would you choose?

Love yourself!

Who’s the stylist would you rather inviting for dinner?

Iris Apfel (she is an entrepreneur and an interior design, besides a stylist, actually). For me she’s an absolute styling icon, I would love to get old like she did.