We met with Stefania on the Pitti Uomo fair in Florence in mid-June. It was our first meeting.
Stefania is a girl with posters promoting the latest summer collection Stetson brand. You can see it on the streets in Warsaw this summer, during the promotion of our shop on Mysia street in Warsaw. It is also on our website Stetson.pl and FB profile.
Stefania sent us her photo with one of these posters in Warsaw in last April. She came to visit Poland with her boyfriend, Surprisely, found herself on the main street of our capital on the billboard.
Then the meeting has not happen. We had another chance and were able to meet in Italy during the trade event. As it turned out Stefania owns a hat shop in Sassari in Sardinia. We talked a lot about the business and live on Sassari. The record from the conversation is below to share with you.
Stefania talks about herself, the shop with a hundred years of tradition and monsters appeared on island.
Florence, Italy – June 2015
Tomek Dąbkowski (HatHouse.pl): So you Italian, I have heard that people leaving on Sardinia speak also Sardinia language. Is it true?
Stefania Premoli: We are Italian but we would like to be independent…for the moment it is only a dream! We speak also Sardinian and the language starts to be learned at the primary school. Our regional officials started consider Sardinian more officially too.
TD: As I know you have a hat shop….
SP: I have a little shop (38 m2) in Sassari, north Sardinia. It is located in the old town, where the cars are not allow to enter. So through the streets you can see people walking and there is no the noise and pollution of the cars! (map link: Via Luigi Luzzatti 5 – 07100 Sassari)
TD: Seems to be attractive place also for tourists..
SP: Of course. And more…the shop exists more than 100 years!!!
TD: Interesting! With your family for all these years?
SP: No. My parents, Michele and Liliana took over the shop in 1987. They run the business for 20 years….
TD: So, how you know that the hats are selling here over 100 years?
SP: I found few historical documents like first commercial license dated 1936 and some old advertisements that appeared in the era newspaper. It was hard to collect all the documents because most of the owner who have followed the shop are already dead.
TD: But it is amazing that you tried and you did it.
SP: It is because I wanted to register this as a “Historical Shop” in our region. To do this I needed to collect all the evidences for our local officials… Few years ago each region in Italy started to collect information about all the shops that exist at least 50 years. All these to protect and appreciate this cultural heritage. To be a part of this registration your shop needs to meet some requirements…
TD: Interesting! And the fact you have “Historical Shop” gives you any profits? Lower running costs for example?
SP: It depends. .You can borrow a money with low interest if you want to make renovation or you want to buy any additional equipment. Last year I bought electric gates!…Also I have a special plaque of the region in the window with the information that shop is historical one!
TD: 100 years sound amazing! Probably all the people in the Sassari know the shop very well ☺
SP: Not only in Sassari. I have customers from all over Sardinia, the rest of Italy and of course tourist who came to visit my island! The shop is in the heart of the city. Far from the big commercial centres…
TD: Do you have big commercial centres? I thought they not existed in Italy.
SP: There are a lot of this monsters! People go to the commercial centre because they find a parking place for free, warm in winter and chilly in summer…but they cannot find a shop as mine! I’m against at the philosophy of these monsters without soul!…It was different time when my parents manage the business. Everything were easier and there were not so many commercial centres as we have today in Sassari!!…Political mismanagement has allowed the construction of huge shopping centre…The old industrial area become now a commercial one. And new big malls start to compete with the small shops in the city centre…Before people of the nearby town came to Sassari to make a shopping, now they go directly to the suburb where there are a lot of shops.
TD: Do you think to move your shop to one of the centres?
SP: Somebody tempted me and ask me if I was interested to open a shop there. You know, there is always a lot of people… Maybe I’m crazy, because it could be a good business for me, but I prefer to stay in my little shop!!!…And, above all, I prefer to be free. You know in this commercial centres you are obliged to be open every day at any time.. there are no holidays and no time to rest!!
TD: So you decided to stay where you are and keep you clients with you.
SP: Yes, but I cannot to compete with this big centres. I will lose from the beginning. In my shop customers don’t find the same hats you can buy in the commercial centres or selling on the streets. I lost these customers who bought cheap hats. In my shop people find quality and brands that they cannot buy anywhere. I always say to the customers, if they have the possibility go to Alessandria where The brand Borsalino makes hats. Seeing all the processes need to be made to create a hat. Then they could understand why they are so expensive!…So I offer to my customers quality and competence and professionalism. I know what I sell and I can recommend the right hat they need. It’s not just to sell something. .I’m against the capitalist system! It’s about to talk with people. Maybe some of them want only to look and try …some are just curious.. so it’s not only to sell but it’s also build relation. People cannot find this in a big centre. Nobody take care of them there! People who buy something in my shop have to be satisfied of their purchase. Then they will come again…So sometimes is better not to sell but keep good relation with a customer!
TD: I see you have big experience in the business.
SP: I took the shop in 2006, cause my parents wanted to be retired. In that time I was working in an office with my protected salary every month, my holiday payed.. but with a boss!
TD: What was it?
SP: After university I worked in an office as accountant… Boring work! It was not something for me and I didn’t feel happy…So I decided to take over the shop with all the benefits and responsibilities!!! I took the chance when my parents wanted to stop. The idea that someone else could take the shop and maybe start to sell something else was not acceptable for me. I’ve been in the shop since I was a young girl and deep feeling connect me to this place!…So I renovated everything in 2007. I got more space by creating a kind of mezzanine floor in wood (that I use as to store things…and the mess!!!), but I kept the same style and atmosphere to try to give a continuity. The classic style of the furniture is in contrast to the crazy paintings. I’ve put all of them around upstairs to decorate and hide the mess behind!!
SP: No, The they are photos taken with the camera in South America, mostly Chile. This is a graffiti on the wall made by street artists. I’m not ready to show my pictures even if they are crazy too! My boyfriend push me to put my pictures in the shop to have a kind of gallery…But I’m not ready yet! !
TD: You can show them only for one day or only for friends (small “apertura”)
SP: It could be an idea…when I’m ready!!
TD: And these old pictures in you shop, on the wall with stairs. Are they about the history of your shop?
SP: These pictures are to celebrate the Stetson summer catalogue and my participation as a model!!…The theme is the travel so I found an old suitcase, hatbox and a camera to put in the window!…I invented a kind of competition asking people to send to the shop a postcard from their summer holiday.. one of them will win a hat of the new winter collection! So I’m waiting for postcards… nowadays nobody send a postcard anymore.. but.. I’m old fashion, people can stay away for a while from the mobile phone and social network and write a postcard, which is more poetic!! Normally inside the shop, on the wall, I have old pictures about famous actors of the past who wear hats (Humphrey Bogart, Cary Grant…) now, just for this summer, there are hanging the pictures of the Stetson catalogue that I put in different frames to make them cool!
TD: It seems that you devote a lot of attention to you shop how its look like inside.
SP: I’m trying to make the shop cool, because people have to change mind!!…Wear hats is cool!!… Wear hats is not only for old people as before, but it’s for people, young and old, who want to be special and have personality. I love to sell hats, speak with the customers and advise them to choice the best hat which is perfect for their head and face!…And to sell hats you have to be a bit crazy… and love hats…I think!…The hat shop is a magic place, people who entered in become fascinated, even people more sceptic!!
TD: You said “because people have to change mind”?
SP: Before everybody wear hats, if you look old pictures you can notice that! Now some people think that wear hats id for old people or they are shy or afraid about what people say! I have costumers (women) who buy hats that they will use them when they are not in Sardinia!! Thanks to brands like Stetson, that make something not traditional. The trend is changing. Young people see artists and musicians wearing hats and then they came to my shop asking for the same hat!..In this society where everything is homologate, wearing a hat making the difference and making a person unique. I have young customers who like old style and the opposite. .there is a hat for each head and it’s about creating its own style! It’s what I would like people understand: to express more themselves and how they are and not what people expect from them!
TD: How did you react when heard that you will be a Stetson star and promote the brand with SS2015 collection? What was your feelings? It was surprise for you?
S P:I was excited and shy because I’m not used to do things like that.. I’ve warned Stetson team that I’m not a professional model and I’m a little bit old to be a model…I’m 40! I sent them different pictures of myself…even of my Greek profile (I have an important nose, You can Say! ). So first they saw my pictures than they choose me! It was a funny experience and we all had good time! At the beginning I was embarrassed but they make me feel very comfortable.
TD: Funny you said 40 and “old” It is the best age! You look very natural on the pictures.
SP: I agree with You. ..40 is The best age, for the moment!! But you know the average of the age of a model is around 18! I look natural on the pictures thanks to them and my boyfriend too…I obligated him to be with me for the shooting! And he appears from behind in a picture they took!