“Sixty percent of the world’s beauty is made in Italy,” said Amy Parsons, chief executive officer of Mozzafiato. And while many of those markets involve multibrand concepts, there has yet to be a leading company offering Italian-only beauty brands to North America, continued the executive.
That’s the goal for Mozzafiato, to “bring in that craftsmanship and heritage of these Italian brands into the visibility of the American market,” she said. “The homegrown, native brands that come from Italy are virtually unknown in the U.S. That was the problem we were trying to solve.”
The online shop at mozzafiato.com will offer fragrance, bath and body items, skin care, men’s grooming and gift sets from 17 brands to start, including Acqua dell’Elba, Marvis, Perlier, Proraso, Storie Veneziane, Skin & Co. Roma and Carthusia. Ranging in price between around $20 and $400, all goods are “authentically Italian,” made with ingredients sourced from the country.
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Storytelling is a major element of Mozzafiato’s strategy. The site will feature the product founders, makers and history of each brand, highlighting their Italian regions.
“We are taking consumers into the homes and families,” continued Parsons. “We want people to know, you can go to Capri and go to the Carthusia store. We want people to be inspired to visit these places.”
While the idea behind Mozzafiato was developed pre-pandemic, the concept came to life this year during the health crisis through virtual planning and Zoom meetings, working with the Italian Trade Agency in New York, an Italian government agency supporting business and foreign investment in Italy.
“I honestly don’t think we could have created this company, stood it up and be ready to launch in any other time but COVID-19,” said Parsons. “In some ways, being in this environment allowed us to move a lot faster, believe it or not, in being able to put these deals together. It immediately forced everyone here and the Italian brands out of their comfort zones right away and forced everyone to think about doing business in a different way.”
E-commerce became “front of mind” for all involved, she said. “These are companies, some are 400 years old, [they] have not really entered the U.S market, have not been up for multibrand. And now all of a sudden, they’re like, ‘OK, let’s try it’…They were willing to do deals with us, negotiate with us, willing to come into this concept with us, remotely.”
A challenge, however, due to the coronavirus has been the unpredictability of the current climate and supply chain disruptions. Commercial shipments via aircraft are more difficult and costly these days, while ship vessels offer much longer trips in comparison and therefore mean longer lead times for companies.
“We sure hope that it’s getting better, but Italy, as you probably know, they’re having a bit of a spike in COVID-19,” said Parsons. “Milan is starting to impose lockdowns again, which is bad news for them and for everyone. I actually don’t anticipate that import-export is going to get any better or less expensive for some time, until we’re able to open up more tourist travel and just regular business travel again back and forth. That’s what’s going to be the trigger to allow the supply chain to move a bit more freely and less expensive.”
Looking ahead at 2021, Mozzafiato plans to open brick-and-mortar shopping experiences, identifying 20 markets in the U.S. and Canada. The in-store experience is equally as important as e-commerce, said Parsons. And while fragrance and skin care are a focus, the company is exploring adding color cosmetics to its list of categories next year.