My name is Donatella Zappieri, native Emilian but of Milanese adoption since thirty years.
From my country of origin I have treasured my joy of living, the pleasure of cooking and the bond with solid province values; the city taught me tenacity, determination and the capability of living at different speeds, as a wife, a mother and a professional.
Since I was a child, I loved to choose clothes and matching outfits: I was fond of colour mix rather than monotone. At college, I started to love earrings and at University, friends were intrigued by my fantasy in selecting and changing jewelry on a daily basis. It is in Geneva that I attended Languages and Interpreting Faculty (ETI). Still today, I realize how much all these years away from home have strengthened me, helping me to mature and giving me the ’imprinting of world citizen” that still today people tend to recognize in myself. At the time, I didn’t fully realize that language expertise would have helped me so much in my work, in the relationship with the others and the capability to develop a good empathy with people of different cultures and languages.
After University, I left Geneva and decided to settle in Milan; the right point of departure for my career.
I started working for a year at Pomellato flagship store: it has been my first “christening” with jewelry. Even though I didn’t have a solid working experience, I showed strong will to learn, humbleness and sensitivity to the product that I already felt being part of me.
Pomellato represented an important and fundamental step to build my professional base, my sense of aesthetics and my capability to establish good relations with people.One year later, I took the opportunity for a new role at Gianni Carità – jeweler from Naples – with a PR office in Milan. Thanks to this challenge, for three years, I gained experience in communication and image building: from photo shooting to television shows, I was also in charge of fairs stands set up, I dealt with suppliers and I was the counterpart to international clients. Thanks to this experience, I built my personal network of professional people, as well as experience and know how.
‘Learning by doing’ and quickly, so I changed once again and accepted an offer in the pharmaceutical field at Recordati. Some people thought it was a crazy choice but for me it was extremely formative since I discovered that also in such a serious environment you can contribute with the right portion of good sense and good taste. In a few months, I became Responsible of Licencing Relationships, organizing events and participating to international seminars and conventions.
In 1991, jewelry called me back and I joined Swarovski Italy. At that moment in time, the jewelry Department was very small and my first responsibility was as Area Manager for Italian market. The Italian subsidiary grew fast also thanks to my contribution and during the various international meetings I understood that my skills were not only about the aesthetic of the jewelry but I was able to recognize the commercial value of each single piece I would select to put into the collection.
In 1994, the International Management asked me to create from scratch the Jewelry Division for Europe with a reporting line to the Creative Director in the United States. I took the challenge and I started to build from a stylistic, strategic, productive point of view the European jewelry collection, listening and positioning the product based on commercial needs but also showing a strong interest in the taste and style that European market was requesting at that specific time. This was the key: collections were innovative, with right price point and with that special wearability similar to precious that market was missing at that specific moment.
My department grew, from two to eight people, the collection were sold not only in Europe but also internationally and the lines from the initial one – the Classic – also developed into Crystal and Fashion.
I believe that success stays in my capacity to mix the aesthetics with the market needs, launching collections that clients wish to wear, contemporary but with the right balance of timeless.
I cannot define myself a creative person because in reality I do not design, hence I can foresee trends to come, prepare a creative brief, work on sketches with designers, choose the right manufacturing unit and launch the product to market.
Since 2010, I work as freelance and since five years I am an executive professional. In my consultancy, I am able to keep this right balance between the two souls, the creative and the commercial one. I spot trends but I am able to define the right stylistic choice and direction according to my client positioning. I work on fine jewelry and on fashion jewelry knowing all the different production techniques. Even if I do not design I can, “read a sketch” and I am able to find the right manufacturing techniques according to target cost.
Through the years I have nurtured a designer network with the ‘right hand “according to the client requirements and I have a good network of suppliers and producers according to the metal and techniques to use.
I love to share my professional background with young generation and this is why a portion of my time is devoted to teaching. Different schools in Geneva and Milan where my seminars and lectures go from trends and collection structure analysis to pricing and individual coaching, as well as the specific organization of management classes.
This path and the capacity to run so many projects at the same time with seriousness, accuracy and passion make me a reliable professional, “a corporate woman,” who knows the market and its different shades mainly because of this constant possibility to have new challenges and new objectives.