Francisco the Guilder, Day 6

Ciao everyone! This is our second, and unfortunately last day in beautiful Florence, Italy. Today we visited Scuola Del Cuoio, a leather school that was started in 1950 by a few young brothers. Eighty students, most of which were orphans, were the first to enter the school. Because these students became experienced after a few years, the school began to sell their products to the public. Scuola Del Cuoio is both the primary manufacturer and the downstream supplier in the supply chain of their leather products. The company acts as the primary manufacturer because it assembles all of their products using the materials received from the upstream supplier. In addition, it also serves as the downstream supplier because they sell their final products to the customers of their store. At this company, I observed the theme company/organizational issues because they valued organization and precision to create their high quality products.

Initially, Scuola Del Cuoio acts as a primary manufacturer in the supply chain hierarchy. They use the materials that were made by the upstream supplier to create their leather products. For example, they buy alligator skin from Mississippi, ostrich skin from south Africa, goatskin from Greece, and deer skin from Virginia. First, each kind of leather must be treated with olive oil, milk, and egg whites twenty-four hours before assemblage, to moisturize it. After it is properly treated, Miguel, a man who has worked in the school ever since it has opened, assembles each product by hand. The stitching, however, is sewn by machine to guarantee the customer a strong, long-lasting product. Also, because every product is assembled by hand and not mass-produced, the school categorizes themselves as a workshop, not a factory. If you buy one of their leather products, they guarantee that no one in the entire world will have the same one as you. This process is extremely difficult, as you need to be very precise in each step of the assemblage. Precision is key because even if you mess up a single part of the bag, you must dismantle the whole product and start from scratch. After the product is completed, designs are often impressed onto the leather by a guilder. This process is applied through the dora tora technique. In fact, Francisco, the guilder for Scuola Del Cuoio, is one of the last guilders in all of Florence because it is difficult to find people who are interested in craft making this day in age. The design process begins by brushing melted, twenty-two carat, pure gold all over the area where you want to create the design. To impress the design onto the leather, Francisco first heated a tool up in a fire. Once the tool is at the proper temperature, Francisco applied force to the leather with the tool, solidifying the gold onto the leather in the form of a design. To reveal the final design, Francisco used a piece of cotton to wipe away the excess gold.

Scuola Del Cuoio has two different types of customers, the students that pay money to get an education in leather making, and the actual customers of their store. The company is a downstream supplier because they sell their services and products directly to customers.  There is no prerequisites to be accepted into the international leather making school and the students go through either a three or six month program. The school teaches their students everything down to the basics of making a handbag from scratch. After the students have completed the course, they often go back to their home country and begin making leather products there. The other customers of Scuola Del Cuoio are the people who directly buy their products in their store. These primary customers include tourists and wealthy individuals of Florence. The wealthy is a large portion of their clientele because of their high prices based  on their excellent quality, as well as the fact that they are handmade. Scuola Del Cuoio’s primary products include handbags, leather jackets, bracelets, wallets, and shoes.

I agree with the company’s approach to the way they handle the supply chain of their leather products. This observation is based on their successful history and high quality leather products. They have continued to grow over the years by sticking to how they originally started, making handmade products. Also, by continuing to produce high quality items, Scuola Del Cuoio stands out among the many other leather making shops. Other things that I experienced today was the garden, a gorgeous “museum”. It consisted of many bushes that were trimmed to create designs, a pond, and statues. I even sat on the grass and just relaxed with a few friends. The garden was a really peaceful place.

While visiting Scuola Del Cuoio, I observed the theme company/professional issues. The company values the quality of their products highly. In order to achieve such expectations, the company is run in a smooth, organized way. There are stations set up for each part of the process when making the products. Since it is very well-organized, each station specializes in one a single step in the process. In turn this allows the product to be as close to perfect as possible. The only thing that is informally run is the designs on the accessories, which is up to the guilder’s creativity. Overall this trip to Scuola Del Cuoio showed me just how intricate some of these companies are when making their product. It was truly pleasing to watch them create such beautiful pieces.


Leave a Reply