Our visit to the leather school was one of the most unique business experiences especially because it was completely different than any company I could ever imagine visiting. This family-owned business creates every leather product from scratch by hand. They have neglected the concept of mass production in an attempt to give the artists an opportunity to create unique designs. The artist Francesco demonstrated engraving in gold. The manager mentioned that Francesco’s skills allow him to choose his own design for the coasters. This allows for most products to have unique designs, unlike the companies that mass produce their products. In addition, Francesco teaches students because the workers of the leather company want to preserve tradition and very few artisans of his age are left.
Even though The Leather Company designs everything on their own, the supply chain is quite intricate, especially because of all the leather skins. There are a few specific raw materials that the manager described. One was, of course, the skins which arrive from various countries. However, all of these skins arrive at The Leather School from tanneries in Italy. Then, the tanneries deliver these skins to The Leather School primarily by truck because these tanneries are in Italy. Once they deliver the skins, The Leather School artisans create the handbags, wallets, belts, and accessories. These then reach the end user through their purchase.
Another essential primary product is Texon which protects the leather. The Leather School receives Texon from local suppliers who receive it from manufacturers in Italy. The artisans then use this for their leather products and sell it to the end users who are the customers that purchase these products. In addition to Texon, another primary product is gold in order to decorate and engrave their products. Francesco is the artisan who works with this gold and embellishes the coasters, belts, bags, wallets, and bracelets. The Leather School receives its gold from a gold company located in Florence. Similar to the other primary products above, the end users are the customers who purchase the products. I was happy to hear that The Leather School recycles the gold from Francesco’s work in order to reuse this for additional gold designs. Can you imagine how much money they would waste if they weren’t recycling? I could buy every product from the store with that kind of money! Although the manager did not discuss the transportation, we can assume that the raw materials are distributed through truck especially because all the companies are based in Florence.
The end users for The Leather Company are the primary customers of this product, These customers are typically middle or upper-class consumers because of the high prices of this stores. This may be the first and only company that I believe has every right to charge higher prices due to the time and effort of the artisans. In the workshop, we observed that every artisan creates the bag by hand which allows them to create unique designs. The manager stressed The Leather School as a non-mass production company and authentic leather. Thus, consumers pay a higher price which is feasible for the middle and upper class. The Leather School has products for everyone and all ages, not just males or females.
The Leather School has an informal organizational culture in order for artisans to express their creativity. They have established a close-knit culture which allows the artisans to feel comfortable with remaining at this company for a long time. Very few people possess the ability to create this type of design and the number of students constantly decrease. Thus, The Leather School aims to retain their artisans and keep them content with their job. In addition, the international students work closely with the artisans in order to gain hands-on experience. This type of shadowing is only possible in companies with informal, friendly cultures because it allows established employees to provide personal training to incoming workers (in this case, artisans).
Florence and The Leather School have been absolutely beautiful. I’ve never witnessed a company with intense values of creativity, uniqueness, and emphasis on personal relationships. This city is overwhelming with tourists, vintage architecture, and contemporary brands. I hope to return one day and specifically visit The Leather School to observe whether there are changes in the artisans and products. Next stop: Verona, a town which I have very little knowledge of so I’m beyond ready to explore. Until next time- Ciao!