Today, I visited one of the coolest places I will probably ever get to go in my life, and it was the Sculoa del Cuoio (Florentine Leather School). We even got to see some of the products being handmade and see the techniques being used. This company has a very rich and special history. It was founded right after World War II and they had one very kind hearted purpose in mind, to teach the orphans to work with leather so that they can make a living for themselves. From the beginning, it was evident that this was going to be a unique and precious company. This company preserves its original traditions and values and continues with the techniques it has used from the beginning, even using natural softeners and glue on the leather. It was very interesting to me that they have maintained these techniques, considering most companies today have switched to cheaper and quicker methods for making products. A company like this has true value in a world that is almost completely globalized.
This company occupies a few places in the supply chain, it is the producer and distributor, and it is the only place of distribution for their products that they make. They buy their raw materials such as the gold, linings, and leather from companies all around the world. The gold comes from an antique company in Florence and the lining that protects the purse also comes from small businesses in Florence. They get their goat leather from Greece and Italy, lamb skin from South Africa, deer skin from the United States, Ostrich from South Africa, Python from Indonesia, and crocodiles from Egypt. The most expensive skin to import is baby crocodile since the amount of quality skin they get from this animal is a small amount. With these skins, that are now tanned and prepared in Italy, they make a large assortment of products such as purses, belts, jackets, bracelets, key chains, wallets, and other small items. Sculoa del Cuoio is the only distributor of its products so its primary customers are people who visit their school. I am sure that they have many local customers that are loyal to them and continue to purchase their leather products from there because they know it is great quality. They have even had royalty order some of their one of a kind items, that no one else will have. They also probably get a lot of tourists, like myself, that want authentic handmade leather products and the fact that you can see some of these products being made makes it even more valuable.
This company is quite interesting because they are not solely a manufacturer, but also a school. They teach their students all the techniques and practices they use for leather while still making products to be sold. They have the products being produced not only by the student but also by the master artesians that teach the students. As I mentioned above they use raw materials from all over, with the value of the leather, I am sure that they have it flown in. However, the products that are available locally, such as gold, olive oil, milk and egg whites are probably just dropped off or picked up by truck or car. Generally, the products are only available at the site of the leather school, so customers that wanted to purchase items would have to go there to do so. I’m sure that they would deliver the products in some special cases such as very important customers like royalty. Some contingencies are that since this is not a mass production factory, they can only produce a limited amount of items in a short time frame. They have only one artesian that is permitted to work with the gold so his production is even more limited. Also, since they don’t use machines for most things, doing everything by hand takes a longer time. Another contingency is that the items that they work with are so expensive that there is not room for much error when making the products they want to sell. I wouldn’t consider there to be very many safety concerns associated with this business, except when using hot or sharp tools. The obvious environmental concerns in this business is about where the skins for the leather is coming from, with the rarer skins, they must be tagged with numbers that let the customers know that the animals were raised specifically for this purpose. Another concern is the dyes that are used to color the leather, we did not specifically ask about this in this company but I know in other companies there are regulations that must be met. In this business especially, workforce skills are extremely important, they rely entirely on theh skills that their workforce possess. Since everything is hand crafted, the students and employees must know how to use the techniques and processes to create quality products. Another skill or quality the workforce must have is patience, when the students are learning, I’m sure it can be frustrating but they must keep working at it to become proficient. To be trusted with such expensive products the artesians must be very skilled at what they do. For instance, Francesco was the only one that is allowed to work with the gold. It is very clear that in a industry such as this, there must be a great amount of skill.