With your permission, I will write this text as a story, mine (Nicola Donghi) and my wife’s, Luisa Locatelli‘s (the one who made this dream come true).
Our company was unofficially founded in 2010, the year in which a series of unfortunate events soon led to the birth of “The Goodfellas’ smile” brand.
Today we might call 2010 our lucky year, but my wife and I certainly didn’t see it that way at the time.
That was the year Luisa lost her job due to the “economic crisis” and the year home loans skyrocketed (and we had just taken out a 30-year loan).
Suddenly and without warning, our family was only supported by my work as a designer.
As the months went by, our (already meagre) bank account dwindled rapidly, while the mortgage remained sky high and the difficulties we were experiencing began to become unbearable.
Even the weekly shopping was becoming a serious problem to deal with.
Still, I needed a shave.
I remember it was a Saturday morning;
For at least 15 minutes in that mall, I stood there in front of the shelf with a pack of 4 Mach 3 spares in my hand.
It makes me smile to think about it today, but I didn’t have the money to pay for them and the fact that those plastic parts cost so much drove me crazy.
I came out of there with no spare parts but with an idea; to make myself a razor.
I was a designer, for crying out loud.
A couple of months and a few phone calls (full of suggestions and teasing) later I had my first shavette in my hand.
It wasn’t beautiful, but it worked and the hairdresser near my house could supply me with blades.
However, the thought quickly crept into my head that others might have the same problem as me. Maybe others couldn’t or didn’t want to spend so much money to shave but had no alternative because finding razor blades, shaving soaps, razors and everything else was a titanic task to say the least.
So after work I started spending all my evenings (and nights) in the garage building and polishing razors with borrowed tools while my wife spent entire days perfecting them trying to make them beautiful, usable and therefore sellable.
Within a short space of time, everyone was desperate to buy one, and we didn’t have time to prepare them and they were already sold. We couldn’t even believe what was happening.
The obsessive attention to detail for which my wife has always been known finally had a field of application!
A year later, our brand The Goodfellas’ smile was officially born. From that moment on, our only desire was to be able to make products dedicated to traditional shaving available to everyone at the right price.
So we started making deals with manufacturers large and small. Soaps, perfumes, brushes, accessories and more. We soon realised that everyone wanted to buy what we had available, from private individuals to shops, and at the same time the garage was full!
So, shortly afterwards, Barbieri Uniti Srl was born.
Our import-export company dedicated to traditional shaving and men’s grooming.
In the space of a few years, we have brought everything possible to Italy, we have helped small producers grow who could rely on us to sell their products abroad and foreign producers could do the same in Italy.
In the same way, we have helped physical shops to grow and make themselves known, and others to be born.
Our aim has always been to grow by helping others to grow. Today, Italy is the European hub of traditional shaving and there is no shop in Europe that does not have commercial relations with us, and this is an honour and a source of great satisfaction for me.
A few years ago we were working in a garage, today we have 10 employees, a warehouse of 1500 square metres… and no mortgage to pay.
The path is marked out and we will only find out what the future holds for us as we go forward, but we remain convinced that
our commitment, our honesty and our way of working are the solid foundations on which to lay our future.
Today I am 37 years old and the advice I would like to give to anyone reading this is just one, and it is the same advice Lisa Simpson gave me many years ago through the tube television:
“believe in yourself and you will get what you want”.
The “Lisa Lionheart” doll line was a complete failure and didn’t make a dent in the Malibu Stacy market, but that phrase has always worked great for me.