Lola lovely gift
The Clash, arguably one of the best rock bands ever, released their hit “Should I stay or should I go” in 1982. To go or to stay. Andare or Restare. The question is reminiscent of Hamlet’s existential ponderings, and continues to arise for thousands of Italian youngsters as they attempt to escape Italy’s current deteriorating economic situation.
A couple of years ago I asked myself that same question, singing that song like a daily refrain. Today, here I am in Melbourne, happy, curious and young enough to start my life afresh (again and again).
While in your twenties, moving abroad is an exciting adventure and an opportunity to learn about life, the choice seems harder when it involves the whole family.
I asked the Maranzan’s, a family of four, to share their experience moving from Vicenza to Melbourne, and explain to us their courageous choice.
“When we relocated to Melbourne, My husband Loris and I were both in our forties, while our kids were 6 and 8”, Grazia reveals. “It’s not easy at all to leave your certainties behind to start over in a new country, of course it’s a lot easier for a young single person with no family”.
Back in Italy, both Grazia and Loris were both employed in the jewellery industry, an area that is now facing a tough historical downturn. This was one of the reasons that convinced Grazia and Loris to pack their suitcases: they wanted to give their kids a better future.
I ask Grazia about the children’s experience of immigration. Was it a challenge?
“The first months were critical”, she says. “My kids didn’t know a word of English and that (presents) problems with socialisation. We enrolled them in an English school for migrants and after 6 months things improved with their ability to speak. Now they’ve got such an Aussie accent that you would never know they are Italian!”
During our chat, Grazia also tells me that her husband was born in Canada. A traveller from birth, he’s well experienced in the pros and cons of immigration.
“Loris moved to Italy from Toronto at the age of 10, pretty much like our kids. He really knew what to expect but also that we would all be fine eventually. Relocating seems like a huge mountain to climb, so just take one step at a time and don’t overthink. In a family, everyone needs to support each other to overcome difficulties.”
Many challenges were faced and today Grazia is very proud of her family and their ability to integrate into a totally different lifestyle. “When my friends overseas ask me if things here are the same as Italy, I always answer that they’re exactly the opposite, and I’m not just talking about driving on the left!”
After settling down in Australia in 2012, the Maranzan’s opened “Lola Lovely Gifts”, a shop in Thornbury, home to a wide range of items like jewellery, bags, scarfs and more, by some of Italy’s and Australia’s best designers.
“In Italy I had been a sales manager for ten years. I enjoyed every minute of it; I am passionate about customer service. In Melbourne we first started as wholesalers. Lola Lovely Gifts is just the natural evolution of our commercial strategies: we know what to import and where to place it in the market.”
About the choice to sell Italian design, which is largely appreciated in Australia, Grazia says: “We try hard to find a reasonable price-quality compromise when we’re looking for new products to bring here. We also like the idea of helping all those Italian brands that have a remarkable history, amazing products and an enormous potential but are struggling due to the economic crisis that has hit the country in the last few years.”
Grazia has also created a personal brand called “LOLA”.
“It started as a hobby. I was playing around with some beads and pieces, just because I have this passion for jewellery and then, people really liked my work so I refined my skills to make a collection in silver and natural stones. Some of my customers also ask me to fix and ‘give new life’ to some old dusty necklaces. You should see their surprise and the satisfaction at the end of the job! That really makes my day!”
So, what is Loris’ role in the shop?
“Basically I’m the Queen of the shop”, says Grazia “while Loris is the Lord of the warehouse and book-keeping. We compliment each other and I am really happy, he’s fine and our marriage is safe!”