My name is Lietta and I’m the mind and soul behind nonna lietta. I’m 34, half Greek, half Italian and was raised in a small city in the beautiful island of Crete. My love for art, fashion and knitwear was mainly cultivated inside of me by my Italian grandmother, who studied Art in Rome . She was a fashion mogul, a sewer, a knitter, an artist and as I was growing up she deeply influenced me while always supporting my little creative personality. I graduated with a major in international relations and European law and linguistics but fashion had already stolen my heart. After a 14 year career in fashion retail and freelance studies in fashion design, I decided in 2017 that it was time for me to focus what I’d long been dreaming of, creating my own knitwear brand!
Could you tell us why you started your business and what inspired you to start?
I have had a fond love for knitwear since I can remember. My grandmother was a great knitter and knitwear designer, she also taught me how to knit and that helped me learn a lot about the knitting process and techniques, the yarns and patterns. I had long been dreaming of starting a knitwear brand but back then, sans social media, starting a brand was much more complex and fashion was very different from what it’s know, I think. It was only in 2017 that after moving back to Greece from Belgium, I felt it was the right timing to take that big step and start a brand on my own. From the very start and till now my biggest inspiration has been and will always be my late grandmother and the beautiful childhood memories we created together. Nonna means grandmother in Italian and as we share the same name the brand was named after her. Nonna Lietta will be forever be dedicated to her.
I can see you started Nonna Lietta in 2017, so you have been running it for a few years now. How would you describe your journey so far? Has your initial vision for the business changed in these four years?
I started working on the ideas around which the brand would have been evolved in 2016. In 2017 and after a lot of research I traveled to Spain where our first manufacturer was located. A lot of travels and ups and downs in between and nonna lietta officially launched June 2018 ! Fashion and especially ethical fashion knitwear is very challenging in all its aspects from designing, production, knitting, material outsourcing and presentation, there are so many different factors involved in the process. Yet till now, the path has all been beautiful, educative, challenging but also so rewarding both on a personal and a professional level. I never stop learning and that makes the journey even more interesting. We started as a knitwear brand with a deep focus on sustainable resourcing, ethical / nature-respectful practices and ecological raw material developing and that hasn’t changed till now. Our brand range is steadily expanding and slowly evolving keeping those ideas at the core while presenting our pieces to the public with a keen eye on art and photography.
What inspires you when designing for Nonna Lietta?
Everything! Art, people, places, fashion history, architecture, vintage knitwear. Being on the move or standing still, watching-listening to people when just sitting randomly on a bench. Though I will always have as a point of reference for my inspiration the knitted pieces my grandma Lietta has created for her, and for me and that they will be forever cherished.
How do you want people to feel when wearing Nonna Lietta?
People always deserve to feel loved so when wearing one of our pieces I want them to feel loved and cared after. I want them to feel more than ok to just be themselves and if by wearing one of our pieces adds to that then cheers to that too!
How do you maintain a work a work life balance?
I really don’t have a definite answer to that but one thing I can tell is that experience and maturity made this balance more achievable in time. I am a workaholic, I love my job and some things work related come very natural to me, learning to slow down was something I had to learn to accomplish along the way. Being an entrepreneur and running a business on your own puts a lot out in our basket, I’m sure many people can relate and like with all things, at the beginning, it is difficult to manage work and personal life all at the same time. Growing up, making space to enjoy life outside of work is of utter importance to me in order to seek for inspiration.
What are your hopes and dreams for the future?
I like to dream big and small all at the same time. Have many plans, big ideas and wonderful projects for nonna lietta and some are hopefully already on the way. Developing and growing our brand, becoming as transparent, sustainable and creative as possible remain at the core of what I hope for this brand.
What is your biggest piece of advice for female business owners and those wanting to start their own business?
Go for it! Dream big but be grounded. If you really believe in it then give it a go. If the resources are small or non existent search as much as possible to find a way to fund or support your dream. Determination, persistence and study are the key. Falling, doing a lot of mistakes and rising is part of the game also.When I started talking about my dream of nonna lietta many years ago to my family they yelled at me and didn’t really believe in what I was talking about. I never listened to anyone telling what I should or shouldn’t do in life, life is in our own hands.
Discover Nonna Lietta below:
Instagram - nonnalietta
Website - nonnalietta.com