Vanessa Cavallaro: Sharing ancient art online
Being unique is not a gift or a curse: often it is a choice. “I’m one of the last women in Italy who knows how to etch glass by hand using a stone-ceramic wheel, a technique that was invented by the Romans back in the 1st century BC.” Vanessa knows very well that she has inherited an ancient tradition. She lives in Altare, where the Alps meet the Ligurian Apennines: “This town breathes culture and traces of the glass art tradition.” Which has not remained anchored to the past. Just like Vanessa: today, 60% of her business is generated by e-commerce. Unique pieces that are sold worldwide. Even during the lockdown.
“When my studio was closed, it was as if digital technology was working for me. During the lockdown, I made new sales.” The last one came after a post on Google My Business. “I keep my workshop profile updated with new, carefully selected contents, and it’s always growing”. An interest in the potential of the web that goes back a long way, just like Cavallaro’s passion for the art of etching. “I started when I was 22 but have been etching glass since I was 10. I decided to start, out of passion, watching the artisans at work in the family studio”. Then, Vanessa left to study graphic design in Turin. After attending the academy, I decided to return to Altare and transform my parents’ work under my signature.” In 1993 the Vanessa Cavallaro brand was created, rooted in the traditions of the artisan glass masters. However, in this male-dominated world where mechanical etching is replacing artisanal craftsmanship, the turning point was to create a unique, original direction. Cavallaro did this by finding a new public in Italy and abroad.
“I’m a very inquisitive person: in 2016 I completed a “Digital Excellence” course and learnt how to exploit my online tools. The course included 2 days of training at Google headquarters in Dublin. An enlightening experience! There are so many free tools to use. By knowing how to use digital technology I was able to save costs and to sell my products.” Because although people may be able to create pieces that are unique, the real challenge lies in promoting these. “I use digital channels and I do several Google Ads campaigns: they are a must-have for my business.” This is also because Vanessa Cavallaro’s typical customer is often a foreigner. “If you are coherent and communicate what you do, the web amplifies your skills. Especially in international markets, where clients are looking for the story, the expertise”.
An artist, an artisan and an innovator, motivated to preserve age-old traditions.“My dream is to attract the younger generation to my work. You need to show them what it is, how it came to be, why it must survive. In this sense, digital technology can create a new appeal for my world.”