Feludei and Felù: from Milan to Positano

Initially big brand manager and then jeweler in one of luxury tourism’s hot destinations. Federico Dinelli and his opinion of the US import market

With thirty years’ experience in the jewelry sector and a past career as manager in Milan-based companies, such as Versace for jewelry and watch lines and then Tiffany & Co., all Federico Dinelli needed was to jump over to the other side of the bench to experiment every aspect of the luxury sector. A leap that he took together with his wife, Margherita Cattabeni, who was initially manager of the boutique in Monte Napoleone and then of the Milan showroom for La Perla brand. Always luxury and always Made in Italy. Then, three children and an extremely busy life later, they suddenly decided to change pace. And to do so, they chose a tourist destination which was, perhaps at that moment – 2008 – furthest away from jewelry: Positano. “There wasn't a single jewelry store in the whole of Positano that offered anything other than the local tradition or that of Torre del Greco, in other words, the classic horn-shaped good luck charms that you find everywhere in and around Naples. So, the idea was to create something that didn't yet exist, something entirely dedicated to "made in Italy" and perfect for those who have been travelling to Positano and the Amalfi Coast since the glorious Sixties: namely, Americans," Dinelli says. “And so, we began by doing a series of experiments and literally trying every possible route: from classic to fashion, to niche brand, until we found something that could work. The first obvious point was to focus solely and exclusively on Made in Italy, therefore, on brands that the American public was already familiar with or, in any case, in line with their tastes. From the already cult Marco Bicego and Roberto Coin and on through Pasquale Bruni, Crivelli, Mattioli, Pomellato, Pippo Perez and K di Kuore plus a few unbranded but always 100% Italian pieces. To date, apart from a few pieces of "local" jewelry, such as the traditional horn-shaped pendant at about €150, our entry prices range from around €1,000 to several tens of thousands of euros. Among the most popular pieces are certainly Bicego necklaces, much loved by US customers, and trends of the moment such as necklaces with the Madonna medal: if I had had another 200 in stock last season, I would have sold out for sure. Covid has shown, however, that while in difficult years for our industry – I’m referring to the post 2008 crisis period - Positano was certainly privileged and did not suffer a drastic drop in sales as other high-end tourist destinations did, in 2020, with 90% of foreign tourists absent, the collapse was definitely felt, and how! Geographically, Positano is in Italy, but, strangely enough, its business is not with Italians, and not even much with Europeans and other markets. Therefore, summer 2021 didn’t show the signs of recovery as other places did because most of the tourists came either from within Italy or from northern and eastern Europe. Swedes, Danes, Poles, Romanians...we had never seen them before. For this reason, our ability to adapt really had to pull out all the stops. More than in other situations. Being totally dependent on a single destination is therefore a double-edged sword, and dedicating ourselves first to a clientele that came from New York rather than Utah, Florida or California, and now to a public with very different tastes, has not been easy. Felù, our second store, also located here in Positano and which focuses on silver jewelry, has certainly suffered less. There we have a selection of at least forty brands, from Misis to Roberto Giannotti to Rubinia to Maman et Sophie, plus a "taste" of Italian watchmaking with Locman and Capri Watch, a local phenomenon that entertains tourists with its ultra-colored Swarovski. As for best sellers, when it comes to gold, bracelets and necklaces are certainly in top place with earrings being a little less popular simply because they are two pieces and cost more or, in any case, need to be tried on, while rings still have their market but are perhaps more of a gift for a special occasion than a vacation souvenir. These rules don't apply to silver items. The more basic price makes everything easier."

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