Spotlight: Martina Capriotti
Co-founder of Mirta
Interviewed by Lauren Hogan
Meet Martina Capriotti, co-founder of Mirta, a company supporting and enabling Italian artisans to be present in the online world and sell their high-quality goods in international markets.
Before founding the company, Martina’s experience working with luxury brands in Asia inspired her to return to her home country so she could share ‘Made in Italy’ products with the rest of the world. Read on to learn more about her inspiration, the obstacles she and her co-founder have faced, and what success means for her.
What got you started in what you do? What was the initial concept?
I was working in South Korea and Japan as a consultant for local luxury brands. I saw a huge interest in 'Made in Italy’ and an opportunity for Italian companies. However, I also recognized the difficulties of small Italian companies to approach these unique markets. That is when I decided to contribute to bringing ‘Made in Italy’ around the world by helping small businesses. At the same time Ciro, my co-founder, was at Stanford and learned many important lessons related to the startup world. We combined our insights and Mirta was born.
What is one of the biggest obstacles you have faced starting your business?
When we launched Mirta, Ciro and I had to do everything by ourselves. From looking for artisans to building a website, doing marketing activities, and sending boxes. For sure it was a challenge as many things we were doing were new for us but this was also the fun part as it made us literally touch every step of the process, and learn a lot.
In terms of entering the Chinese market, the biggest challenge is probably the high competition that is unique to the fashion industry in this country. However, we really believe that offering a highly customized and human experience can make Mirta a big player in the Chinese market. We value the human connection and the storytelling at every step of the consumer journey and that is certainly a plus to distinguishing ourselves from other players of the industry.
Did you always want to work in this industry, or did you have other aspirations growing up?
When I was young I wanted to become a volleyball player. I’ve always practiced sports but I definitely have a strong passion for volleyball. I think it taught me many things that are still valid and useful to do my job. Volleyball made me understand what being a team player really means and how important it is to collaborate with other people to achieve big goals. Also, playing volleyball taught me that you can’t give up even if something seems impossible - if you have a cohesive team you can all trust each other and overcome difficult times.
This is exactly what I see in Mirta’s team - each one plays a fundamental role in the team, to build something new and bigger every day. Ciro and I started alone, but today Mirta is growing thanks to the team as a whole. I believe that sport and business speak to each other in terms of values and dynamics - I see many similarities between the two worlds!
Teamwork and trust are such important foundations! What goal do you hope to accomplish this year?
First of all, we are planning to expand our catalogue and onboard more artisans. We recently launched the category of home accessories and textiles but in the next months, we will be adding more products and more categories. This goes along with the growth that we are planning in terms of expansion - we want to boost our presence in the USA and in Asia (our two strongest markets) and in order to do this, we need a vast offering that can be appealing to a wider audience. In 2021 we are focusing on building a strong presence in the Chinese market - we are working a lot on social channels, like RED and Wechat - and we are also planning to collaborate with KOLs as we did for our first Chinese New Year campaign this year.
Who inspires you?
I often look at other entrepreneurs and take inspiration from them and from their learnings. A great source of inspiration for me is Whitney Wolfe, Founder, and CEO of Bumble. She went through many things in her personal and professional life but she never lost her tenacity and perseverance. She started from zero and built her own business after leaving Tinder (where she was one of the founders) and had the courage to put into practice everything that she learned in previous experiences. To me, the most inspiring characteristic is the ability to accept a defeat and make it a positive experience to learn from. That is the most important skill that an entrepreneur should have and Whitney Wolfe is a great example of this.
What is one of your biggest learnings through your entrepreneurial journey?
These past couple of years I’ve learned that every market has different needs, pace, and peculiarities. What works on one side of the world does not necessarily work on the other. When approaching new countries we always do some tests to see if we can actually be of interest to the audience we are speaking to. So far, this process of “test and learn” has always worked well for bigger projects but also for small ones. China is surely a great example of this as it is unique in terms of culture and language but also prominent in terms of consumers’ interest in luxury and Made in Italy. Here, the biggest challenge is to understand how to adapt our business to the market, but the biggest learning of all is to do small but quick steps along the way.
If you could work anywhere in the world, where would it be, and why?
Thanks to past experiences I’ve had the opportunity to travel a lot and work in different countries like Japan and South Korea. Each one of those experiences was particularly important for me personally and professionally. However, at this moment of my life, I can only see myself living in Italy where I came back to in 2018 to start working for Mirta. Being here allows me to be physically closer to the mission of Mirta, that’s why as of now, I wouldn’t be anywhere else.
What is success for you?
To me, success comes when I see other people as interested and passionate as I am in Mirta’s mission. This gives a feeling that we are all part of one big project and also it makes me feel like I am moving in the right direction. In the future, I hope to see more and more clients, artisans, team members, and supporters engaged in what we do to have a bigger impact on society. Generally speaking, success is determined when the impact of what you do resonates with a large number of people.
To find out more about Mirta you can find them at:
Mirta.com I Mirta.cn