This semester, I am an intern for Fondazione Monnalisa. I will always remember the excitement I felt when I received the email with my acceptance letter. They picked me! I couldn’t believe it. I applied for this specific internship because it combines my two passions; fashion and charity. Upon first glance, Monnalisa looks like a fancy children’s clothing store. However, it really is so much more.
The best way to comprehend their story is to start at the beginning. The founder of Monnalisa is Piero Lacomoni. In 1968, Piero and his wife, Barbara Bertocci, opened the first Monnalisa store in Arezzo. The dynamic duo is not only skilled at making beautiful apparel but also making a difference. Fondazione Monnalisa is all about embracing the social responsibility towards those in need mentally, physically, socially, or fiscally. Many of you may be asking, how? Through education, training, and charity shops Monnalisa has changed many lives.
Last week, I was fortunate enough to visit two Monnalisa charity shops. Piero is very involved and full of vigor when it comes to his businesses and charity ventures. At first, I didn’t know what to expect from this job because I’ve never worked with such prestigious people. However, I was blown away by Piero’s kindness and warmth. He is the happiest man I have ever met and it is impossible to be unhappy in his presence. You would never believe that this man is 78 because his work ethic and spirit are so full of life. Piero and Barbara are both pure of heart and I feel so lucky to have met them.
Moreover, working with Piero is not only fun but also inspiring. I think the biggest takeaway from my first week was the importance of creating connections. Fondazione Monnalisa is not what it is without its partners. The various moving parts of the organization allow it to be as successful and impactful as it can be. Piero also values the importance of family and partners with his son’s wine company in order to create more profit for the charity. Other sponsors include Kinisi Impresa Sociale, Provincia di Arezzo, and the Monnalisa stores. Piero and his team are great communicators because they are charismatic and persuasive. I sat in on a meeting with Fondazione Franco Zeffirelli and took note of how conversational, yet assertive Piero communicated. The object of the meeting was to create a partnership with the Franco Zeffirelli foundation in order to open more charity shops around Italy. Although the meeting was in Italian, I could still understand the banter and strategy at play.
On this same trip, we were given a tour of the Franco Zeffirelli Museum. We saw the many costumes, awards, and set designs of Franco Zeffirelli. The coolest part was the private tour of the Oratoria. I was so appreciative and shocked at the hospitality of the Franco Zeffirelli Foundation. I think my favorite part of this internship is feeling like I’m not only closer to my career goals, but also closer to making the difference I want to make in the world.