Apulian entrepreneur and founder of Cibelle Experience, Raffaella Gemiti, lets us in on a little (big) secret: There exists a recipe of 3 Cs – competenza, cuore, and coraggio. These three pillars – competence, heart, and courage – have the potential to turn a mere hobby into a 24/7 successful, full-time job.
For as long as she can remember, Raffaella was perpetually surrounded by ‘cose belle’ (beautiful things). Her affinity for fashion and the will to constantly grow has brought to life an embroidery brand, Cibelle Experience.
From first sight, the ‘granny embroidery’ can be considered as a last-last season craft. Raffaella admits to receiving several comments concerning her career choice from people who reference the lack of demand for embroideries due to a change in taste. That, of course, did not stop her.
Cibelle is a sustainable start-up for Made in Puglia textiles, following a slow design process and made-to-order pieces. Inspired by the historic site of Castel del Monte on the hill of Andria, one of Puglia’s most important agricultural centers, the Cibelle logo tributes the monument’s celebrated octagonal form and the spirit of Apulian authenticity.
The name Cibelle is inspired by her grandmother’s exclamation phrase in Apulian dialect ‘Ci bell!’, meaning ‘How beautiful!’ Her maternal grandmother, en passant, is an embroiderer, and therefore she was born among the sewing kits. Bringing this nostalgia for craftsmanship, Raffaella found a way to reference her family heritage and design embroidered accessories for the home. Along with a trusted and creative team, she produces tablecloths, napkins, and placemats, to mention a few, all made using European linen.
“When I started with this brand, I chose home because my family has a company with which they produce fabrics. The company is called Gemitex, located in Andria, Puglia. So we already had ad hoc suppliers and trusted people who knew what we were talking about and how a tablecloth had to be finished,” says Raffaella. After pursuing her qualification in Fashion Business at Marangoni University in Milan, her father was among the first to motivate her debut. Cibelle captures the expertise acquired by her family and peppers in customer experience. “When you prepare a table and put fruit, ceramics, or other accessories on the tablecloth and cobblers, it is a way to complete the work that I have in mind.
Today luxury also relates above all to being able to create healthy relationships with the customer, which is built through transparency.
To offer a unique experience to a customer is the ‘cherry on the cake’. Raffaella draws inspiration from a great well, with love for nature and strong women spirit, that comes from her grandmother and iconic women in history, intertwined – creating alluring aesthetics. Combining the inspiration that Raffaella seeks in nature, she believes that Cibelle’s products must convey the spirit of vacation. The simple things remain imprinted in our memories, be it a tablecloth tracing flowers, the hometown landscapes, or the smile of family members, filled with joy and energy for life.
Raffaella’s day begins casually, without a strictly pre-planned schedule. She wakes up early at 6 or 7 a.m. and, in bed, usually writes down notes she kept in her head the night before, quite like brainstorming. She arrives at the office at 8 a.m. to conduct scheduled meetings, mostly touching upon the production processes to keep things under control as the business grows. At times Raffaella personally signs in-package notes herself. Afternoons are dedicated to drawing or helping design new prototype products for Gemitex.
While culture and style are constantly changing, Raffaella believes that the essential values in life – family, love, tradition, and craftsmanship – supersede time. What remains for the current and future generations to embrace is carrying on the tradition in a new-fashioned way. “I believe that my way of looking at Puglia and telling it through my embroideries comes from the luck of traveling a lot. When you meet many people from different cultures or even discover different territories, you realize how unique each place is,” confesses Raffaella.
In Raffaella’s Footsteps
We asked Raffaella to share her favorite spots in Puglia:
- Valle D’Itria – Alberobello, Ostuni and Fasano
- Lido Pettolecchia (Savelletri)
- Masseria Moroseta (Ostuni)
- Casa JMG in Polignano a Mare
- Gianfranco Fino Viticoltore in Manduria
- Enza Fasano in Grottaglie
- La Peschiera
- Il Melograno in Monopoli
- FriselAnna: Anna Dello Russo, a good friend of Raffaella and a person who owns one of Cibelle’s handmade cushions designed with basil and tomatoes, has opened a place called FriselAnna in Cisternino with a menu full of friselle. She also opened a pop-up store that offers friselle in Lido Calamaka.
- Raffaella also spends some time in Bisceglie at Golden Cliff beach, another ambitious project of her family. Here, Cibelle will open a small pop-up store in August and September.
How to contact Cibelle Experience
Via N. Barbato, 2
76123 Andria BT
+39 0883 555 269