Launching a Millennial Artisanal Cosmetics Business During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Starting a business is always a big adventure, but if we add to the mix being millennials dealing with the Italian Kafka-esque bureaucracy and a global pandemic, you get a truly unique experience – to put it mildly!

Let’s rewind to a few months ago. We were getting ready for our pre-launch party, taking place at our HQ in Bologna on the 13th of March. Emails and invites had already been sent. During our weekly virtual meetings, we wondered about what could happen and how to keep things running for the launch while still being responsible due to the spread of Coronavirus in Northern Italy. Our due date for the launch was set as April 17.

As they say, the rest is history. During that week the cases of Coronavirus in Italy spiked, , the lockdown was enforced, and the fear spread. In many ways, the set-up we were already using for Opera Zero – that of smart working and eCommerce, have proved themselves farsighted and pandemic-proof. But there have been many other factors that came into play, which  we could not have foreseen or controlled in any way. For example, many suppliers of the cosmetics industry have converted their production and directed their focus on sanitizing products – meaning that a small artisanal business like ours fell  way down their priority list and capabilities.

Without the raw materials and mandatory “green light” from cosmetics entity Cosmetica Italia, our lab production came to an abrupt halt.  During this imposed break,  some of our raw ingredients might even expire before we are able to use them, making it a lost investment.

In addition to all these practical issues and concerns caused by the delay, there is  of course, the human component and impact on our mental health. How do we manage our workflow during this crisis? It’s an unprecedented and unsettling experience that sees our deadlines postponed indefinitely and where the future looks more daunting than promising.

Having said that, with all these unexpected twists and turns, we are learning a lot about adaptability, resilience and connection – and our anticipation of seeing Opera Zero finally launching has nothing but increased! We cannot wait to see our efforts come into fruition and for everyone to discover what we are all about once we finally launch.

Things we have learnt during the quarantine

Martina - Marketing & Communication Team

  • That even if one day seems the same as the previous one, you never know how you will end up feeling on that day

  • I really don't like cooking, even if I have all the time in the world to explore new recipes

  • That taking care of my plants gives me great serenity

  • That we need social networks that translate from the virtual to IRL

Liz -  Marketing & Communication Team

  • That I never get bored - in fact, as a true Capricorn, I embarked on more projects than before during quarantine

  • I love living by myself and I am aware that it is a luxury and a privilege, but during a pandemic it can get heavy to be alone. Luckily my cat Fidel kept me company!  

  • I missed friends and family. Aside from my health, human relationships are the most important thing. Supporting each other, even if virtually, allows us to face those difficult moments together

  • That hugs are truly irreplaceable!

  • When cooking every single meal, I end up spending 40 percent of the time washing the dishes or cooking. It was wonderful to eat the first meal in over two months at a restaurant (Lebanese) – falafels never tasted so good! I appreciate the commitment of the hospitality industry even more and I learned not to take Berlin's international cuisine for granted

Mai Vi - Founder / Amministratrice

  • That it’s beautiful to wake up every day as if every day is Sunday

  • That I am a privileged woman and that understanding my role in this system is fundamental

  • That we are living in a very important historical moment made of revolutionary changes

  • That spirituality and activism for me are the same thing

  • That I love my furry babies so much!

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