The Amalfi Coast, 2006
Phoebe here – Deborah’s eldest daughter and one quarter of the Dello Mano family.
This year marks Dello Mano’s 13th birthday. What started as a humble stall at the New Farm Farmer’s markets, has now grown into a booming online business with two stores and all the heart of a small family business. I’ve now worked in the stores for the majority of my life and I’m often asked the origins of the name Dello Mano – what does it mean? Where does it come from?
Well, the short answer is that Dello Mano is a (slightly corrupted) Italian phrase that means ‘of the hand’. But the long answer, in my opinion, is much more interesting…
We started Dello Mano after a life changing trip to Italy in 2006. I was a mere 8 years old, excited to be on my first overseas trip and, most importantly, overjoyed that I was visiting the exact same locations that had been featured in the Lizzie Maguire movie. Suffice to say I was somewhat preoccupied and wasn’t quite aware of my mother’s full intentions for the trip or the significance that this experience would ultimately have on the rest of my life.
After a successful 20+ year career in food science and corporate marketing, my mother knew it was time to build something of her own. A business that she could nurture from the ground up. Something meaningful that would channel her passions. But after 20 years in the corporate world, how do you break out of that bureaucratic thinking and leap into an entrepreneurial life?
My mother, a true creative, decided we would abandon Brisbane for 6 weeks and travel to Italy (the home of great renaissance painters, inventors and romantics) to hopefully spark inspiration. So off we went. My mum, my dad, my little sister and I packed our bags, disposable cameras and the Lizzie Maguire movie (of course) and embarked on our adventure. And let me tell you, an adventure it was!
My parents booked our first few nights of accommodation in Rome on the internet. Ladies and gentlemen, the internet. Let me remind you that the year was 2006 and online bookings for accommodation were not common. There was no Airbnb. No Wotif. It really was two strangers on the opposite sides of the world putting their trust in one another. Taking this leap of faith garnered some anxiety from parents’ more traditional friends (‘but you don’t even know the person! Why have you already sent them money?’). But at the end of the day, this decision was very on-brand for my mum, a trusting person who can predict the trends and always likes to be one step ahead of the curve.
In true creative-spirit style, after our first few days of booked accommodation my parents decided to improvise the remaining 5 and a half weeks. My dad hired a car from a salesperson (who, in hindsight, was obviously insane and gave us a car that was clearly too big for the impossibly narrow cobblestone streets) and then we were off! Picking locations on the map, driving down the east coast, booking accommodation on the go and letting our hearts lead the way.
Over the next 5 weeks, we had some incredible adventures driving around Italy together in what can only be described as a small bus compared to the button-sized Fiats zipping passed us. As an 8 year old girl, I don’t remember all of the specifics of the trip, but I certainly remember the feeling that I had while were in Italy and it’s a feeling that has stayed with me ever since.
We fell in love with the romance and history of the scenery. A history so great that with each step you ask yourself ‘I wonder what incredible people have walked these same porticos, on these same cobblestone streets’.
We fell in in love with the Italian lifestyle and pace. A pace that says ‘please hold while we craft quality’.
And, most importantly, we fell in love with the food. Not just any food however… Slow Food. Food that requires time, attention and patience. The pinnacle of our trip was attending the Slow Food Convention in Torino – a movement devoted to local food and traditional, handmade cooking. Seeing these artisans filled with passion for their own family business (many of whom were second, third or fourth generation) was a turning point for my parents. We were captivated by the absolute reverence shown toward quality food, made with love and care.
In Italy, food is not just food. Food is a language to express yourself, a reason to reunite with loved ones and a channel to demonstrate your utmost gratitude. We returned to Australia with a dream to bring this incredible food tradition to life and pay homage to the Italian Slow Food Movement … and so Dello mano was created. A name that translates to ‘of the hand’, but means much more to us. To us it conjures memories of our trip: the incredible respect for handmade food and high quality ingredients, the dedication from local artisans, the care and attention to detail we witnessed. We channel these values into Dello Mano and every day we continue to lead our business with this Italian tradition in mind – handmade with love and care.
Well… I promised you the long version. How did I do?