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Andrea Bergamaschi

Owner & Creator of Amour de Gitane

Floral Artistry

This is her interview just translated from Relevant.com

"Relevant Stories is the section of Relevant.com that tells the experiences of creators, small entrepreneurs, digital nomads, and individuals who have left traditional jobs to pursue an alternative project, chasing the most ambitious goal of all: living the life they desire."

To continue to flourish

A bit about Andrea taken from her Relevant.com interview.

If you think it's too late to change your job and start over, this story is for you.

Too often, we identify ourselves with our profession and convince ourselves that it's the only valid option for the rest of our existence.

The pattern is more or less like this:

  1. Choose a study path to secure a good job.

  2. Accept the first job offer as if it were a blessing from heaven.

  3. Settle for that job for the rest of your life.

At most, you might change the company or sector, but the story remains the same.

Some people, however, find ways to explore different paths and gradually approach the life they truly desire.

This is the case for Andrea Bergamaschi, a Floral Artist based in San Francisco, who in 2020 founded Amour De Gitane, a floral studio specialized in floral arrangements for weddings and events, after a long series of life and professional experiments.

The full Story

I met Andrea in 2019 during a Service Design summer school in Sicily, and even at that time, he had already lived three or four different lives.

After completing a three-year degree in Fashion Design in Milan, Andrea starts working as a designer for some famous fashion houses.

She designs clothing for Italian and international brands and oversees the production, but soon realizes that world is not for her.

She decides to try something different: she ventures out on her own and launches her brand of tailor-made clothing, proudly made in Italy.

To do this, the support of her family was crucial, especially her mother, who provided tangible help in getting the brand off the ground.

" She was my pillar in this project. Without my parents, my brand would not exist. It was a very formative experience. When you start your own company, you find yourself running and taking on a thousand different roles. I designed clothes, produced them, managed customer relationships, sales, and communication. It also shaped me personally from the moment I made the decision to close it. It took me a long time to process it."

After four years, indeed, the business had not become profitable enough, and Andrea continued to clash with the dynamics of an industry, the fashion industry, that was not very inclined towards ethics and transparency.

"I derived satisfaction from it. My coats were sold for €800, but I wasn't earning anything. The Made in Italy supply chain has too high costs. Then, retailers prefer to pay the big brands first, leaving the artisanal producers last. Some didn't even pay me at all. In the long run, it had become unsustainable."

She then decided to close the company and move on.

She started a travel and lifestyle blog where she began to share her adventures around the world, approaching it with great dedication but without turning it into a full-fledged profession.

Writing was not my passion, but it was therapeutic. The blog, however, did not go badly. I had built a following and started receiving some products to promote with my content.

During the same period, she manages a bar inside her parents' restaurant in Rimini. She tries to introduce bubble tea, a beverage she had discovered during a trip to California, which would become a global trend a few years later.

However, the timing and the location are not in her favor, so after a year, she decides to change direction again, seeking something that would allow her to make a positive impact on the world.

She turns to UX design.

She takes a course at Talent Garden in Milan and finds a job in one of the most well-known Italian companies in the design world.

She starts with an internship contract, works for a year, but the professional experience does not satisfy her. Before receiving the offer of a permanent position, she resigns.

"I'm allergic to contracts. I'm the daughter of entrepreneurs, and feeling trapped in a company, having to follow schedules and orders, is not for me. Moreover, working all day on the computer made me anxious."

In the meanwhile, her parents' company, specialized in renovations, secures a significant contract for the refurbishment of a small hotel in Morocco. Andrea assists them by managing the branding, interior design, and communication strategy. The riad immediately receives bookings and excellent feedback, but two months after the opening, the COVID-19 pandemic hits.

"It has been two challenging years, but today the riad is doing well, and it is the project that has given me the most satisfaction. I still remotely follow the creative activities and those related to the hotel's identity, but I've realized that my life cannot be exclusively tied to the hospitality industry in Morocco."

She enrolls in a flower farming course for fun (cultivation of flowers using completely natural techniques and rhythms) and experiences a revelation.

"For the first time in my life, I felt that I had found my passion. I needed to return to creating something with my hands. Cultivating flowers is a practical and elemental gesture that can have a significant positive impact on the world if done in the right way. Moreover, I have always sought beauty in the world of work, and flowers are beauty in its purest form."

Through practice and spending time with flowers, Andrea discovers that she is more inclined towards composition than cultivation. So, she deepens her skills by taking floral design courses.

She borrows a small unused family warehouse, refurbishes it, and starts creating wreaths in her small workshop, selling them online.

In the meantime, she practices working as a wedding photographer to improve her photographic skills applied to floral compositions and takes the opportunity to observe the work done by florists during events.

Shortly after, she moves to San Francisco, where her husband had been living and working for several years.

"It was a shock. Here is the global hub of floral design, and the standard is very high, and I didn't know where to start. I sent emails to shops and studios in the area. No one replied for almost a month. Then I receive a contact from a San Francisco shop looking for a florist. I was only half happy because I'm not good at working with customers, especially in English. But it was the only opportunity I had, and I accepted it."

She starts working in the shop, participates in some weddings, and establishes several contacts. One year later, she goes solo, works as a freelance floral designer for the best floral studios of the area, and opens Amour de Gitane, her brand specializing in floral arrangements for weddings and events.

Today, Andrea dedicates herself entirely to her floral design business and expanding her customer base by actively seeking and receiving new commissions and collaboration requests.

In the future, she aims to grow her brand and return to Europe.

"My goal, however, is to return to be closer to the family and because I miss the lifestyle we have in Europe and in Italy. However, there is a different mentality there, and the freelance culture is not as prevalent. If I return to Italy, I will focus almost exclusively on my brand."

In closing the interview, Andrea tells me that she feels fortunate to have had the opportunity to make these changes, travel, and study, and she credits her parents for this opportunity.

Having a family that enables you to explore paths that suit you is undoubtedly a significant factor, but after hearing her speak, I am convinced that there is much more behind her incredible story.

Recognizing what makes us unhappy is crucial. We often tend to suppress negative feelings related to our profession because "we are paid well," "it's part of the job," or "there are worse situations." Andrea experienced this several times in toxic environments, unpaid work, and anxiety-inducing dynamics. The truth is that nothing should ever come before our well-being, and if we even sense that the path we've taken is not for us, we must take action to change course.

Accepting defeats is part of life. Failing is not the end of the world. Andrea had to close her clothing brand, abandon the idea of the bar, resign from her job as a UX designer after investing a significant amount of time, energy, and passion in each project. Abandoning a path we thought was right can be painful, but life goes on and always finds a way to lead us to what we truly are.

Believing in one's ideas wholeheartedly. Talking to Andrea, I was amazed at her ability to fully dedicate herself to every project she pursued, as if each path were the definitive one. I admire people who wholeheartedly believe in their ideas, proudly stand by them, and this is a concept I want to adopt for my future adventures as well.

Never stop learning. If you reread this story, you'll notice a constant in all of Andrea's experiences: courses. Each new path required learning new skills, from fashion design to UX, photography, flower farming, and floral composition.

Courses and workshops allow you to acquire the skills you need and, above all, to meet new people and open up new opportunities.

See the big picture. Work is only a part of our existence, and the work we do today is not necessarily the only job we should aspire to. Instead, it is useful to consider ourselves as eternal freelancers, professionals with each our set of skills that we enrich through everything we do every day for work and in our free time. Seeing things in this way helps consider the overall picture of our life, never feeling trapped, and always being ready to seize the opportunities that arise.

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