Isabella has just turned 26 years old but she’s already a globetrotter of 3 continents.
Today, she lives in Antwerp, Belgium: the last destination that has brought her to work as Junior art director at Hedgren,(handbags and travel gear).
“I’m from Como and I always loved to create with my hands. That’s how at 16 years old I left the linguistic lyceum to start a fashion and textile course and then, thanks to A.F.S., I could do my first experience abroad”.
Her “Abroad” is not just around the corner: 1 year in India in Chennai at Lady Andal Venkatasubba Rao School. After graduation she started the fashion and textile design course at NABA in Milano. “But I felt like going abroad again so I went to Turkey with the Erasmus program at the Yeditepe Universitesi” A ring around the Rosie that started from Ethiopia after her bachelor, 5 months in Addis Ababa to follow fashion projects for Village Industry. In March 2014 Hedgren Called from Belgium. Isabella stops? As if, the first phase of her job sees her relocation to China. “I’m now in Antwerp since 1,5 years. I like it here, it’s a nation that believes in youngsters”.
Isabella Allegri From The Setificio school’s desks to Antwerp passing through Addis Ababa, India, Turkey and China.
26 years old and a lot of experience abroad. Despite her young age Isabella Allegri has lived in numerous peculiar countries before stopping in Belgium.
She has started it with AFS (1 year in India) while she was studying at Setificio School and then with the Erasmus program (6 months in Istanbul) while she was attending the Fashion and textile design BA course at NABA in Milan.
Then Came Ethiopia and after that China with the Belgian company that has now brought her to Belgium.
How did you find your first job abroad?
I have found my first job abroad in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, through my mentor at University.
Marina Spadafora is the fashion designer for Altro mercato; At the time she was following a project for PINKO and sent me to Village Industry the company that was following the production. With that came the relocation to Addis Ababa for a period of 5 months. I have found the next jobs moving to Belgium and simply applying online.
What is the difference between the working environment in Italy and Belgium?
I find the Belgian working environment more meritocratic than the Italian one.
Being young and a woman is still a disadvantage. I don’t have less decisional power than my male colleagues but I do perceive a lower salary.
Have you had difficulties in the beginning?
I’ve picked peculiar destinations for my first two jobs, Ethiopia and China so it goes without saying that I had to overcome difficulties both at work and in my private life.
Which attitude should you have to deal with such important experiences?
What helps me in life is my incredible empathy and perceptiveness. I don’t always feel part of the nation I am living in but when I do, It’s because I try to live like the locals. The world is filled with eccentricity that make you laugh and sometimes irritate the hell out of you but I have understood
that “right” and “wrong” are completely relative; it’s necessary to analyse situations from many points of view. If you adopt the point of view of the local, for example, it’s much easier to accept the reality in which you’re living.
What do you think of Italy’s economic situation? How would you improve it?
I get sad when I see that Italy is not able to take advantage of its own virtues.
We have a perfect territory, a lot of talent, a lot of genius minds, we are the heir of incredible historic heritage... I can only compare us to a football team with the best of players and the worst of coaches.
We are not coordinated and we are frustrated because we are eager for change but everything gets shut down before it can ever happen.If I would like to solve the economic crisis I would invest in the younger generations. Italy should become the mouthpiece of hope, change and creation. The beauty we could create is unimaginable, I truly believe it but Italy is chasing the best of its future abroad.
Are you planning to come back to Italy? If so, what would you like to do?
I may come back when I’ll retire from work to enjoy food and places.
What do your co-workers think of Italy?
Italy is for Belgium a beautiful tourist attraction with good food and picturesque places.
A lot of people from Belgium and Holland drive many kilometres to spend a week in the northern lakes or catch a plane to go to the south. Italians are perceived as a culture of MACHO so that our TV programs are mocked for their misogyny. They wonder how Italian women stand to watch certain programs in which young soubrette shake and dance like they only were pretty furniture in the background.
What advice would you give to young people that are about to start their academic study?
I don’t think there is a better path than another. Choose instinctively and if you feel a thrill at the thought of a course instead of another, I would suggest to take whatever makes you feel it even if it’s less secure on paper. Everything will come of use and will contribute to create your unique background.
I have found my fist jobs because of my unique background…There is plenty of talented people out there but only if you follow your thrills you can differentiate e and create a path that belongs to your ethics and interests. Even failure is a great allied! I wouldn’t have my current job if I wouldn’t have failed elsewhere and I would have looked around in that exact moment.
Work environments have an extreme need of people with passion because way too many people are frustrated with what they do. If you are frustrated too, you won’t go very far. If you wanted to study law but you realize after graduation that you want to become a plane pilot instead, my advice is: “Do it!”.
Don’t become a doctor because it looks safe and straight forward. Nobody wants to be cured by a disinterested doctor but there is always who, in the world, will need a Lawyer with wings.
We can’t pretend to box your generation into known paths. Because of internet you are bombarded, you constantly stimulated by information and no generation before yours has had to adapt to that.
Your vision on the world is broader than ours. You seem not to have a focus but that’s only because you will required to be many things at the same. It is not a weakness. You are adapting to living in a very hard society and we can’t fully prepare you for it. You’ll have many fights with old schemes but my best advice is to Mind your happiness because it is of vital importance to all of us.