TOP WOMEN: LUISA SPAGNOLI.

Luisa Spagnoli, born in Perugia in 1877, was an Italian businesswoman, known mainly for the creation of the Perugina Kiss and for the chain of clothing stores that bears her name.

In 1907, together with Francesco Buitoni and Leone Ascoli, he opened a small company based in the historic center of Perugia, Perugia, with fifteen employees. With the outbreak of the First World War to run the factory remains only the Spanish lady with children Mario and Aldo. When the war is over Perugina is already a factory with more than a hundred employees.

In 1923 Annibale Spagnoli retired from the company due to internal friction. This is the beginning of the love story between Luisa and Giovanni Buitoni, son of the partner Francesco. For Luisa, now on the board of directors of Perugina, also begins the commitment to the construction of social structures that improve the lives of employees. He founded the nursery of the Fontivegge factory to ensure that women who worked in the company did not have to give up motherhood. In addition, many sweets produced by her sends them to the military in the trenches to be able to eat and give him strength.

It is said that the Kiss was born from the idea of Luisa Spagnoli to knead, with other chocolate, the hazelnut fragments that were thrown during the processing of sweets. The result was a strange chocolate with an irregular shape, reminiscent of the image of a closed fist, where the most protruding knuckle was represented by a whole hazelnut. He was called “Punch”.

Giovanni Buitoni, at the same time CEO of Perugina and president of Buitoni, not convinced that it was a good idea to propose chocolates to give called “punch”, wanted to rename them with a more suitable name. Thus the “Kiss” Perugina was born. The first cartouches appeared in the 1930s, although Federico Seneca, the then artistic director of the company, did not initially consider them as romantic as those we know today .

A version that has the flavor of legend tells us that Luisa had the habit of writing short messages to her lover Giovanni Buitoni, wrapping them around the chocolates that then sent him to check them. It seems that Seneca, inspired by the aforementioned unspeakable love story, wanted to tie this sweet thought to the chocolate forever. So today between chocolate and silver wrapping we still find a message written in various languages.

In the 1930s his son Aldo (1906-1992) was the creator of the advertising campaign linked to the radio broadcast The Four Musketeers.

At the end of the First World War, he also launched into a new enterprise: the breeding of poultry and angora rabbits. The rabbits are not killed or even sheared, but lovingly combed to obtain angora wool for the yarns. Born in the suburb of Santa Lucia l’Angora Spaniards for the creations of shawls, boleri and fashionable clothing. The reporting at the Milan Fair as “excellent products” pushes Luisa to multiply efforts: 8,000 farmers who send to Perugia by post the combed hair away from at least 250,000 rabbits.

Luisa will not be able to see the real takeoff of the company that will start about four years later under the guidance of her son Mario. She is diagnosed with throat cancer. Giovanni Buitoni moved her to Paris to provide her with the best care and remained with her until her death in 1935 at the age of almost 58.

In the forties, in a period in which many suffer from hunger and cold, the Spanish gave their workers for Christmas shirts, socks and wool for a value of 4,000 lire, a fortune for those times. The Santa Lucia plant had a pool for employees. They build row houses for employees (still existing), they organize crèches for children, they promote dances, football matches, competitions, parties.

“An exceptional woman in mind and heart” so said Giovanni  Buitoni of her.

A creative, enterprising, courageous but above all generous woman who, through her good fortune, brought well-being to many people and promoted the working life of women.                                                          I adore this woman because despite the historical period and despite the contrasts she had with many people during her career, she has always remained strong and never gave up.  she did so much for the women of the time and gave strength to many wives who were widowed by the war; she is  a woman to take as an example.

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