By Giulia Leo / Staff Writer
Eleonora Scaiola is a JCU student majoring in Communications and Media Studies and minoring in Entrepreneurship and Art&Design. Her creative spirit and sparking personality have taken her to accomplish great things. Not only is she the Vice President of the JCU Fashion Club, but she also recently launched her brand of handmade clothing and accessories in collaboration with her mother. A few days ago, Eleonora and I sat down to have a chat about all of this, over—once again—a virtual coffee.
When did you start your studies at JCU?
I started my studies at JCU in the Fall of 2018. Before I made my choice, however, I spent some time in Dublin, trying to figure out the best road to take. It’s funny how one of the classes I’m taking this semester is called “Living the Good Life,” because that’s the phrase I would use to describe my time in Dublin. In the end, I decided to come back to Rome with a great enthusiasm to start this academic journey.
You are the Fashion Club’s Vice President at JCU. Tell us something about the club and your active role in it.
I joined the club in Fall 2019, and I have been involved for two years now. During my third semester at JCU, I remember getting a call from the previous president of the club, asking me to join. Carolina knew about my passion for fashion and thought I could be a great addition to the team. I got very excited about the proposal, and I instantly accepted.
I started as social media coordinator, then I became the event coordinator, and, finally, I was elected vice president two semesters ago. I like to think about the Fashion Club as a family, rather than a student organization. The club is very close to my heart, and I truly believe in its potential. What makes the Fashion Club stand out is the way in which we approach fashion. We look at it from an entrepreneurial and business point of view, studying big Italian brands in order to learn from the best.
What are your duties in the club?
Our club can be defined as “atypical,” as there are no specific duties: we all do a little bit of everything. In particular, together with Norma Ambrosio, the president, I am responsible for devising and logistically implementing the entertainment and educational activities that we schedule for our members. As a club, we are very dynamic, and always try to do our best to come up with new activities and events for our community. We also try to collaborate as much as possible with other JCU clubs and departments. On this note, I suggest readers to keep following our social media, because we have big surprises coming up!
What would you say are the things you’re most passionate about?
This is a hard question. My dear ones know that I believe in living life to the fullest. The way I pursue this goal is by always trying out new activities. I’m very curious and dynamic by nature, so it’s very easy for me to get excited about something new. As a consequence, I’m interested in very different things. At the moment, in addition to my passion for the handmade world, I’m also very into interior design and architecture.
You own a fashion brand that you manage with your mother, so I think it’s fair to say that your passion of the handmade has developed into a business. Tell us more about your brand.
We decided to call the brand Jophiel, which is the name of the angel protector of the arts. We produce and sell handmade clothing and accessories, made with premium Italian materials. Our products are designed for those who want something unique and handmade. All that we sell is customizable and produced with the outmost attention to details.
We are currently at the beginning phases of this new project. I launched Jophiel’s Instagram page only three weeks ago. Although managing the brand is a completely new experience, it doesn’t really feel like so, since I could say I grew up in this field. In 2010, my mother opened her first knitting shop. I grew up among yarns of wool and cheerful women who spent entire days in our shop, laughing and making handmade clothes.
Thanks to her shop, my mother got in touch with a costume designer from Rai 1. Since then, we have been making knitwear for TV series and films. The first film we contributed to was Un Matrimonio, by Pupi Avati. We also produced clothing items for Ricchi Dentro, a movie with Sabrina Ferilli and Sergio Castellitto, the TV series Il Paradiso Delle Signore, and Il Commissario Ricciardi.
How did the idea of creating this brand come to you?
This is actually a very funny story. It was in 2012, when my mother asked me to open an Instagram page to promote her handmade work, but I never did it. Then, only three days before the Spring 2021 semester started, I saw my mother teaching crochet to a group of women in a small shop in Grottaferrata. She has been teaching people the secrets of her profession for a very long time, and she takes so much enjoyment in it that she does it for free. The image of her sharing her passion with those women stuck with me for that entire day. That night, when I was in bed, I smelled something strange coming from the bathroom. Our Jacuzzi had broken, and the room was flooded. I interpreted it as a sign of destiny. That day, I had spent too much time in the tub, freeing my mind from any worrying thought. Now, someone was telling me to stop relaxing and start making sense of my time.
That same night, I started making a round of phone calls to my friends, asking their opinion on opening an Instagram page to sell handmade clothing. At 2 a.m. I called my friend Alessia, who told me she really liked the idea. After two days, she became the creative director of the brand. I owe a lot to Alessia for her support during the creation of Jophiel.
Thanks to the help of my friends, in the last three weeks, the Instagram page began to take shape and gain popularity. We did a photo shoot at the JCU Studio Art in Largo Fiorentini, using students as our models. The pictures we posted seemed to really engage the users, and I felt incredibly accomplished.
What would you say is the mission of Jophiel?
Our current mission is to inspire the younger generations with our handmade products, by promoting slow fashion. Ours is a conscious and wise approach to fashion that deeply values the traceability and high-quality of materials. This means that we produce items that are unique and that last long. Handmade, however, is not always synonymous with well-made. That’s why we always try to highlight how our knitting tradition was developed by women who have done this job for centuries.
Was it your mother who instilled the passion for fashion in you?
Absolutely. My mother is a creative soul. Believe it or not, she learned how to crochet at the age of 3. Now, all the clothes she wears are designed by her, and made by her trusted seamstress. That is why I believe that her expertise, together with my young creativity, can really make a difference in the fashion industry.
Where do you see your brand in five years?
I cannot really tell you where I expect my brand to be in five years, but I can say that, for now, I see it growing quite fast. Two week ago, for instance, we received the first request of collaboration from Virtus Magazine. The magazine is edited by the students of the Accademia del Lusso in Milan and aims at promoting young talents. Virtus wanted our pieces to be included in their next issue, which will be published online in a few days. I don’t know what will happen next, but I would like for my brand to be the promoter of a more conscious approach when it comes to buying clothes to give back the right value to the priceless art that is Italian handmade!
What are your dreams and aspirations after graduation?
As I told you, I am a very dynamic person, and I see this small brand as a starting point. I’ve been working in summer touristic resorts since I was 16 years old, and I’ve recently become a radio speaker for one of them. It’s an environment that fascinates me, as does the world of entertainment in general. I really like design, and I would also like to do something related to this field. I have a very clear idea about the future, but I don’t really think I need to set any limits for myself. I want to experiment as much as possible, and I think that, perhaps, my studies in entrepreneurship will help me achieve that.
By this time, we had already been talking for more than half an hour, and both our coffees were cold. I thanked Eleonora for dedicating some of her time to our little chat, and, after wishing her all the best for her future and the one of her company, I pressed the red button on my screen.