Caterina and Maurizio, whose Italian parents expatriated and returned from Switzerland, managed to become known as masters of their profession within 13 years of opening a laundry in one of the ritziest areas of Milan, by impeccably cleaning the elegant garments of their utterly loyal clientele. Over time, they have come to specialize in “restoring” bridal gowns transformed into “battlefields” by day-long celebrations.
Wedding gowns that served as battlefields for barrages of rice, tens of toasts, and spectacular cake cutting action. Garments only a few family-owned laundries are capable of “restoring”, and not necessarily right after the honeymoon.
In fact, some brides simply take off their gown, put it a bag and take it in for cleaning years after saying “I do”, perhaps with mud still underneath the train, “wounded” by the lipstick that fell in-between kisses, and yellowed by the passage of time itself.
Just like the Peruvian lady, a fashion designer’s daughter, frantically looking for a laundry that could bring her wedding gown back to its original glory after learning it would be featured in a fashion show thirty years after her father made it for her. Following someone’s recommendation, she eventually walked into the elegant building near Porta Romana in the outskirts of Milan, where Dolce Laundry is located. The laundry is named after its owners, 53 year old Caterina and 43 year old Maurizio Dolce, whose family is originally from the region of Lucania. Two widely acclaimed masters of bridal gown restoration who rose to fame in just 13 years by providing top-quality professional services and skillfully building relationships.
As witnessed by the Peruvian client, whoever sets foot in this laundry receives a warm and “sweet” welcome. Cordial words and mannerisms instantly convey that no matter what the problem is, they are truly willing to “listen” and assist you. “I always say that garments lacking a nice big stain are not as much fun to clean”, states Maurizio Dolce, with a sincere smile on his face. And this is certainly the right attitude for facing the challenges posed by bridal garments, which are notoriously long, heavy and, theoretically, blindingly white. These three characteristics alone clearly indicate the physical effort and outstanding skills required to lift, turn, examine inch by inch, wash, remove any stains, and restore the gowns to the condition that elicited so many “wows” of astonishment (and envy) on the day the bride finally appeared on the threshold of the church or town hall.
When she picked up from Dolce, as you can imagine, the Peruvian lady was ecstatic and close to tears at the sight of her gown looking just as beautiful as it did on the day she walked back out to the street, hand-in hand with her lucky husband. Her long white gown, lovingly designed and tailored by her father, was ready to face any runway after being restored by the Dolce siblings.
“By now I know that the more stained and wrinkled the gown is, the more fun the wedding was” -says Caterina – “it effectively shows that everyone involved had a blast, which is only right on such a memorable day”. The brides who bring in their gowns further validate this by sharing how emotional they were upon arriving at the church, how happy their friends were, and how much fun everyone had partying and dancing the night away.
The same friendly and caring atmosphere greets everyone who enters the shop; one lady is gleefully welcomed back from her summer holiday, while another is encouraged to visit her daughter, who just moved to Spain. “It’s been that way – says Caterina Dolce – ever since we enthusiastically and somewhat recklessly bought the business from the previous owner, who wished to retire. You should also know that our parents emigrated to Switzerland. My brother and I were born there, but after working in different sectors we both truly longed to build a professional reputation in our ancestral country. We managed to achieve this kind of results by learning how to use our machines, and how to build and maintain a good relationship with every customer who comes to our store”.
“It truly is an on-going, full-time commitment – explains Maurizio – especially these days, when you have to maintain a constant presence on social media, where business contacts proliferate. Now that we are also on Instagram, as suggested by the florist at the corner, all sorts of VIPs are showing up, including famous television personalities and mainstream media bloggers. They contact us because they understand from the photos that, being in this neighborhood, our laundry primarily deals with designer clothing, evening gowns, and formal wear. Evidently, even in a metropolis like Milan, there are very few family-owned professional laundries, so they all come to us. And we, obviously, always do our best to please them”.
Between one smile and the next, Caterina and Maurizio shared how important this challenge was for them, and how they won it by focusing solely on quality. They did it by working for the toughest judges of all, clients who trusted them with their most precious garments, and passed each test with flying colors.
by Stefano Ferrio