We had the good fortune of connecting with Cristina and Laura Capitanio and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Cristina and Laura, what is the most important factor behind your success?
Authenticity. My sister and I started our business 26 years ago. We were in our 20s and pretty clueless about business strategies, marketing etc. We did not have a solid business foundation and we had a beginner understanding of the American culture. We were 2 young Italians that came to LA with our heads full of dreams and lots of enthusiasm.What we did know was that we wanted to paint murals, that we were capable, and fully dedicated to our client’s satisfaction. We have to give credit to the few designer that decided to put their trust on us and even offer their mentorship. Some hard learned lessons were inevitable, but we eventually implemented the use of contracts in addition to the proverbial handshake ! I think that people liked us and wanted to work with us because we never pretended to be someone we were not. Still today we argue passionately about colors decisions, shapes and techniques. Our art studios functions pretty much like an Italian kitchen: driven by passion and full of noise, flavor and laughter.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Laura and I are the founders of Sorelle Fine Arts, LLC. Our company designs and create murals, faux finishes, and hand-painted /gilded products for the interior design industry. We are classically trained in Italy and our native culture permeates everything we create. After more than 25 years in the business, we also seek innovation and excitement. We are always learning new techniques and implementing new technology. We are fascinated by the juxtaposition of old and new and we see that as a recurring theme in what we do. For example, our latest project is to use the very old technique of verre eglomise (reverse glass gilding) in a modern, abstract application to make backlit panels. We are very intentional about keeping our operation small and boutiquey. This allows us to be hands-on and to take on only projects we know we will truly enjoy. In our team we are mostly women, we believe that we have to do our part to empower and support our gender in the competitive interior design business.
It was not always easy to do business at Sorelle Fine Arts but we kept counting our blessings. Perhaps for an artist one of the hardest challenges is when a patron does not share your taste and vision, it is natural to take this very personally. We found that to overcome this problem we need to keep eggs in many different baskets, for us this translate having different projects going at once.
One of the most important lessons for us was to learn to keep in action and keep our word despite our feelings. To have integrity and stick with our commitments even when we really did not feel like it.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Hopefully my friend will come in summer because we will definitely take advange of the many outdoor concerts in town. Our first concert and picnic will be at the the Santa Monica beach, by the pier. We will enjoy the summer breeze and sip on a good California wine. Lacma jazz night will be our second and we will repeat picnic and wine. On a different night we will go to First Friday on Abbot Kinney to enjoy the food trucks and quirky atmosfere. We will doll up for dinner and show at the Magic Castle to enjoy some of that old Hollywood charm but first we will stop at Yamashiro for a cocktail and a pick of the amazing view . During the day we will definitely visit Matador Beach, the skyslide in downtown, or we will go for a hyke in the Palisades possibly a silent hyke with composer Murray Hidary , then drive down the PCH and have lunch at Jeffrey’s, where we’ll hopefully spot someone famous. We will ride a bike or electric scooter starting from Playa del Rey towards Santa Monica and we will stop to see some ladies friends that meet in the morning on Venice beach to boogie board and hoola hoop. We will indulge on some doughnuts in Inglewood where Krispy Cream has a window from where we can watch the doughnut’s chainmaking. When in the mood for dancing we will go for salsa night at the Descarga where we will catch a impromptu burlesque show . Spend the day at Olympic spa in Korea town soaking in black tea and getting a sugarscrub. Paul Getty or Geffen museum for summer nights with a dj will be another favorite. Last day, before I take her to the airport we will go our friend Nial’s warehouse in west Adams. Nial is an Irish restorator extraordinaire an incredible story teller, we will do some Wiskey sampling while he recites Irish poems.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
First and foremost is always mom. She was our biggest fan, our cheerleader and she is still very much with us. We see her in our facial expressions and in the shapes of our body . We dedicate our best work to her and when we are stuck we ask each other what would mamma do? We also met a number of angels that came in our life at exactly the right moment. From designers to clients to friends that took upon themselves to help us succeed .
Lastly we have to give credit to LA, the city of dreams. Nowere else we found such diversity, positive attitudes and inspiration. It has been said that cities have souls, in LA we found our soulmate.