Lavinia Davolio is the founder of Lavolio, a range of luxury Italian confectionery presented in beautiful keepsake tins. Her delicious Nutty Mini Eggs feature in our latest edition, the Refresh Box, and have been a firm favourite with our subscribers.
We chatted to Lavinia to find out more about the brand and what inspires her.
Where did the idea for Lavolio come from?
After losing my job in banking, I knew I wanted to follow my passion and create something that revolved around my passion for food. I enrolled in cookery school and started experimenting with different products, and it was then that I had the idea to use this traditional Italian technique, which is to create sugar-coated sweets using a revolving copper pan. It is a very slow, manual and artisanal process. Every single sweet takes up to five days to make.
It was the idea that I could make a box of chocolate more exciting, a really unique experience and very memorable, which led me to launch Lavolio Boutique Confectionery at the end of 2013.
You mention that you started your career in investment banking: making the move from the traditional corporate world to entrepreneurship in more creative industries seems to happen for a lot of women (including me!). Why do you think this is?
Depending on your ambitions and your dreams, I believe that some people are more prone to entrepreneurship than others. I had to face redundancy because of the financial crisis and at that moment I decided that I wanted the opportunity to do something I felt more passionate about. But then I always wanted to be an entrepreneur, even before banking. I find that embracing changes and exploring something new is a real motivator, it keeps my energy up, and I really love learning new things.
What’s the inspiration behind your beautiful tin designs?
The packaging design is inspired by fashion and by my favourite Italian designers, such as Missoni, Emilio Pucci, Etro and Moschino. I feel that the look and feel are very feminine and elegant. I think that our customers appreciate that the tins can be kept and reused as little storage boxes or keepsakes.
I didn’t use a brand agency because, quite simply, I couldn’t afford it. The design is therefore very personal to me: it had to match my vision of elegance, femininity and sophistication. The process of concept creation and design was done with the help of a friend of a friend, who is an extremely talented designer and has helped massively to bring my ideas to life. I still have a notebook full of sketches that I used to send to him using WhatsApp images. I was inspired by my favourite fashion designers, but also by researching other brands’ packaging such as beauty products. The concept of using the metal tins, and the paper wrap inside, still feels like a Eureka moment, coming from someone with very little branding/packaging experience.
Your beautiful and delicious confections are available both online and in your own boutique. How does managing the two sides of your business differ and do you prefer one over the other?
Online shopping through our own website www.lavolio.com and through Amazon has really helped our growth. The revenue from this side of the business is what allowed us to move out of our old office – which was as big as a broom cupboard – and to open our first brick and mortar boutique in 2017. That was wonderful for us and it was only possible thanks to our online business. The best thing about our London sweet shop (one of them at least) is that it gives us another chance to meet our lovely customers face to face, and for them to experience our chocolates and confectionery. Establishing a relationship and a personal connection with them is definitely my favourite part.
What’s next for you and for Lavolio?
Lavolio is a reflection of both the excellence of Italian artisans and of my personality and passion. I do believe that my alternative to a box of chocolates is very special and also appealing to an international audience. I’m on a mission to build a global brand: my goal is to establish Lavolio as the most successful premium Italian confectionery brand in the United Kingdom and, once that’s done, to expand to different geographies. I listen to each customer and implement what changes I can: thanks to their feedback I have opened my shop and created a new range of larger gift tins – the maxi tins collection – and I am now working on developing more delicious products.
We’re big supporters of independent brands run by women here at Moi-Même: are there any female founders out there who you really admire?
There are so many inspirational stories. I really admire Béatrice de Montille, founder of Merci Maman. She has also created a business from her own kitchen table, and she grew it organically to fantastic international success while raising four children.
Running a business can be all-consuming. How do you find time for self-care and what do you do when you have some ‘me time’?
When I arrive home, I take the time to “decompress”. Everyone has a different method, but I love cooking and I do it almost religiously, every day. As you might imagine, I have trained as a chef, so I know a trick or two. Needless to say that I love all things sweet, particularly baking.
I also have my hobbies, they really help me to ensure that I have the time to clear my mind, to relax and to take care of my own wellbeing. I’m learning French, I read, I play the piano and sing in a choir, and listen to Classic FM in the car while I drive, to the delight of everyone who is riding with me!
Especially as a female entrepreneur, I try to maintain a balance between my many hats and my wellness. After all, life cannot be only salads and no sweets…
Thank you so much, Lavinia! If you would like to try the Lavolio range you can find their Nutty Mini Eggs in our Refresh Box, available in our shop or when you subscribe (until our next box is released in July). Or you can head to www.lavolio.com where you can get £5 off any purchase with the code MOIMEME.
This entry was posted on 28th April 2019. Return to Blog.