Lorenzo Zenoni is 27 years old, armed with a silver tongue and straight-forward manner. Typical traits of a Bergamo native and he’s always had a knack for business. “I had my debut when I was six months old at a trade fair in Francoforte,” he remembers. “My parents kept the crib between our company’s exhibition stands. I slept peacefully under the duvet. People passing by would stop to ask them if I was a doll. I was sort of an influencer even before it was cool.” Many years have since passed and now Lorenzo is at the helm of the family business, Zenoni & Colombi, along with his four other siblings.

Federico Zenoni impacchetta un prodotto
Photo by Andrea Cominoli

Four Siblings - All for One, One for All
The linen and home textiles company is based in Nembro, in Val Seriana Italy, and today is one of the most visited brands on the Made in Italy showcase on Amazon.it, offering a special selection of products, which are expressions of Italian excellence and unique style.

“Ours is a family business, and we’re the second generation at the helm: there’s Raffaele, who’s 32 and is our administrator. He deals with the paperwork side of things, taking care of the legal issues, real estate, and banking. Then there’s me. I focus on production, as well as marketing, purchasing, and managing our website. Mariagrazia, who’s 22, is the head of Selling on Amazon and Customer Service. Last but not least there’s also Federico, who’s 20. He’s starting out in the Logistics and Delivery sector. All of us do everything: even if the printer needs fixing, we do that too. Each of us knows every single step of the production process as well,” says Lorenzo.

A production process which, as Lorenzo says with great pride, is 100% connected to the region. From the model to the thread for sewing the curtains, all the way to the workforce. “We could have chosen to produce elsewhere to reduce costs, but we decided to focus on quality instead. Our products are 100% made in Italy, with love.”

"Una storia d’amore" - a love story
And love was truly the beginning of the Zenoni & Colombi story. “The business was founded in 1982 by my dad, Adriano Zenoni, and my mum, Emanuela Colombi. At the time, my dad was the sales manager for a looming company in the area, and he traveled all over the world: from the Middle East, to North and Central America, and across Europe...he never stopped. When he came back from one of these trips, he went to a dinner where he met my mother, who also worked in the same sector, because she’s the daughter of a textile manufacturer. It was the classic love at first sight situation.”

I quattro fratelli Zenoni alla guida di Zenoni e Colombi: da sinistra Raffaele, Maria Grazia, Lorenzo e Federico

The plan for building a future together was based on the dream of an entrepreneurial adventure. And so it began, something which over the span of 30 years has become one of the leading brands for home textiles in Italy. From embroidered curtains, cashmere blankets, to tailored goose⁠-down duvets and fine cotton bathrobes⁠—the company’s mission is to help you dress up your home.

Adapting to Crisis
In the early 2000s, a crisis in the industry happened. “My father, a man with great instincts thought he could salvage the situation by selling online. But his timing just wasn’t right, sales on our website were few and far between, and ultimately the experiment failed.” The economic crisis in 2008 complicated things even further; the financial impact was awful. “We were not selling a lot, we were going to have to close the flagship stores as well.”

We all rolled up our sleeves and decided to get on with it. At 20 years old with a can-do attitude and no intention of giving up, Lorenzo joined his family’s company after having finished high school. “The situation really had us tearing our hairs out. I spent the first two years going around Italy acting as a representative for our company. I realized that the old sales model was becoming outdated⁠— expenses were high yet returning very low yield.”

Changing the Rules of the Game
Lorenzo then asked himself: “What if we tried selling online again, only this time directly to the client?” The only problem was figuring out how. “We had a well-established tradition centered on high quality that we wanted to uphold, so we were looking for a partner who would respect that. In the meantime, Dad had passed on the reins of the company on to us, and he was the one who suggested selling on Amazon at the time.”

Scatole brandizzate e tessuti all'interno dello stabilimento Zenoni & Colombi

And so, in 2017 Zenoni & Colombi was launched on Amazon.it. “It was a success. Since we were not such a well-known brand, Amazon worked as an intermediary between us and potential new customers. The customer’s trust in Amazon, translated into confidence and trust in us as well.”

Then the stellar reviews started coming in, the positive comments shared helped the company recalibrate their own production to meet the needs of their growing clientele: “For us the customer is always right, an attitude that we also found in Amazon. Their relationship with us as sellers has been organic and direct: they listen to us, give us advice, and help guide us. We like to keep things informal, we’re on a first name basis with our customers.”

Shortly after, Zenoni & Colombi made their debut on the Made in Italy showcase: “It was the natural platform for us, as we do everything on a short supply chain. This step was crucial for helping us reach an international market, because Made in Italy is a stamp of approval, recognized worldwide. Thanks to the additional photos and messages available, we were able to share more about who we are. Nowadays, we also have customers in Germany and France.”

In 2020, during the midst of the COVID crisis, the ‘Made in Italy’ showcase gave us a helping hand. “Nembro has been one of the regions worst hit by the pandemic,” said Lorenzo. “We suffered so many losses: friends, relatives, and colleagues.

Amazon and its logistics services helped protect us and our customers. Being part of this showcase gave us the increased visibility which in turn, helped us overcome the crisis. But the best part has been the number of customers who have called us for news which for us was a huge display of affection,” says Lorenzo. Like a cashmere blanket for the soul.

Supporting Small Businesses
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Learn more in our 2020 Small and Medium Businesses (SMB) Impact Report.