Recessionistas: Gisella and Wendy Civale
You’ve seen their product at Whole Foods and likely (thoroughly) enjoyed it with a piece of fresh Italian bread. But, if the product’s name got lost amidst your taste bud explosion, Dolce Nonna isn’t only about delish, all-natural, homemade products from gourmet marinated eggplant to spiced peaches, it’s about family. The inspiration for the company came from Gisella Civalae’s grandma (“Nonna”) Maria. And, today, Maria’s great-great grandaughter, Wendy, is helping her mom and generations before experience her lineage’s culinary magic.
But is it olive oil wishes and vinegar dreams behind-the-scenes of this heirloom canning duo?
Two Italian ladies: fierce. Just saying it almost sounds like a reality show. Is it?
Wendy Working with your mother can be very rewarding yet difficult at times. Yes, it sounds all “warm and fuzzy” but in reality there is a fine line of overstepping one’s boundaries and that line is carefully crossed. Unlike other business relationships, a mother/daughter relationship often involves emotions and a deep bond, so that is where the gray area lies. It’s easier to yell and voice your frustrations to a coworker but when it comes to yelling at your mom that just isn’t right!
Way to raise a good girl, Gisella! What’s the experience really like for you?
Gisella: It’s definitely an interesting experience! As a mother, it’s extremely rewarding to see your child succeed in life and there are many positive aspects to it. It can also be difficult having to take orders and follow directions from your child. But if you are both working towards the same goal then you swallow your pride and do what you have to do.
But you can’t swallow your pride ALL the time, right? What’s the biggest fight you’ve gotten into?
Wendy: I don’t necessarily recall one “BIG” fight. We tend to get into small, petty arguments on a weekly basis which are always resolved in a matter of minutes. Our personalities are polar opposites: she is very laid back and easygoing where I am the more serious, focused type. But somehow it works.
Gisella: Our biggest fights tend to happen at the end of a long day when we are both tired. My daughter is extremely neat and organized and I am not. So we tend to fight over menial things like keeping the inventory or displays neat and polished at all times. My daughter always wants things to be perfect and life is not perfect.
Amen to that. So, what advice would you give another mother-daughter duo looking to go into biz together?
Can I call you “mom”? You are one tough lady! I like it!
Gisella: No, I’m kidding. I would tell them that you will need a huge amount of patience and not to take anything personally. Try to maintain your sense of direction and keep the end goal in sight. Before you entertain the idea, you need to realize that you can’t let your emotions play into things. You must stay objective and focused.
Wendy, I can only imagine that that’s easier said than done, especially when you can’t get any more personal than a mother-daughter relationship…
Wendy: I’d tell them to evaluate their relationship beforehand. If their relationship is a close one that can get through emotional highs and lows without being damaged then go for it. But if they already have a rocky, unstable relationship then going into a work environment together is going to be a rough ride and could potentially damage the relationship. I would tell them that it’s going to be a very long and trying road ahead of them but definitely worth taking a shot at!