From Banker To Confectioner: How Sugar-Coated Italian Sweets And Chocolates Changed My Life

Translated from Italian -original text by Alessandro Luongo on Corriere della Sera.

Lavinia Davolio, 35, born in Carpi (Modena), after working in several Investment banks and losing her job, decides to enter the confectionery sector. In 2013 she launches the Lavolio Boutique Confectionery brand in London: made in Italy specialties, with great care in the choice of ingredients, using slow food products and artisanal production methods. And it is immediately a success.

During her studies to attain a scientific diploma at Liceo Corso di Correggio (Reggio Emilia), at 15 years old she leaves to  attend her senior year at Craigmont High School in Memphis (Tennessee), in the United States, where she learns English and receives a very formative experience from both a personal and cultural point of view.  

She then enrolls to attain her BA in International Economics and Management at Bocconi University, “a course in English (called Diem), where half the students were Italian and the other half, foreign; interesting as a general introduction, but not particularly specialised either in finance or business.” She graduates with honours, “working part-time and after doing an internship and an exchange program: wonderful experience but very tiring.”

Between her third and last year of studying she indeed starts working as an intern at an investment bank in London, she spends six months on an exchange program at the Fudan University of Shanghai in China and she is hired indefinitely (immediately after graduating in the summer of 2005) by Barclays Capital.  

She works on the trading floor until the end of 2013 between a British and a Swiss bank where, as director, she loses her job because of one of the many cuts which affected banks during the economic crisis. “After the experience in the US I had a great interest towards international business, and I would have liked to already begin an entrepreneurial project upon finishing my studies (from here also stemmed the idea and the completion of my exchange program in China).”

At this point -despite a nine-year-long work experience in the field of finance- Lavinia makes a total change, taken by her old passion for food. “I learned to cook from my grandmothers -she remembers- things like homemade pasta and tortelli. The specialties however are sweets: dessert and cakes, and everything that is baked in an oven.”

The young woman from Emilia Romagna thus trains as a chef, “but then, market research led me to aim towards creating a product which is high quality and innovative and, especially, in B2B sales. I decided to focus on a scalable, niche sector which has space for growth: the confectionery sector.”

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In 2013, with the help of an Italian pastry chef, she dedicates to seeking quality ingredients and artisanal producers in Italy. At the end of the year she launches in the City a line of confectionery of over thirty flavours, spread across five different collections which find their strength on selected ingredients such as pistachios from Bronte, PDO (Protected Denomination of Origin) certified hazelnuts from Piedmont and almonds from Puglia.

“They are small surprises enclosed within elegant tins -perfect as gifts or as an after-dinner treat.” In less than two years Lavinia has been able to start supplying prestigious establishments such as Fortnum & Mason and the Ascot Racecourse. Today, Lavolio is a brand distributed in more than 200 stores in the United Kingdom, plus locations in Kuwait, Hong Kong and other countries. She’s an entrepreneur in her “first steps”.

And this is in fact how she feels: “I am still learning so much, but I know that our customers appreciate the quality of the ingredients, the perfect balance of our flavours and the uniqueness of each morsel.”

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