Salina Ferretti is the general manager of Falc S.p.A., an Italian footwear manufacturer that owns the Naturino, Falcotto, and Voile Blanche brands. Founded in 1974, the company’s products are now sold in thousands of outlets all over the world. Ferretti herself is the mother of two teenaged boys and lived in Beijing for two years in the past. We caught up with her when she came to town for the 20th annual China International Clothing and Accessories Fair (CHIC).
How did you become interested in shoes?
A turning point in my career came with the start of motherhood and the interest in my child’s health and well-being. Whenever I was dressing my kids, I tried to choose matching shoes for every outfit they had, and at the same time tried to [ensure that they were]age-appropriate, comfortable and made from healthy materials.
How has Naturino grown since you joined the company in the 1990s?
Everything started in the Civitanova Marche region of Italy. Today, millions of parents and kids know and enjoy the benefits of Naturino. We are present in important markets like China, the US, Canada, Germany, India, and Brazil with approximately 5,000 sales points and 60 exclusive stores.
Secondly, our shoe production is growing every year; our actual annual production is now around 2 million pairs of shoes.
Lastly, Naturino’s manufacturing process has also developed throughout the years. We use the latest innovations in the footwear industry and respond to suggestions from our partners and clients. To meet the needs of parents and kids is the best way to grow for us.
What makes Naturino different from other brands?
Our shoes have what we call the three “pluses”:
- Materials are 100 percent healthy and safe for use in children’s footwear. Our company has its own tannery, which produces and processes the leather we put in our shoes. Furthermore, each material used in the manufacturing of our shoes is allergy-tested.
- Each and every Naturino design is made in line with Italian fashion’s latest trends. We not only want to sell shoes, but also to let the rest of the world experience a touch of Italian style and culture.
- Thanks to the support of pediatricians and orthopedic doctors, our team has designed a unique feature called the “sand effect,” which ensures good posture, comfort, and hygiene for little ones.
Tell us about Naturino’s “sand effect.”
According to pediatricians, the best support for children’s feet is sea sand, which molds to the shape of the foot without restricting movement. Naturino’s “sand effect” system recreates the sensation of walking on sea sand; the foot rests on a soft layer that shapes under the weight of the body the help the foot arch develop naturally. This flexibility allows little feet to move freely without pinching or squeezing.
What’s the question you hear the most when it comes to children’s podiatric health?
Moms-to-be and new moms frequently ask what age they should start letting their babies wear shoes and what characteristics these shoes should have. Some moms worry about how often they should change their kids’ shoes; others ask what the right fit for their children is. When it comes to kids’ health, we mothers never stop wondering if we are making the right choices.
What’s the biggest challenge for Naturino in the Chinese market?
I started coming to China for business about 12 years ago. Back then, the kids’ footwear market was still starting out and not many high-end brands existed. Now, the Chinese market is practically overloaded with national and foreign brands and some of them produce really good quality shoes. The biggest challenge we face nowadays is to make people understand why Naturino should be their first choice when it comes to children’s shoes.
As the mother of two teenaged children, how do you balance work and family life?
It is never easy for a working mom to find a balance for her family and her career. To be honest, my work absorbs a lot of my time. I need to travel abroad frequently, but I am still with my children on the phone. Before leaving, I make sure that everything at home is taken care of so that they don’t encounter any difficulties. All my free time is dedicated to them; I try to spend it with them as a friend, to have them share with me their thoughts, worries, stories, etc. I am also lucky to be surrounded by a great family team that supports me every step of the way.
Which Naturino shoe would you recommend to first-time buyers?
For little girls, I would recommend colorful and elegant lace up sandals like this one:
It zips on the back for a slip-on fit and features colorful flowers on the instep. It is very light and flexible, and the natural materials ensure full freedom of movement and foot hygiene.
For boys I would recommend this semi-open sports shoe:
These are designed especially for those active little boys who love to run and play. They provide comfort, stability and the right ventilation even for hot summer days.
What can we expect from Naturino in the future?
Our biggest promise to our customers and followers is to keep providing a first-line product to them – a product that is 100 percent safe and healthy for their little kids.
Naturino shoes are currently available at eight locations in Beijing:
- Sci-Tech Plaza
- Golden Resource New Yansha Mall
- Lufthansa Youyi Shopping City
- Yansha Outlets Shopping Center
- Shin Kong Place
- Modern Plaza
- Cuiwei Department Store
- Shuangan Shopping Plaza
All photos courtesy of Naturino