Interview with Maurizio Bussolari
VP Sales & Marketing @ BELLINO

BELLINO has provided exquisite luxury linens for the bed, bath, and table for 25 years and is one of the most distinguished brands in the industry. Their extensive product range suits the needs of the most sophisticated buyer: from 300 to 600 thread count sateen and percale to elegant jacquards, yarn dyes, matelasse', Irish linen, prints and basics in a delightful palette of colors. They only use 100% long staple cotton and are a vertical manufacturer that weaves, finishes and sews under one roof so we can provide the most competitive product, a strict quality control, flexibility and several options of personalizations Their distribution is very diversified: they supply some of the most exclusive U.S. independent hotels and hospitality groups, manufacture products for high profile retailers, private label for exclusive brands and have a strong online presence. Their dynamic team and flexible organization allow them to remain competitive against all price points. They have offices and warehouses in Italy and the U.S. and showrooms in New York City and Atlanta.
Hi Maurizio! Could you please introduce Bellino and what led to your working with the company back in 2013? What did your typical workweek look like when you first joined the company?
Bellino has been supplying luxury home textiles to the American market for twenty-five years. Our main product lines are bedding, bed linens, towels, and bathrobes, throws and blankets and, table linens. Our headquarters are in Englewood, New Jersey and we have showrooms in New York City and Atlanta. Our main divisions are hospitality, we service luxury boutique hotels and restaurants. Private label, we manufacture for different brands, wholesale to retail stores and, retail direct to consumers through our website. I joined the company in 2013 after closing our three-generation family business in Italy and decided to move to the US to develop my new professional path. The main reason that led me to join the company was that it is run by a very close friend of mine, who I have always admired and trusted, and the great potential I saw in the business. Initially, when I started my work week was very diverse as I had to learn everything about the new company, the new products, the new industry. Most importantly, I had to build my network. I spent a lot of time at the corporate office, at the New York City showroom and, around town and, on the road to meet my new clients, understand their needs, the business opportunities and to familiarise myself with the competition.
Who are some of the biggest partners and clients of Bellino? What are some of the main benefits of partnering with hotels and the hospitality industry?
We partner with high-end bedding brands and manufacturer and retail programs for quite a few large hotel chains. But, I like to mention our hospitality partners. We supply some of the most exclusive hotels in New York, like The Greenwich, The Mark, The Park Hyatt, The Mandarin Oriental, The Bowery. I'm very proud of our relationship with Cedar Group, which is the most innovative boutique hotel company in the U.S. This year, they launched three brands, Nomad, Freehand and The Line and, opened properties in different cities like New York, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Austin, Texas, Las Vegas. We have been working with them since the beginning of this big expansion. We've been working very closely together and growing a lot. There are two main benefits of doing business with hotel and hospitality partners. Our products gets used and washed every day so, they need to be replaced and reordered every few months. If you service the customers well, they will keep buying for a long time and, stay faithful, which can be a rare thing these days. Benefit number two is brand promotion. Our products are labeled with our brand name. Every day hundreds or thousands of guests get to see them, experience our products and, if they like them, they can look for us and, they can become our client and repeat the hotel experience at home.
How did your time working for your family business, Bussolari, influence your career today? After working for the company for 24 years, what led to your founding BUSSO?
The 24 years I spent working in my family business had a huge influence on my career. First of all, during that time, I grew as a person. I turned from a very shy young guy to an outgoing, energetic, curious individual/salesperson. I developed my personality, I travelled the entire world and, I developed a relationship in many different countries that still lasts today. Then, I learned everything I know which I'm using now professionally. Including acquiring and keeping servicing clients, creating and manufacturing products, developing brands and, building sales teams. These days, being a sales executive requires a great deal of energy, persistence, passion and tough skin. I always say, some of these traits you may already have but, some you acquire over time and with experience. Busso the small furniture design brand that I created in 2009 to diversify our family business. At that time, our main product was high-end picture frames. But, the market was drastically shrinking. The product was becoming obsolete. Asian competition was coming very aggressively. The new technologies, new devices were changing the consumer habits so, we were in big need of finding a new market and, that brand allowed us to acquire new clients like, design, furniture and lifestyle stores.
What are the main trends and innovations affecting the world of linen and home decor? How would you describe your own personal branding aesthetic?
The strongest trends that I've recently seen in the linen and home textile industry are essentially two. These are a casual relaxed and look like a 100% linen instead of cotton, they have wrinkled sheets and finishes typical of the garment industry, like, the stone wash. This trend includes consumers who are trendsetters, connoisseurs, designers, experts and a young generation of consumers who do not like to iron the sheets. The second trend is the organic one. This has come about mostly because of the issues of our environment and the demand for a greener, cleaner and, a healthier product. Unfortunately, this presents a challenge, because the organic product is supposed to be treated without any chemicals. But, when the product gets to the market and it's used by the consumers, it is washed and with, of course, detergents have chemicals in. It's very challenging to keep the product 100% organic for all of its lifecycle. My aesthetic is quite hard to define and because it varies a lot. I love a mix of styles, like classic, vintage and contemporary. It changes according to the season, according to the location and, most importantly, it changes according to my mood.
What's next for your work with Bellino? What are the main projects, partnerships and markets you'll be focusing on in 2019?
There are three projects Bellino is working on in this new year. Expanding our hotel clients with both, individual properties and, brands in the United States but, also the Caribbean and Mexico which, are very hot markets right now. Expanding our presence in the cruise line industry which, we've just entered with our first two clients and, is showing great growth and potential. And, improve, develop and expand more business direct to consumer through our e-commerce. These three projects are linked together because being present in more hotels and ships will create a bigger exposure for the brand and drive more traffic to our website. Having a more prestigious website and brand will attract more hospitality clients that are always looking for new and good products to present to their guests. These projects are challenging. They represent a big change from what the company was doing just a few years ago. They require hard work but, they excite me a lot and I feel they are within our reach.