At exactly 8 minutes walk from my house, there is a small shop called Rimani. It's the first sustainable plastic-free bulk shop in Venice and it was opened by two young women, Lisa and Orsetta, in 2020. It's where I buy most of my breakfast cereals, cosmetics and soaps and where I have learned quite a few things on how to improve my household management and life with more sustainable behaviours.
As a local resident, I feel grateful for this type of shop. First of all, because it is addressed to 'normal people' and secondly because with their small actions, I think they have contributed to making certain choices in the lagoon easier. In this post, our brief interview.
1) So, Lisa and Orsetta, tell us a little something about yourselves: how did you meet and when did you decide to start this project together?
We have known each other all our lives, or at least since we have memories. We went to kindergarten, elementary and middle high school together, then our academic paths took separate ways (science school and law for Lisa, art school and design for Orsetta), but we have always remained friends and never stopped chatting and dreaming together.
Both of us have always dreamed about having an activity of our own where we could propose our products, so one day while we were on the phone during the Covid period, we thought ...'well, why not do it?', and that was it. Although we have very different personalities, we are both rather practical and quick at taking decisions. So... in a few months we designed the project Rimani.
2) Why a bulk shop and why the name Rimani ?
We are both small producers (Lisa, with her partner Federico, has a farm in the Veneto countryside and Orsetta is a designer) and our products cannot be available throughout the year. When the honey, jams and juices produced at Loggia degli Avi are sold out, it is necessary to wait for the season to give its new fruits, and Orsetta too is involved in various projects during the year, from her design productions to her teaching activity. For this reason, we decided to keep other sustainable products to offer our clients throughout the whole year, like a selection of organic foods (like legumes, flours, cereals, dried fruit, etc.) and zero-waste soaps for the body and the house.
As for the name, it came out by chance one afternoon on Skype while we were listing the possible names and suddenly Lisa said 'and why not RI-MANI?!' (from RIciclo, recycling, MANI, hands, RIMANI stay ... in Venice, don't leave).
Five minutes later... Orsetta was already designing the logo!
3) How did the neighbourhood react when you opened?
We couldn't be happier of how the neighbourhood welcomed us. The shop is addressed mainly to locals, we are located in one of the most inhabited residential areas in Venice, and this allows us to be like an old style bottega. We chat and listen to our clients, we open our doors to the local children who pop by to say hello after school, and we try to give some small tips to avoid useless waste and live more sustainably.
4) Lisa, you manage a farm. May I ask you which are the main effects of climate change you are noticing? And which products from your farm do you sell at Rimani? (btw...I'm a huge fan of your honey!!!)
Together with Federico, my partner, a couple of years ago we decided to undertake the challenge of following a farm, although our studies and job perspectives were in very different fields. We like to think that taking care of the environment is a sign of change, that being able to grow crops with no chemicals, like in the past, is a huge fortune. Since we've moved to Montello (a hill in the province of Treviso), we have been taking care of an extremely old vineyard, and also of some fruit trees that, although abandoned, had never stopped producing fruits. Nature teaches us many things and we must listen and be ready to respect her, we are only guests on this planet. Unfortunately I must say that in the last 6 years the effects of climate change have become visible and tangible: fruits ripen faster due to the increase of temperatures, and some plants have difficulties in growing due to the lack of water and have become more sensitive to attacks and diseases.... and if a plant's cycle is altered by negative external agents, it can become 'adult' without having developed the necessary antibodies.
Anyhow, Federico and I put together our passion for nature with the one for solidarity and we collaborate with Cooperativa Montelletto for the transformation of our products. The cooperative hires staff with drug, mental and psychiatric difficulties to help them position themselves in the job marketplace. Over these years we have seen that it is a positive reality and that many of the associates are able to find a job outside the cooperative.
We firmly believe that all products must be sustainable from start to finish: grown ethically, treated with knowledge and paid properly. This is how our 'trasformati' are born: fruit nectars, jams, syrups, dried officinal herbs, all available at Rimani. Soon, there will also be THE PRODUCT for excellence: our PROSECCO COL FONDO (natural/cloudy prosecco), a challenge that required some years for the reconversion of the soil and a lot of dedication, experimentation and will. A good balance between innovation and tradition, a work that we have been carrying out behind the scenes for years and that today is giving us great satisfaction.
5) Orsetta, in addition to co-managing the shop you also work as a designer and teacher. Tell us about your HumiLab project and which products can we find at the shop?
I have the luck to work at the UNIRSM university in San Marino, where I graduated some years ago and currently teach design and silk-screen printing. This dual (or triple?) life gives me a lot of energy and allows me to recharge and keep up with what happens in the world. In our shop, you can find pieces from a project I am really fond of, especially because the realisation process is really fun. It is called 'Brucio d'Amore' and it is composed of a series of cypress fruit bowls obtained from the seasoned woods of the trees that had been eradicated by the Vaia storm in the adventure park Woodpark in Itri (LT), located on the slopes of the Aurunci Mountains. The collection is made of unique pieces obtained through the slow combustion of the wood that naturally determines the inner concavity of the vases. The control of the shape of the cavity is obtained applying wet soil on the parts where we do not want the embers to act. The external shape, instead, is defined and sanded by hand, following the veining and irregularities of the log. Finally, each piece is polished, so that the burnt part is stabilised and doesn't dirt or leave traces when we touch it.
In the shop you can also find some of my colourful table and suspended lamps, wine bottles made with recycled glass and the silk-screen prints featuring Venetian dishes, plus shoppers and t-shirts with the abacus of cicchetti, tramezzini and spritz.
6) Your passion for hand-made and sustainable products have led you to collaborate with other local designers: who and what can we find at Rimani?
Yes, we like being able to give space to other fellow designers. We have always thought of our bottega as a community space and we are delighted to collaborate with like-minded people.
We host at different times different products, from the colourful pottery by Andrea Reggiani, to the more classical pottery by Laura Aletti; crochet objects for the home and to wear by Mara Dore (Madai uncinetto), the crochet jewellery made by Lebubimi and the items in recycled fabric by Qec-gioielli .
You can also find sustainable natural cosmetics from known brands like La Saponaria, Senso Naturale and Officina Natura as well as cosmetics produced by smaller realities like 360trecentosessantagradi. The latter is a project by Stefano, a hair-dresser originally from Marche who moved to Vicenza many years ago and has transformed his passion into a profession. He takes care of wellbeing at 360 degrees and produces a line of cosmetics. In our shop we have his solid honey shampoo and the body scrub dedicated to Venice with marshland (barena) honey and flowers. We'd also like to mention the legumes (coming soon) produced by Colle Surya a small farm located between the hills of Gubbio where Silvia e Alberto work following the three guidelines of permaculture: care of the soil, care of the people and care of the future' (quote).
We also collaborate with realities that fund educational projects and work for the improvement of the integration of minorities.
7) Can you share 10 easy tips to live more sustainability that anyone can follow?
1- Shop with your own reusable bag (have it always with you, it doesn't occupy space!)
2- Buy bulk soaps and recycle the container bottles
3- Drink tap water and/or from fountains and opt for a reusable water bottle
4- Avoid buying fruit and veg with a plastic packaging
5- Opt for solid or anyway sustainable soaps
6- Ask friends/neighbours if sth could be useful to them before throwing it away
7- Become aware and make sustainability a lifestyle, give yourself time and forgive your own mistakes! Change is a journey, it does not need to be radical and extreme
8- Don't feel discouraged if our small actions seem only like a drop in the ocean (we must start somewhere!)
9- Create awareness and share useful practices
10- Recreate and practice the concept of 'community', we too are part of the environment
8) Your clients are mainly locals, but if visitors/tourists wanted to support, what can they purchase?
We are happy to see that some tourist buy things that are handy during their stay, like soaps, shampoos and sun creams, as well as breakfast products and presents to take home. Supporting our small business means supporting a reality that tries to keep engaged with the local community and is attentive to the environment, opting for recycled and non-polluting materials and products.
In addition to our food and home products, there are various design objects like candles, t-shirts, shoppers, ceramics and more. Each with a story to tell :)
9) How can a Venice visitor have a positive impact on the city? Some dos and don'ts for a sustainable Venetian holiday.
Venice, like all other cities really, should be visited with the guidance of the so-called common sense and with respect, we can only share some small simple ideas:
- Do not buy from the 1-euro souvenir shops (clearly, those products are not respectful of the environment and of human labor)
- drink from public fountains (you can find many online resources listing the various fountains, like www.venicetapwater.com)
- Visit museums, artisan shops and the realities that make our city so unique
- Respect the people, places and environment of the city you visit
- Throw the garbage in the waste-bins
- Don't occupy space or picnic on bridges, monuments, wells or on the street. There are dedicated areas for such activities.
- Don't throw anything on the pavement or in the canal
As previously mentioned, I am very happy that this sort of activity exist in my town and hope that many others with a similar purpose will spread, with in common the will to reduce waste and pollution in a city that -like many others- needs greater attention and care. I hope you enjoyed the post and will be able to meet Lisa and Orsetta at your next visit.
RIMANI - map
Address: Barbaria de le Tole 6443, 30122