A woman who feels and is capable of stirring emotions in others. Because her life is in itself all about emotions. She lives it to the fullest without shying away and with one goal only - fulfil her childhood dream that identified her universe and truest self with the world of fashion. That dream was meant to come true and it did.
This is the story of Elisabetta Franchi, the soul of the eponymous brand, who succeeded in winning over women’s trust with her style and creativity. Though, among the ingredients of her success are also a great passion for what she does, a meticulous research into the products she designs and the utmost commitment for her work combined with just the right amount of pragmatism. Her journey started in Bologna where Franchi was born in 1968. The fourth of five children, she comes from humble beginnings, the whole household run by a strong single mother who had to overcome financial hardship and adversity to raise them on her own. Years later Franchi recalled how the absence of a father, the struggles as well as her passion and the determination to turn her fate around led her to pursue her dream doggedly without giving in to difficulties. Her childhood’s only toy and companion was a doll – symbolized nowadays by the Betty Doll – which made her dream of one day dressing all the women in the world.
Making great sacrifices, she studied at the Istituto Aldrovandi Rubbiani in Bologna. Her first encounter with fashion occurred in those days when to get by, she would take up the odd job like that of sales girl, which taught her to pay attention to what customers want and listen to their needs. That proved to be a critical lesson when laying the foundation for her successful fashion business.
In 1995, the designer set up a small design studio, where she began to conceptualize her style and create the first pieces following her instinct and with the support of a small team of 5 (currently the company has about 300 employees)
Three years later, in 1998, she funded Betty Blue S.p.a., which produced CELYN b, a line whose name evoked Parisian elegance with the letter “b” standing for “Betta”, the shortening of the designer’s name.
In 2006, she purchased a disused pharmaceutical factory that in 2008, following two years of planning and restructuring, became the headquarters of the fashion house, covering an area of over 6,000 square meters of modern and functional beauty surrounded by the Bolognese countryside. In line with
the principles of eco-sustainable architecture, the restoration works brought back the building to its former glory, thus feeding into Elisabetta Franchi’s love for architecture and design, a passion she always cultivated alongside fashion. In 2012, the designer made the decision to design under her own name setting up the eponymous ELISABETTA FRANCHI brand. In 2013, Milan was chosen as the location for the brand’s first showroom, housed inside a 950 square meters, 6-storey building in Via Tortona 9.
All such activities, alongside the many animal-related initiatives, have been incorporated in the Fondazione Elisabetta Franchi Onlus, the non-profit organization set up by the designer in 2019 with the aim of continuing and championing them. Among its other missions is the expansion of its activities in Asia to end the Dog Meat Trade, and in Southern Italy to help struggling shelters. The Foundation will also support the many dog shelters with their basic needs and all the volunteers who every day rescue thousands of dogs from certain death on the street.
In 2013, Betty Blue S.p.a. agreed to sell a minority stake to private equity firm Trilantic Capital Partners with the aim of taking the internationalisation process of the brand to the next level. Four years later, in 2017, Elisabetta Franchi bought back the stake regaining 100% control of the share capital.
In December 2019, Elisabetta Franchi was awarded the title of Cavaliere dell’Ordine “Al Merito della Repubblica Italiana” [Knight of the Italian Republic] by President Sergio Mattarella.
Keeping in touch through her IG profile – which counts 2.6 M followers - Elisabetta Franchi broke the rules of brand communication, going straight to the heart of people and creating a ‘gang’ of fans who love the woman and the designer for her lifestyle, her creations, her battles for the rights and the welfare of animals and the message she always sought to send to those who, like her, started from the bottom: “If you want it, you can do it. Don’t give up”. Entrepreneur, mother, wife and animal rights activists: to her, these are not mere stereotyped roles but values that she champions on a practical level and pursues proudly.