The Cooperativa Nido di Seta was founded in 2014 in San Floro, a town in the province of Catanzaro, which at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries was considered Europe’s silk capital. The entire area was in fact the most important silk production centre in Europe, around which a production circuit was formed that traced a “Calabrian silk route”.
The aim of the young entrepreneurs (Miriam, Giovanna and Domenico) was to exploit the enormous potential of their land by reviving the ancient silkworm industry through a redevelopment project that made it possible to regenerate the 3,000 mulberry trees (which are the silkworm’s staple food) that had been completely abandoned in the municipality of San Floro.
These young people from Calabria, started by being taught the secrets of mulberry cultivation by the last heirs of this tradition, the village elders. They then followed a training course at the Institute of Sericulture in Thailand, learning unconventional methods of silk processing, and finally travelled to Mexico to discover new natural dyes.
“Metamorphosis is the last stage of the silkworm’s growth process, a slow but predictable path. From the hatching of the eggs, which are about two millimetres wide, the silkworm feeds continuously for twenty-eight days, the duration of its life cycle. During the cycle it grows exponentially, growing so fast that its skin cannot grow with it, and so it stops four times to moult, once every five days. On the 28th day the worm stops eating and releases all its waste. Then begins the creation of the silk cocoon, which lasts three days, and then there is the process of metamorphosis. The four main stages of sericulture are bubbling, silkworming, reeling and twisting. Through maceration, the sericin, the rubbery substance that glues the cocoon together, softens. Then, with stripping, the cocoon is rubbed with a brush to free the end of the thread and finally, during the actual wrapping, the continuous thread is unravelled from the cocoon. In the last part of the third stage of transformation into yarn, the cocoons are immersed in hot water to unravel the filament. In order to produce a silk weaving yarn, the threads of at least six or seven cocoons must be joined together, which, thanks to the sericin, remain cohesive during reeling”.
An artisan network has formed around Nido di Seta, which extends throughout Calabria and is characterised by particular attention to female entrepreneurship (about eight artisan women from all over the region work together) another important aspect that identifies the history of the cooperative, which produces yarns, fabrics and finished products: fabrics, scarves, foulards, ties, accessories, wedding dresses, jewellery and footwear (all rigorously in silk) are the most valuable products that the company produces.
Textile production is not, however, the only activity promoted by the Nido di Seta, which has been biological certified since 2015 and is also dedicated to the organic cultivation of mulberries (partly because the silkworm is very sensitive to pesticides), thanks to which a wide range of products stand out, such as extra mulberry jams, as well as herbal teas and liqueurs.
It is no coincidence that the Cooperative’s missions include: protection of the environment and landscape, growth of the territory and sustainable development.
This is a genuine model of sustainable and alternative development that integrates natural resources, craftsmanship and cultural tourism, triggering a virtuous circle that daily transforms San Floro into a pole of attraction for national and international tourism.
The idea of creating a network of experiential tourism packages linked to the tradition of silk is implemented by continuous stimulating activities, such as the Silk Academy, a series of weekend-long workshops, divided by theme, which aim to educate new people (very often from various countries around the world) on the various stages of processing, such as silkworm breeding, both in the different stages of spinning and weaving craft, and then natural dyeing.
Nido di seta is currently one of the very few companies in the world to produce an entirely sustainable silk yarn dyed exclusively with natural dyes.
An entrepreneurial reality that puts ethics in all its facets first.
And it is no coincidence that the cooperative was recently chosen as a partner for the creation of some of the clothes staged during the Fashion Award at the Taormina 2021 Film Festival (held this year under the banner of eco-sustainability).
This is a very positive story of local (but at the same time international) entrepreneurship which can inspire the increasing number of young people in Calabria who want to revitalise their homeland by exploiting the skills they have acquired around the world.
Written by Francesco Tirinato (JUMP Team)
20 September 2021
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