People often talk about life-changing meals. A transcendent noodle dish that sparks a new way of thinking. A particularly amazing Michelin-starred feast that exemplifies food as art. A roadside taco that teaches simplicity and history, all in a few quick bites. For sisters Sophie Weill and Kiki Weill, it was a cooking class on Italy’s Amalfi Coast that shifted everything.
It’s the reason they founded their dishware company, Piano Piano: a vibrant, whimsical, and tasteful line of plates, bowls, cups, and more that embodies the essence of the Italian lifestyle: take it slow, and do it well. Below, the sisters and cofounders share more about that fateful meal, what they’ve learned so far as entrepreneurs, and what success means to them.
Can you talk about the cooking class in Italy that sparked the idea for Piano Piano?
How long do you have? This was truly one of the most magical experiences of our lives. We took a cooking class in Ravello called Mamma Agata that we highly highly recommend to anyone traveling in the area. The cooking class is a multi-generational, family-owned-and-operated business where the grandmother, mother, kids, and other family members all work together to teach students how to make authentic coastal dishes. It was a five-plus-hour experience hosted in their home overseeing the ocean. Throughout the day, we kept hearing Chiara, the main chef, say, “Piano, piano” as it pertained to cooking slowly and steadily. Although she was using the saying in relation to cooking, we felt that this philosophy applies to every aspect of the Italian way of life. After doing more research, we learned that the saying “Piano, piano” means “slow and steady is the way” and is not only reserved for cooking, but is widely used in all contexts. The morning after the cooking class, the idea for our business struck—and we knew there was no better name for it than Piano Piano.
How does beautiful dinnerware inspire people to live more presently?
There are a ton of beautiful tableware companies out there, but when creating Piano Piano, we wanted to make sure that our products were colorful and full of life. That is why every piece in our collection is a vibrant color intended to catch your attention and serve as a reminder to come alive, slow down, and be present with what’s in front of us. We chose tableware because these are items that we interact with daily. We also felt that mealtime is a perfect opportunity that is given to us every day where we can choose to be present, whether that be by yourself or gathered with loved ones.
What have been the biggest learnings for you so far on this entrepreneurship journey?
Ironically enough, the first lesson we learned is that good things take time and that the “slow and steady way of life” applies to starting a business, as well. We’ve also learned (and are still learning) that consistency is key to growth. Ultimately, our biggest lesson has been to trust our gut and make sure all decisions are in alignment with our why.
What is your working relationship like as sisters and cofounders?
Honestly, it’s been a blast. We are truly best friends and are so motivated by each other. Starting a business together has taught us even more about each other, which we didn’t think was possible. The biggest blessing is that our core values are the same, yet our skill sets are complimentary.
Can you talk more about your Italian manufacturers and the handcrafted process?
We were so lucky to find our first partner in a small town in the Amalfi Coast called Vietri sul Mare that was able to make our dream tableware come to life. It was such an amazing experience to see the process firsthand and to witness the amazing talent of the artisans. Every step of the process is so intentional and requires so much presence, patience, and technique.
How do you define success for yourselves?
We would both define success as having the freedom to design our lives the way we truly want so that we can focus on the areas that we’re most excited and passionate about. Success for us also means making an impact and seeing our mission resonate with others. When we see customers choosing to invite their family over for dinner or choosing to be a little more present with their cup of coffee, that actually feels like success to us.
Other than Piano Piano, what helps you feel like your homes are truly yours?
What makes our homes feel homey is that every single piece—down to the can opener—was chosen with intention in order to create a space that truly feels like us. We love to create clean, cozy, and inviting environments, which is why we choose pieces that reflect this. We also love to always have fresh flowers, scents going, and music playing.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.