Aurora Santoro, Tupperware Italy: “You can become a role model the way I have for a lot of people, including my family.”
After leaving school I did a lot of different jobs, such as stitching carpets for a small firm and working in both a café and a restaurant. In the late 1980s I got a factory job with Superga and shortly after starting the position I realized that I was burning out. One day I decided to invest 60 million liras (about $50,000) in a delicatessen stall at the market with my sister-in-law as my partner. Of course the work was hard, but I did not mind. Unfortunately we could not seem to get along working together, so we decided my sister-in-law would keep the business and buy me out. In 1995 I gave up the delicatessen stall and it was at that time my journey with Tupperware began. Another sister-in-law of mine invited me to a Tupperware party. I knew the products and I could have joined as early as 1988, but that first time the demonstrator failed to persuade me. But, this second time around was different. The unit manager was so enthusiastic that she just swept me along. Without realizing its incredible potential, I got into this business and I’ve never looked back since.
There is no comparison with my previous job or the market stall. At the first meeting I earned 38,000 liras. The demonstrations were like parties! We would pass around coffee, chat and some people would bring cakes. We enjoyed ourselves a couple of hours and in the end I got paid. Wow! Two weeks later I fixed six parties in six days: 1,260,000 liras. I still have the diary where I wrote down the sums I made. I was so excited that I even got everyone around me to be enthusiastic. Without realizing it, I had already created a group. Nerina, the Distributor at the time, immediately asked me to be unit manager. She advised me, helped me and listened to me. She was very influential. Even now that I have my own Distributorship and she’s retired, I can still hear her guidance. Most importantly, I wanted to succeed in this business and achieve milestones. “What do I have to do to get a car?” I would ask, and so on. At first, I would have to host a party whenever someone in the family could lend me their car. When I got my own car, everything changed. In most jobs, I am told no one tells you you’re really great at the work! At Tupperware, they do. People would always ask me, “What are you doing now?” because I kept changing jobs for such a long time. When I answered Tupperware, they’d look at me astonished! Even my husband at first failed to understand my work. I did not have a regular income and he never knew where I was going. I was always out at parties or meetings, even at night. It was very difficult at first to make him understand my work and to be supportive. But I believed in this work, and I did all I could to get him to come on vacation when I finally got the opportunity. When I finally managed it, we traveled to Rome together. He then began to realize what working for Tupperware meant to me. Now, he is one hundred percent involved. We have been everywhere – Dubai, Las Vegas, Florida and so many more amazing places.
In these difficult economic times, my advice to everyone is: try it! You can become a role model the way I have for a lot of people, including my family. I even helped train my niece. She was about to go to college, so I told her, “Claudia, have a try.” Now she’s a Distributor. Then my sister, who came to work in the warehouse for me, and my brother-in-law, who lost his job and I am now going to hire. Even my kids are helping me out! You don’t have to clock in on this job and I’ve helped a lot of people find work ever since I became a Distributor in 2001. It’s like being an employment agency; my husband, who was so skeptical, decided in 2004 to leave his job to help me run the distributorship. I was renting an office in 2001 and then decided to buy new premises at Rivoli and take out a mortgage. The new Distributorship is in a condo, taking up one whole floor covering 520 square meters and it has a warehouse, offices, coffee corner, a big showroom with a stage, the unit managers’ room, a dining kitchen communicating with the stage for training sessions, and wash rooms. My husband recently, when I was in Ibiza, gave me a surprise by repainting the walls magenta and gray in classic Tupperware style. Then there’s a room where my kids have created their own corner with a computer and TV set. At their age I’d never see them otherwise, but like this we always lunch together. And now I’m thinking of moving to new premises that would be even bigger and better. I know I can do it. I had to apply to a lot of banks before I got a mortgage, and eventually I succeeded. The market is people just like me, the people we galvanize into doing things. Sometimes I have to make an effort and remind myself that I can do it; it’s not always easy. But never let the problems get you down. This work has clearly revolutionized my life. I was able to create all of this and rise to the top with the help of my family and all of the women who work here. Anyone who is alone and joins this company will find that she is a member of a big family, in a very special world. And she will have a life that will be exciting and continuously changing.
Elisa Morandin, Tupperware Italy: “I only have one life story to tell. It’s not easy. But I can tell you one thing. Today I'm not afraid of anything.”
It was the first time I’d been to a Tupperware meeting, and I couldn’t help but think, “Why all the excitement?” There was cheering, prizes, laughter and I was not used to seeing these things. I began to work when I was thirteen and only my two brothers were able to finish school. I had to earn a wage to help my parents and the result of working at such an early age was that I had to grow up fast. I got my first job in Treviso, at a dressmaking workshop and the work was demanding. I was a seamstress, and I never thought of being anything else. I take work seriously because it is attached to deep values. That was why direct selling made a strange impression on me; when I left the meeting, I remember saying goodbye to Renata, who had invited me along. I said, “Thanks a lot, I really enjoyed it, but I don’t think it would suit me”. She insisted that we see each other again, and that it wouldn’t cost me anything. She also told me that we would have a lot of fun. Fun? That wasn’t a word I’d ever associated with work and it touched a chord deep inside of me. For years I had a regular job in dressmaking until I finally decided to quit in 1976 or 77. I found I could no longer stand the pace or combine the commitments of work with the needs of my family, especially my children.
I met my husband at eighteen and I was married at twenty-four. At twenty-six I had two kids. On May 1, 1978, my mother-in-law told me Renata, the wife of one of my husband’s workmates, had called to offer me an interesting job where I’d be in charge and could do things in my own time, I didn’t wait to think twice about it. At the party Renata spoke enthusiastically of containers that could work miracles. She invited me to join the group for a meeting the following Monday. That's how I found myself in the midst of all those ladies cheering, playing and talking about “training” (a word I’d only ever associated with military life until then). In short, they used a strange jargon; especially for those times. I’d never had any fun working. So, almost without realizing it, I agreed to host a party at my house with some friends.
I’d become a demonstrator. Actually, Renata did everything. She was the Distributor, before Laura took over from her. But I soon found I was at ease with other people. In fact, I got a thrill out of it! I actually liked being in the limelight and talking and I would have never have known that I could do it. True, there were times when I somehow had to nerve myself up to go through with it, but it was the only way to make the leap and achieve my goal. At first it was all about the sense of fulfillment rather than the money. I discovered I loved being with other people. My husband had actually warned me about this, knowing my character. He told me that this was a job that would bring me constantly into contact with others. Was I ready to take the plunge? And in those days direct selling was tougher and people were skeptical and suspicious of these products. I owe a lot to my Distributor. I’ve shared joys and sorrows with her, spent hours and hours at her office in the evening, in the days before computers. Maybe at the day’s end we found ourselves with some glitch, a problem to be solved, difficulties we’d never foreseen. Over the years we’ve grown a lot closer, especially since I told her about the serious illness that struck down my husband when he was just forty years old. She was very supportive, making me see this was really the only job I could do, because I could fit it in with my husband’s times and needs. I was always able to stay home mornings to be with him. An essential flexibility in what would be our life together from then on.
In fact I was able to handle this work all through the twenty-five years of my husband's illness, after he was given just three years to live when they diagnosed his disease. Instead he lived on and it’s just five years now since he passed away. Together we were able to bring up our children. Paride is forty-two and Rossella forty-three now, but when the illness appeared they were just children. They’ve always been close to me too. My son studied at university but lived at home, so I could keep working while he kept his father company. We never had anyone to help us and we always did everything for ourselves. I had to go out in the afternoons and their father would be left alone. This is one of the many reasons I’ve always considered him a wonderful man. He saw how I was able to change and develop through the years. With his support I managed to reach the top in Italy as a unit manager and I was able to be alongside Renata, who was top Distributor. That was when I finally believed in myself. I’ve always had my feet planted firmly on the ground. But now I felt light, like I am flying.
I often wonder how I managed to achieve these career aims with all of the problems I have faced throughout my life. Perhaps it is because I followed the example of my mother, strong even in adversity. My life’s journey is entwined with the business and so is my character. Tupperware is selflessness; what others have given you, you have to pass on to others. That’s my philosophy. I was never jealous of the smartest person on the team who had helped me have a good turnover. In fact, to make sure the business keeps growing I always pick out the person best qualified to be unit manager and place her above me. At the same time I still have a close bond with the unit managers that I train. As a unit you have rights, but also duties. Currently, I have four or five regular demonstrators that have been with me for years. There are also fifteen people who work with me in rotation. When I think of my thirty years with Tupperware, I realize that the work really was a lot of fun, just as they had told me in the beginning. This is because you’re responsible for whatever you achieve, and you have the freedom to run the business the way you want to. I had a very strict upbringing, and for the first time I felt free. There were no barriers!
I don’t want to retire. My son says, “You’re sixty-eight. How long can you keep going?” “It’s good for my mind,” I say. In the morning I have to get out of the house. I still want to enjoy these years of freedom. I want to be able to decide not to return home at once, or even stay out all day. Before, with my husband, it was out of the question. To me, his needs came before everything else. It’s only now that I'm finally rediscovering myself, finding time for myself, enjoying things I hardly remembered any more, including spending more time with my children. Everything was always so hectic before when I needed to look after their father. I was not able to receive an education growing up and now I only have one life story to tell. It’s not easy, but I can tell you one thing: today I'm not afraid of anything.
Morena Malossi, Tupperware Italy: “I can say I’ve begun to see the light, to feel easy and carefree, like when I used to skip and dance as a girl.”
My name is Morena. I was born with severe bilateral hearing loss, which caused me to have some very serious problems growing up. It is a paradox that my deafness has also made conversations that I have with people especially deep and rewarding, because whenever I talk to someone I am forced to gaze at their face; to read the movements of their lips and soul. I have a hearing aid that helps me hear voices and sounds (if they’re not drowned out by other noises), but talking to people who don’t know me can be very difficult and wearisome. When I was little, my parents and the doctors I visited did not immediately grasp what the problem was and why I did not talk. This was difficult for my parents and I reckon I must have inherited their determination. I am calm, firm and stubborn, which has helped me cope with the difficulties that are caused by serious hearing problems. My journey through childhood was different than the majority of other children. I lost those early months of learning to imitate sounds and voices. When I was two and a half years old I received my first hearing aid. I went to a special preschool and I was taught regularly by a speech therapist. I had a wonderful childhood filled with many friends, but that did not change the fact that it was very difficult to grow up with a hearing impairment.
Today, I have a husband and two children, a boy of ten and a girl of nine. When I started working with Tupperware, my husband was doubtful and my kids objected, “But you’ve already got a job!” Calmly, and firmly I gradually won them over by presenting products and doing demonstrations right in our home. When they saw me come back radiant from the weekly meetings (where perhaps I’d been given an award for my sales) they noticed and shared my happiness. My kids started asking me for Tupperware-style dishes and recipes, like the Tyrolean dumplings we sampled in Austria on vacation made in the bowl, or ice cream whipped up using Speedy Chef in just ten minutes with all natural ingredients. My husband loves to be a guinea pig and try out all the new recipes I’ll be presenting at a party. As for me, I adore making the mini croissants. My customers are always amazed at how nifty the molds are. And they love the croissants!
Recently, my unit manager congratulated me at a “meeting of the Cinderellas”. It may sound strange, but that's the way it works: you become a princess in the magical world of Tupperware! You share your time and friendship with so many people who love what they do and are happy. The ability to meet so many wonderful people has made me feel both happy and fulfilled. At first I was not even sure I could be a demonstrator because of my hearing problems. When my neighbor recruited me, I turned down the idea even though I was curious about the opportunity. I used the excuse that I already had a job at the Coop, a family, and a home to look after, but I agreed to host a party in the end. So, with the help of my cousin, colleagues from work and a friend of the family, I set out on my new adventure. Excited and a little anxious, I organized my first party. I went to meetings in the distributorship to get a clearer idea of the way it worked, and slowly, almost on tiptoe, I ventured into this new world.
I was given help and support by my unit manager, the distributor, and all of the other women I had gradually gotten to know in the process. Today, after three years as a Tupperware demonstrator and if I take stock of what I’ve achieved, I can confidently say that I’m now capable of running my own business and I can do it without a phone. Success in business has strengthened me and you have to be brave to do direct sales. It has taken me a lot of courage to tell my story, believe me! At first I wasn’t sure I could do it. And yet, here I am; talking about the breakthroughs and the sudden changes that sometimes make a difference to our lives. Unexpected opportunities come up every day in our lives, and you have to be quick and brave enough to catch them. My disability led me to become a strong and brave woman, and I am proud to say that I love the work that I do and how it encourages me each day to remain courageous and strong.
Ketty Fiori, Tupperware Italy: “It’s when we’re in trouble that we can prove to others and ourselves we have that something extra that makes the difference”
My life has been a bit like a rollercoaster, with a lot of ups and downs. But, my family and I are all still going strong. What saved us? Probably the friendships that this work has given me, all of which I’ve cherished for years. I often ask myself why I agreed to join the Tupperware world. I don’t quite know what attracted me to it, but I believe it was the challenge; a chance to show what I was made of. It certainly provided the boost I needed to get over a very difficult and troubled time that at one point cost my family everything we had. My husband had a trucking firm and I worked with him as a clerk. We’d made some risky decisions that unfortunately did not work out and our house had to be sold off. We rented a home and got back on our feet and I shortly began at Tupperware. The crisis taught all of us something about how to be careful with money and to not want everything at once. My husband was jobless for a long time and my work was crucial to pay our bills.
It all came about by chance. I attended a Tupperware party hosted by a neighbor, the way it happens to most of us. The demonstrator, without telling me anything, recommended me to her team leader. The following week she called to see if I’d be interested in giving it a try. I wanted to say no, but somehow I said yes. I was intrigued by the various products, but I knew myself; I never had a lot of patience and I thought it wasn’t the job for me. Instead, just a couple of months later I realized I was enjoying every minute of it. My family knew I was enjoying myself but soon realized the great commitment it meant. To me, it was a wonderful opportunity and I took it seriously. I had another morning job, working on a garment stall at the market, and I knew I could do both jobs without neglecting one or the other. Working as a sales assistant in the mornings never prevented me from doing demonstrations afternoons or evenings, but I decided after some time to devote myself full-time to Tupperware. Month after month, year after year, I’ve achieved a great deal and I have more self-respect.
Since I’d worked for my husband before, I had the idea I lacked great gifts or special qualities. Now I had a chance to be independent. But what really inspired me was that people liked me and enjoyed my company. They invited me to their homes to set up demonstrations and trusted both me and my products. At first my husband found it hard to believe I would keep up with the work, but I couldn’t afford to give it up. He didn’t understand at first, but eventually realized that it was a serious job with real benefits that was done by respectable people. If I needed help, he would be there to lend a hand.
I believe friendship means giving as well as taking. I have close ties with the friends I’ve made over the years and I think it's proof that this was the job for me. I always identify with people, including my customers. I understand sometimes they don’t buy because they’re not interested, or because perhaps they’re short of money. It does not hurt my feelings at all. The work has smoothed out some of the sharp edges in my personality because there is so much interaction involved. I’ve been very fortunate to meet some amazing people who have enriched me as a person.
I’ve cherished a lot of relationships that I have made through my work. The first person was Sara Berardi, who recommended me to her team leader and my first Distributor, Tony Placuzzi, who helped me to believe in my potential. Not to mention the many hosts over the years who have become close and irreplaceable friends. I never imagined so many wonderful people would become part of my life. Tupperware has changed my life because I believed in it. Of course there are times when things get complicated and it’s hard to move forward, but it’s when we are in trouble that we can prove to others and ourselves that we have that something extra that will make the difference. I never took it easy, even when things were going well. Our destiny really is in our own hands. I decided in 1994 (despite some misgivings) to take the plunge and become a team leader. It’s my job to choose and train the women who want to embark on this adventure. I teach them to stand on their own feet; exactly the way other extraordinary people did for me in the past. The only gripe I have is that I’ve never won a vacation with my husband. But he always tells me: “Go and have fun. I couldn’t keep up with your pace.” Like a lot of my colleagues, I’ve had had some wonderful vacations in recent years. I’ll always cherish the memories of my marvelous Baltic cruise and the visit to St. Petersburg, a city that I’d always dreamed of seeing. It was like something out of the Arabian Nights. We slept in grand hotels, with gala dinners and entertainments. From being Cinderellas in everyday life, there we became real princesses.