Susan Gravely

Your Name: Susan Gravely

Business Name: VIETRI, an importer of handcrafted Italian tableware and home decor products

Type of Business: Other — Largest American Importer of Fine Italian Handcrafted Tableware and Home and Garden Accessories

Business Location: Hillsborough, North Carolina, United States

Twitter @vietri

Reason for starting
My mother, sister, and I took a family trip to Italy, where we stayed at a beautiful hotel on the Amalfi Coast. At the hotel, we became fascinated both by the Mediterranean colors and the mix and match aspect of the patterns on the hand-painted dinnerware. We decided then and there to bring the dinnerware to America to start a company named VIETRI, representing TRE VITE, reversed syllables for three Lives, my mother, sister, and myself.

How do you define success?
Success is defined not only by the profitability that makes a company grow and prosper but more importantly, by the happiness, sense of worthiness, and individual success of every employee who works for the company.

Biggest Success
Celebrating our 30th anniversary this year with 30 happy and successful years!

What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
A big challenge was making sure that family members and owners respected each other and felt valued in their positions. My sister retired this year, and our goal was met – that firstly we are sisters who love each other very much and also loved working together. Frances and I tried to keep all communications open, used our Board of Directors as advisors, and sought Family Business consultants when needed. An ongoing challenge is continuously evaluating the mission and vision of VIETRI and making sure it is a priority in everything we do. Because our employees value their work and value their responsibilities, it is an easy challenge. We keep open channels of communication and listen to all ideas for achieving the best results.

Who is your most important role model?
My most important role model is absolutely my mother, Lee Gravely. Momma has always said we are only a plane ticket or a phone call away, so we should travel, explore, and learn about the world. She also said to never make big decisions at night because the right answer becomes more clear in the morning. She also has great common sense and a great sense of humor – keys to a life of happiness!!