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The Iron Lady

  • Capanna Alessandra, owner of a local dry-cleaning service in Cagli, Italy, steams and irons a customer's shirt in her store
  • Alessandra provides dry-cleaning services on her street in Cagli, Italy.
  • Alessandra, owner and sole employee of her dry-cleaning service in Cagli, Italy, irons a coat in her store.
  • Alessandra dry-cleaning service after 27 years in Cagli, Italy, June 16, 2015 and continues to do her part in the larger community.
  • Customers and friends join Alessandra in her story for conversation while helping her with her tasks.
  • Alessandra, left, takes calls while friends help her with some tasks in her dry-clean service.
  • Alessandra Capanna has owned a dry-clean service and uses the tools she has to support the larger Cagli community.

Story and photos by Carl Hudson

Capanna Alessandra moves quickly between her ironing board and her busy dry-clean machine in her modest-yet-charming store. Her maroon dress moves effortlessly around her as she examines a pair of dark green pants for wrinkles.

Finding a fold in the pants, she grabs her iron and slides it across the wrinkles while letting the steam move through. As she presses the iron to the board, two of her friends sit across the small room and discuss the happenings within her small Italian town of Cagli.

During her 27 years in business, she has lived by two key principles—quality and punctuality. Having a business can be hard, Alessandra explains, but it is hers, and she makes it work.

Photos of her family mingle with the brilliantly white wedding dresses that stand out against the splintered, wooden wall across from her ironing board. It touches her heart, she says, that her clients entrust her with an item as significant as a wedding dress.

She takes pride and satisfaction in doing her part for the larger Cagli community, she says. Her best advertisements are personal relationships and word-of-mouth recommendations.

In 1988, Alessandra decided to take out a loan to buy the laundry service when terms with the bank were easier after feeling dissatisfied working as a laundress around Cagli, she wanted a change. She hated that her days were ruled by uncertain variables in the laundry profession, she says.

When an elderly man decided to sell his laundry service within the town, she came up with one-third of the cost of the store and took out a loan to buy the dry-cleaning service. Six months later, she was able to pay for another third of the loan. The economy was good back then, she says.

She likes everything about her business, she says. She answers to no supervisor.

According to Alessandra, working in dry cleaning has served as a great conduit to get to know the citizens who need her services and meet new customers who may come in for conversation as well.

To this day, she continues serving clients within Cagli and other customers in the outer lying parts of the town. Quality and punctuality has continued to ensure her business remains an important community commodity. She greets each customer with an air of familiarity and discusses the services they need.

There is nothing sloppy about her business, she explains, and the community deserves nothing less than her best.