An Interview with Simonetta Lein - International Fashion Influencer and "Wishmaker"

Best-selling author, journalist, international fashion and lifestyle blogger/influencer with more than a million followers on Social Media, brand ambassador, actress, television and radio personality, entrepreneur, philanthropist and "Wishmaker" are just a few of the many accomplishments of Ms. Simonetta Lein

Photo courtesy of Giovanni Gastel

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Simonetta and chat with her about all things fashion, family and making wishes come true.

(TMW) Tell me a little bit about yourself- Where did you grow up?  What was your family life like?

(SL) I was born and raised in a very small village in northern Italy. As a little girl, my personality was reminiscent of Alice in “Alice in Wonderland”, as I had a wild and vivid imagination… I was a dreamer.  

My family was quite unconventional, especially for a rural Italian town.  My father is a successful homeopathic doctor, who started his practice years before natural remedies became an accepted alternative to western medicine in Italy.   My mother is a psychotherapist, who also established a leading cultural center in our village, 20 plus years ago.  I remember, as a child, that a group from Japan came to our village to attend a seminar at the cultural center.  I noticed the look of pure shock on some of our neighbors’ faces as foreign visitors in general were a rarity, no less a large group from Japan.   Italy is not a cultural melting pot, like the United States, yet I grew up in a stimulating and multi-cultural environment due to my family upbringing.  At the time, I felt a bit out of place as my family was incredibly progressive, living in an environment that was very old school.  However, looking back on it now, I know that my upbringing was a great privilege as it taught me about diversity and tolerance at a very young age.

(TMW) You have had a pretty diverse career thus far- Best-selling author, actress, television and radio personality, journalist, international fashion and lifestyle blogger/influencer, brand ambassador, entrepreneur and philanthropist.  That is a long list of job titles.  What made you explore so many different career paths?

(SL) I guess I have a multi-faceted personality and subconsciously felt that settling for one career path would bore me.  There are so many aspects of life that fascinates me, and I have had the privilege to explore many different cultures, and meet many different people.  With so many varying interests, why should I settle for just one career?   They are all connected as they all reflect a part of me.  Would I try right now to switch gears and become a brain surgeon or rocket scientist?  Probably not… But, maybe in my next lifetime. 

Photo courtesy of Mayastar Lavi

(TMW) In 2013, you published your first novel titled “Tutto ciò che si vuole”.  Please tell me about your book.  What was your inspiration behind it? 

(SL) “Tutto ciò che si vuole” was published by Sperling & Kupfer, one of the largest literary publishing houses in Italy. It is currently available on Amazon.com, translated in English, and named “Everything is Possible”.  The novel was inspired by a trip I took to India with a friend. During my travels, I kept a diary, and several time a day, I documented my journey, my personal experiences and the incredible cast of characters that I met along the way. When I returned home, I shared my journal with a friend who read it and ended up sending it to a very notable book editor.  He loved the story that I told, and asked me to collaborate and help transform my journal into a book. It took three years to complete the project.  When I finally received the phone call that my book was in fact being published, it was the most incredible feeling.  It was something that I dreamed about and I really believe that though the power of determination and strong intention, my dream came to fruition.  The book is about the power of wishes, part my true story and part fiction. 

(TMW) Are you planning a follow up to that book?

(SL) My second novel is close to completion, and is based on another true story.  Without giving away too much, the book is about love, relationships, being a teenager and a strong bond with a horse that was saved from sure death to later become a champion. The horse is actually still alive and living out his old age. 

(TMW) You have become known as one of the leading fashion influencers of Italy.  That’s quite a feat considering that Italy is considered one of the fashion capitals of the world.  How did you become interested in writing about fashion?  Which publications have you written for in the past and who do you write for now?

(SL) The first publication I wrote for was Vanity Fair Italy. After my first novel was published, and I garnered recognition as an author, I pitched them the idea of mixing fashion and celebrities with wishes and inspirations.  They loved it and I wrote for V.F for two years.  Currently, I contribute to D la Repubblica magazine.  When I was a little girl, I told my father that I wanted to be a super model when I grew up.  I guess I always had a flair and passion for fashion. 

Photo courtesy of Carlo Battillocci

(TMW) I heard through the grapevine that you are launching a clothing line?  Can you talk about that?

(SL) I am so incredibly excited about this!  Yes, I am launching my first namesake clothing line this Fall to Holiday season.  It will be an ultra-chic and wearable, limited addition dress collection.  My goal is to make every woman who wears one of my pieces feel beautiful and inspired.  They are being manufactured to look fabulous on any body type, and versatility is top priority.  In addition, part of proceeds from the sale of each dress on our website will be donated to the charity I created, The Wishwall Foundation.

(TMW) This year, you decided to move from Italy to Philadelphia. That is a huge change, considering that your career and fame was built and established in Italy.  Why risk moving to the USA?  Isn’t that practically starting over?

(SL) It is, and the reason I made such a major life change is true love.  Can you think of a better reason?  My husband is American, we met in Italy and he lived with me for several years in Rome.  His dream was to move us back to the United States in order to start a new life and eventually raise our family. We have no real family or friends in Philadelphia. It just so happened that we fell in love with the city, and it’s incredible and rich history.  However, it is very difficult… Starting completely over always is.  I miss my country and my mother and father each and every day. However, we found a beautiful 19th century stone house to call our home.  George Washington marched through my back yard, Grace Kelly grew up three houses from ours in one direction and Frank Sinatra got married to Eva Gardner three houses in the opposite direction. What could be more inspiring?

(TMW) Let’s talk about The Wishwall Foundation.  Tell me about it.  What was your inspiration behind the launching of this charity? 

(SL) After my book about the power of wishes was published, I thought to myself how great it would be if there was actually some sort of forum where anyone could publically share their wishes and dreams; a cyber-community of like-minded individuals, committed to helping one another other achieve their various goals.  So, it began as my dream, which turned into a blog, which blossomed into the foundation and online community- www.wishwallfoundation.com  The process is very simple.  You go to the website, click on Make Your Dream Come True, write about your story and dream and then post it.  The Wishwall community has grown into a global network, and members of our community help one another, through a pay it forward mentality, to fulfill attainable dreams.  Whether it’s a member of our staff, a volunteer or a community member, every wish posted is answered in some way.  Our philosophy revolves around the concept that when you make a clear and specific determination in your life, you will have an effect.  We believe very strongly in the old adage: “Be careful what you wish for” as the universe will inevitably answer you.

(TMW) Please tell me your favorite wish that you were able to grant through the foundation.

(SL) Nuri Baresi, an Italian/Brazilian/Tunisian old teenager wrote to us due to his passion for soccer. He shared his compelling story of abandonment, extreme financial stress, and bullying.  His solace was playing soccer, and his dream was to own a new pair of a soccer cleats, as well as shirt worn by his favorite soccer player, Paul Pogba.

Soon after Nuri’s story and wish was posted, we received an email from a community member who offered to help.  This person purchased and sent Nuri a pair of top of the line soccer cleats so that he could continue playing his favorite sport.  We contacted the soccer team that his hero plays for, and they not only sent him an autographed team shirt, but they invited him for a personal meet and greet and team “try out”.  As it turned out, Nuri was a highly gifted soccer player, and at the age of 16, he was recruited to play professionally for that team.  Like a domino effect, this sequence of events completely changed the trajectory of this kid’s future, and it was all due to the availability of a place to post his dream.  It’s incredibly powerful and inspiring.

Photo Courtesy of Giovanni Gastel

(TMW) You call yourself a “Wishmaker”.  If you were granted one wish, what would that wish be?

(SL) Honestly, my greatest wish is to continue helping people achieve their wishes and desires.  I deeply hope that The Wishwall Foundation continues to grow so that I can always be a part of something as meaningful as grating someone’s wish; there is nothing on the planet that gives me greater joy than that.

For more information about Simonetta Lein, please visit www.simonettalein.com

To make a wish or donate to The Wishwall Foundation, please visit www.wishwallfoundation.com

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