Under One Umbrella has sun protection covered…literally
You could say that Cristina Mistri saw the sunshine through the clouds, no pun intended. The Under One Umbrella owner had spent two years working for an Italian outdoor company when they suddenly closed their doors. Needing work, and sensing opportunity in a single product the company had carried, she took a leap of faith.
“I exchanged the commission owed to me for an inventory of umbrellas, borrowed $300 for new business cards, corporation papers and stickers and I introduced myself to existing customers as the new company,” says Mistri.
Today, more than a decade later, Under One Umbrella is the exclusive American distributor of Poggesi umbrellas as well as carrying gazebos, pergolas, retractable awnings and other sun shade accessories. With Mistri at the helm (and her two children working next to her) she works with both commercial and residential clients to find the right shade solutions. “For the first 10 years our business developed in the restaurant and hotel market, and we have become one of the leading providers of umbrellas on South Beach,” said Mistri, who is originally from Italy but came to the U.S. more than three decades ago. “The residential market has been growing in the last few years and that’s where we are developing more.”
The Under One Umbrella process is simple. Mistri and her staff meet with the clients on-site to determine what solution best fits their needs. After the product and size are determined they then go over color, base type and other details. Once satisfied, the order usually takes about four weeks to produce. Her most popular item? The O.N.E. Original New Evolution, which Mistri says appeals to most clients because of its simplicity. “Our customers are looking for a simple and elegant umbrella that is designed to their specification.”
Beyond aesthetics, many Under One Umbrella customers find they reap deeper benefits by shielding themselves from the Florida sun. “We like to say that we help prevent skin cancer,” Mistri said. “The sun’s rays are getting stronger and stronger, and everyone likes to be under shade.” Additionally, Mistri says she enjoys the interaction with clients, which allows her to meet new people and help them bring their design ideas to fruition.
The community also factors in to the way the company operates on a day-to-day basis. Mistri says their commitment to the environment inspired them to find creative ways to make use of leftover parts. “All of our remains of material are sent to the Sunbrella recycling plant and with our leftover aluminum we build a lot of our furniture, frames and other things,” she said. “It is our intention, with the new showroom coming, to create useful items from our scraps and sell them, giving the profit to one of our local non-profit organizations.”
As the company looks forward they’re also looking toward new trends in the outdoor market. Mistri says in addition to a continuing rollout of new umbrella designs and models, outdoor spaces are now being used as an extension of the indoors, with lighting and misting systems as well as drop curtains creating useable and comfortable outdoor rooms. But at it simplest, the owner says her products are appealing to the market at large… especially in South Florida. Says Mistri, “People, in general, love shade.”