Born in Durrës, Albania, Afrim spent his early days going to the beach and enjoying the countryside with his siblings and cousins at his grandparent’s farmhouse. At the young age of fifteen Afrim moved to Florence, Italy where he found his passion for Tuscan leather craftsmanship. After school, Afrim would be found helping at his uncle’s local leather shop. He learned every aspect of the craft - the tanning of leather, the details of high quality hides, and the intricate process of handmade production. While learning the leather trade, Afrim also learned to speak not only Italian, but also English so that he could communicate with the customers that he encountered.
In his twenties Afrim opened his first businesses specializing in local, artisanal leather goods. Today, Tornabuoni Tuscany Leather Store has been a staple in Piazza Duomo, the heart of Florence, for over twenty years.
Much to his surprise, one day he would meet a California girl who later became, not only his partner in life, but partner in business at Tornabuoni Tuscany.
Born and raised in the coastal town of Ventura, California, Melissa grew up the youngest child of three, with two older brothers. Her free spirit was obvious at an early age. As the youngest girl, Melissa was determined to carve out her own path, spending much of her childhood chasing adventure. Growing up, Melissa was always pulled toward creative endeavors - drawing, fashion, enjoying the beauty of nature. The passing of her father when she was seven years old fueled not only her pursuit to live life to the fullest, but also fueled her determination to overcome any obstacle and to make her father proud.
After graduating from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo College of Architecture & Environmental Design, Melissa was inspired to take the path less traveled and it led straight to Italy. Armed with years of experience in both the retail and business world, Melissa set out for an Italian adventure that would change her life forever.
Building on the quality product that Afrim had been producing for twenty years, Melissa immediately began to expand the scope of the store - marketing the business that is now their shared passion.