In the middle of downtown St. Louis, about five miles from the region’s historic Italian neighborhood, a mother-and-daughter team are trying to create an authentic Italian shopping experience. The walls are painted green, red and orange inside of Mama Figlia, pronounced (feel-ya), which means “mother daughter” in Italian. The shop is modeled after the seaside town of Burano, where brightly painted boats match the brightly painted houses. The stock includes pashminas, silk ties, wine-flavored bubble bath and chocolate soap. Stephanie Russell and her mother, Deb Dubson, found inspiration in the architecture to leap into a new partnership.

How did you come up with the idea?

Stephanie: I’m one of two owners of the Dubliner next door. I’m the chef. This spot had been sitting empty for a little while, and the landlord was willing to give a good rent rate to get it rented. My husband suggested that my mother and I do something.

What was your vision for the shop?

Deb: My vision was that we would be a complement to the Hill. We would offer Italian gift items set in a location that had the charm and feel of a shop in Italy. Along with the product, the look and feel of the shop is very important to me. As well as mainly Italian products, we supplement with locally made items, such as local art, chocolate and coffee.

One of the most important things to me is that we know the story of each piece of merchandise.

Read more

Photo by