My wife, Katharine, and I attended Ironstone Farm’s recent Spirit of Giving Gala at Andover Country Club, a place that was transformed into a Prohibition-era speakeasy. Many of us dressed for the occasion. My wife put together a flapper outfit and looked sensational. My tuxedo, worn since college, looked like it had actually seen some speakeasies.
Shortly after arriving, I talked with Enzo and Lina Fossella during a happy and boisterous cocktail hour, through which we managed a conversation. The Fossellas own Enzo of Andover, which supplies top-end clothing to men. When they first opened in 1983, the local paper took a fancy to the Fossellas, and pictures of them at one fundraiser or another appeared often.
Our dinner at the gala was especially pleasant because we were sitting next to Susan and Mike Tucker — she the former senator and past gala honoree, he a retired CEO of a publishing company and a supporter of Ironstone Farm.
Our table was close to where the emcee, Susan Wornick, a Boston journalist, was most amusingly moving the program toward the fundraising auction. At the same time, Enzo was working his way back to his table and was near Ms. Wornick when they were suddenly talking, with the 400 in attendance listening. Enzo, using his pleasing Italian accent, effusively told Wornick how wonderful she was, and she, somewhat embarrassed by the compliment, adroitly turned it all into part of the show. It caused lots of laughter.
Into the auction, Enzo, now with Lina at his table, extemporaneously spoke up to donate a handmade suit for auctioning. Then ensued the bidding, with Enzo joking back and forth with the bidders. All in all, I was pretty impressed so decided to find out more about Enzo and Lila.
In the middle of World War II, Enzo was 7 years old, living in Calabria, Italy. He was both an apprentice tailor and schoolboy. At age 16, he opened his own tailor shop. In 1954, he was 19 and had saved enough money to follow his father to America. Enzo left behind beautiful Lina, the girl across the street with whom he’d grown up. Four years later, after establishing himself in the clothing industry in Massachusetts, he returned to Calabria and they were married.
For the next 25 years, Enzo worked his way up in the clothing business, eventually becoming a fashion designer, and he and Lina raised a family. Then they opened Enzo of Andover, supplying handmade men’s clothing. For 23 years, he and Lina worked from the Musgrove Building and for the past seven years from 91 Main St. (near Lantern Brunch and the Andover Bookstore). Lina welcomes customers to the shop as well as does fine stitching. She was taught fine embroidering and knitting as a child in Italy. I asked Enzo how much he charges for a handmade men’s suit. He said about $4,500, adding that it takes 65 hours to make the suit, and the material is the very best.
Enzo and Lina haven’t kept their success to themselves. In addition to supporting such excellent nonprofits as Ironstone Farm, Enzo founded the Service Club of Andover 20 years ago with a mission to help developmentally disabled children. He says, “Those children are the most wonderful people on Earth.”
This is a great American success story.
Bill Dalton writes an occasional column for the Townsman. His email is BillDalton@AndoverTownie.com.