Catching Up With Irma Romanazzi

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The secret weapon of Tonfly’s designs, Italian fashionista turned skydive brand designer, Irma Romanazzi is a familiar face around Europe

Irma at home in Slovenia
Photo by Tim Theodore

Over the years that I worked at Skydive Spain I met a lot of faces. So many people from around the world, all with unique and beautiful qualities. One of those that I met had a lasting impression. Irma Romanazzi. A petite woman with a big, gentle presence. Still very much a beginner skydiver when we met, I got to witness some of her personal evolution in skydiving and personal life. Watching her push past her fears in the sport, growing her confidence and finding, pursuing and growing her love of yoga and other sports was inspiring to witness. Irma has been in the sport for many years both on the business side as well as the jumper side. And although she takes her time in her pursuit of skydiving. she’s definitely very present in the sport. Irma has created a lot of the designs we see in the branding of some of our biggest names in the sport, and she’s a known face around European events. I caught up with Irma to highlight this passionate woman who has been in our sport over a decade and continues to enjoy our sport in a relaxed and present way. 

Where are you from, where are you based out of and how many skydives do you have?

I’m from Italy, but I’ve been traveling around Europe for the past 10 years. I’m currently based between Portugal (Alvor) and Slovenia  (Bovec).

I have a little over 800 skydives.

How did you get into skydiving?

Probably like the majority, I discovered skydiving by pure luck as I went with a friend that booked a tandem jump. At that time I knew absolutely nothing about it. Nor did I know that there was a drop zone 5 minutes away from home.

I was immediately drawn in by the community and the energy of the dropzone. A week after my first and second tandem (done on the same day)  after I had that first taste of freefall, I was hooked. I could not think about anything else.

Above the Algarve
Photo by Stefania Martinengo

Where do you work and what do you do? 

I am a Graphic Designer, and I specialize in creating custom artwork on skydiving gear, mainly on suits, helmets and containers, as well as developing logos, ads, brand identity and pretty much everything that orbits around the graphic design field of work.

I have worked as a freelancer for the last 10 years and own my design company, IR Design.

2023 also marks 10 years of solid partnership with Tonfly. I manage anything creative-related. From custom graphics, to website appearance and content, ads, brochures, social media. Basically I get to work on the fun part and make things look pretty and catchy. When I’m not on my laptop, you can find me talking about skydiving gear. I’m a total geek and enjoy very much explaining gear and how it has been conceived. This is why I love to work as a vendor during a few events we attend in summer.

How did you get into design? 

I knew I wanted to be a designer since I can remember. My other goal was to become an astronaut. Let’s say I didn’t end up landing too far away from my childhood target. 

I attended art school and specialized in graphic design. Life took me on different paths for many years until I started skydiving and reunited with my everlasting love of design. That’s when I started working to make a living out of it.

Happy landings
Photo by Felix Wetterberg

How did you start working with Tonfly? 

I met Antonio and Martina through Filippo Fabbi (Ippo) back in 2012 during Vector Festival. By combining my passion for skydiving and graphic design, I started collaborating with them on some tasks like making their images a bit nicer, renewing the logos of their gear, etc. Soon after, I thought about creating custom designs on suit and helmets. 

Around that time in 2011-2012, people requested embroidery or patched logos to make their suits a bit more special. I thought, “Why don’t we offer something unique and special instead?“

I was a young girl with a big passion in fashion and design in a sport which I loved, where nothing screamed “feminine.” Since I was a teenager, I would sew my own dresses and create something that nobody had. So this idea of customizing suits really came from that passion. 

Canopy designs for Tora-Tora by Irma Romanazzi
Photo by Schier Concepts

What has your skydiving progression been like? 

I would describe my skydiving progression as a rollercoaster of emotions, with ups and downs. Like the best love affairs, you love it and it drives you crazy at the same time. I’ve started full on for a few years, but the more I was concentrating on my design career, the less I would jump. The less I jumped the more I had fears related to not being current.

For a few years, I wasn’t even sure why I was jumping. I realized my on/off relationship with skydiving was due to me not really having a good relationship with my body. No strength, no body awareness. This has changed dramatically in the past 4 years and set me off on a beautiful path.

A familiar face for many in Europe
Photo by Manuel Maia

Who are some of your heroes/influences in the sport? 

I have a few heroes and influences I really look up to who have taught me so much on such different levels and areas. Firstly, Ippo Fabbi. He was the first person that ever pushed me to pursue my dream. He showed me that I could trust myself and my potential to make my passion into a living. Him and Antonio de Marchi (of Tonfly) had key roles in supporting my personal and professional growth. We are a great team and we accomplished such amazing things in the past 10 years.

The second person is actually you, Alethia! You’ve been such an important role model for me. You introduced me to body and mind awareness. To yoga. To meditation and to so much more. These past 4 years have been a constant discovery of what my body and mind can achieve, as well as overcome blocks, traumas, and build self confidence.

The third one is Julian Barthel. He’s been an important reference. We’ve become very close friends and I’m so grateful to have him in my life. His approach to the sport, as well as his approach to life is such an inspiration. He helped me a lot overcome blocks I had developed in the sport.  

You got into yoga a few years back and I have been able to witness such progress which is awesome. How has yoga helped you in the sport? 

Yoga has helped me on so many levels. It’s incredible. It has not only made my body strong and flexible, but my mind too. Yoga taught me how to be more balanced. How to cope with challenging situations, fears, with setbacks. And not only in skydiving: yoga opened me up to so many other sports.

Slack lining is also something you’ve picked up – has that helped you in flying also? 

Slacklining has helped a lot as well in both body and mind. I started practicing it two years ago and I’m so in love with it. In yoga, you find that balance and strength by holding a pose. On a slackline, the balance is found through movement and through flowing. It’s demanding on the body. Especially when you start walking lines longer than 25-30 meters. You’re really using your core, your arms and shoulders.

Yoga and slacklining have both brought such a huge value to my progression in flying. 

Slacklining as a passion
Photo by Alexandra Duggal

How do you approach a day of learning in the sky when you’re at a camp or working with a coach? 

I get very serious and focused. I prepare my body with yoga and meditation before and after jumping. I make sure my work is done so I can focus only on learning and jumping. I visualize the jump 3 times while on the plane ride. It usually takes me a few jumps to feel less stressed, more confident and ready to give 100%. But then it’s on.

What are some long term goals in skydiving? 

I guess my long term goal at the moment is to develop more self confidence in my skills and keep on flying as much as possible.

Irma is always happiest in nature
Photo by Tim Theodore

What advice would you give to a new jumper just getting started? 

That body and mind awareness are essential foundations in progression. And to follow your passions, always.

Any last words you want to leave readers with? 

The last 12 years in this sport have been so magical. It fills my heart to think of all the people I have met, jumped with and shared beautiful moments with along the way. I have made so many beautiful friendships and traveled to so many beautiful places because of skydiving. I feel deeply grateful and humbled to be part of this community.

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Meet: Alethia Austin

Alethia is a passionate full time international angle and freefly coach. As the creator of LSD Bigway Camps and LSD Angle Camps, she's been running skills camps in skydiving for over 8 years around the world. Some of her coaching and LSD camps have taken her to Botswana, Egypt, Central America, North America, Europe and more. Alethia brings her years of yoga teaching, love of good health and healthy living into the way she coaches angle flying and vertical flying. Alethia was a regional captain for the Women's Vertical World Record and has two world records. Her sponsors include UPT, Tonfly, PD, Cypres and LB Altimeters.

You can find her on Instagram at Instagram.com/alethiaja

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