We get a ton of solicitation emails on a daily basis – mostly from leather factories in China or India, boasting “best quality leather goods, cheapest prices.” So imagine my surprise when we were contacted by Luke from DropForge Leather Care and found them to be an upstanding, legitimate business willing to back up their claim to be “the best in leather care.” At the risk of scaring them away, I immediately began firing off a million questions, all of which were answered promptly and confidently. Then they proceeded to send us samples of their products, which we gladly put to our test. Here is the result of our initial test:
Peggy volunteered to test the cream on her beloved black backpack. It had been around the block, and the color had faded into a yellowish grey. With one quick application to a small section of her backpack, we heard Peggy shout, “Oh my gosh!” Based on the decibel level, we feared that the lotion had burned a hole in her backpack or bleached it white. Peggy immediately rushed over, bag in hand. Luckily, she had a delighted look on her face. She showed us the result of her initial application of the cream, and it was as if a film of dirt was lifted from the surface of the leather:
Peggy’s initial test of the leather cream. Can you tell where she applied it?
We of course did some further tests on other items – from Daniele’s shoes and Colombo messenger bag to my boots and more. Did the new leather cream stand up to our test? Well, in short, yes … but since there are a lot of photos and even a video to show you, the full results will have to wait for a future post. For now, I’ll leave you with a link to literally the The Best Leather Cream We’ve Found.
Say that you sell an intriguing cappuccino cup and saucer set, that you love cappuccino, and that you happen to have an espresso machine at the office. Wouldn’t you want to try it?
The amazingly rooted in tradition koito pottery cappuccino set.
I spent a lot of time trying to decide if I should treat Emi and I to the special experience. Finally, in 2013, I decided to do it. We have since treated ourselves to cappuccino in these appealing cups daily, often twice daily. At first, I really wanted to figure out whether the cappuccino tasted better or worse in these cups. It did not take long to settle the question and realize that the cappuccino tasted about the same. I did develop the belief that the cup has to match the quantity of the beverage and that the cup should be at least two-thirds full when served. To achieve that I serve a double shot of espresso with milk foam mixed by a long-dive pour.
For us cappuccino is a ritual that separates night from day. I officially wake up as I have my cup and I internalize the daily task list during the ritual. Nothing before that happens unless I am absolutely coerced into it. Because it is such an important ritual in our lives the Kissa have made it very special. Pleasing to the eye, responsive to the touch, as I raise the cup to my lips something good happens.
One of our 2015 goals at Marcopoloni is to continue posting individual photos of each Campomaggi bag for sale on our website. That means each actual bag, front and back, so that you can preview the exact bag before you buy it. You can see this in action when you go to add a Colombo bag to your shopping cart, for example, and the pull-down menu lists a whole bunch of different options like ‘Distressed Cognac 1,’ ‘Distressed Cognac 2,’ etc. When you view the corresponding thumbnail photos on the page, you can see the exact bag front and back before adding it to your cart. Why? Because these Campomaggi bags of distressed leather can have so many differences – even among the same shipment of the same bags in the same color – that we realized we had to go the extra mile to successfully sell them and keep our Campomaggi fans happy.
You can see the unique markings from the leather distressing process on this Colombo messenger bag in Cognac color.
This is also a Colombo in Cognac – quite different from the one above!
It all started years ago when Emi and Daniele received the first shipment from Campomaggi. During a trip to Italy to find artisans, they had fallen in love with Campomaggi bags and decided to sell them here in the U.S. So they ordered eight different styles of bag. Upon opening the boxes, they realized some of the bags looked very different than the ones they’d seen in Campomaggi’s warehouse – things like darker or lighter shades than they saw before, bags that had two slightly different color straps, and major variations in color and texture in different parts of the same bag.
It turns out that Marco Campomaggi’s bags are intentionally made to be imperfect. They undergo a unique manufacturing process, where each bag is washed, dyed and distressed in its entirety after all the parts are put together – straps, lining and all. This technique (patented by Marco’s Campomaggi brand) not only gives his bags their vintage, weathered look, but also makes each single piece really a one-of-a-kind work of art. In fact, it GUARANTEES that no two bags are exactly alike. Because each “skin” is unique in the way it absorbs color, stretches and shrinks, each finished bag is distinct in its color, tonality, and texture. The resulting shape and size may also vary slightly.
Over time, we at Marcopoloni realized that showing each exact bag was the best way to offer top customer service. We encouWe have even been known to e-mail our customers photos of one of us wearing the bag, if modeling shots are not already posted on our website. It’s just one more way to ensure the best service for our customers. And it’s sure to keep us very busy through 2015 and beyond! Are there any photos of handbags you want to see? Or are you curious about this “going the extra mile” customer service? We encourage your phone calls and e-mails!
I have been wishing happy new year for a few years now, perhaps it will become a holiday tradition. Of course, as usual, I am a few days late, but I don’t plan on doing any better in the years to come: time with the kids is too much fun to worry about a technicality. Today is the Epiphany and the last day of the Christmas holidays in Italy. Tomorrow all of our vendors get back to work and I will begin working like a madman, but today I still have a pretty quiet day.
Hence I get to wish you a pretty relaxed HAPPY NEW YEAR and can move on to a few business thoughts.
2014 was the year of discovery for us. Emi and I finally completed our discussion to define our brand. This is a discussion that took us years to complete. Just as we did that we met a new artisan who embodies the philosophy of Marcopoloni 100%: Bahadir from Baharra Design House in New York who makes the most wonderful handcrafted jewelry rooted in the Turkish tradition. Earlier this year we went to visit Alessandro and Nicola and their families in Cortona, Italy and added to our catalog shoes that are to die for when you see the quality, workmanship, and design that they embody. At the end of the year we also added their wonderful bags and received our first leather jackets, which you will see in 2015.
In 2015 we will most likely add another leather artisan who makes unparalleled products. The skill involved in getting such finesse packed into their products is such that you do not see that ANYWHERE else. So if you have ever wished that you could have even better quality small leather accessories, 2015 will be an interesting year. We are also always looking for new vendors and would like to expand into scarves (it’s really difficult to find handmade textiles any more) and anything else that is soulful and handmade. If you have any ideas or suggestions please send them our way! Remember that Marcopoloni is dedicated to you and so getting the products that you suggest is a high priority for us as long as they fit with our philosophy.
So, have a great year and let’s see if we can have an even more amazing catalog by the end of the year. If you are a Marcopoloni fan, please tell your friends and family!
Yesterday one of our customers ordered the Pausania Vertical Shoulder Tote online. Because he knew we were a small, family-owned business that treats each customer like a friend, he quickly called us with a question about his order. He loved the bag – one of Campomaggi’s classic rugged-chic bags of top-grain, distressed leather – but there was one feature he wanted to change.
We go the extra mile! At customer request, Marcopoloni replaced the chain zipper pull on the Pausania with a leather one.
Instead of the leather zipper pull that Campomaggi uses on most of his bags, the Pausania has an antique-finish T-bar chain zipper pull that closes by threading it into a leather loop. Very elegant, but this customer asked if we could switch it out for a leather zipper pull on his Pausania. We looked through our box of Campomaggi parts and found a bag of leather zipper pulls and assured him that yes, it could be done.
Rummaging through our bag of tools, Emi extracted a pair of needle nosed pliers and set to work removing the chain zipper pull and replacing it with a leather zipper pull in Espresso color that perfectly matched the Pausania. This is just one example of how we at Marcopoloni offer customer service that is personalized. Our clients often tell us that calling or e-mailing our office is like catching up with a friend. We value each and every customer, and will try our best to help in any way we can.
One of the very complex Murano glass sculptures is the large clown. The large clown is by far more complicated and detailed than the typical ten-inch figurines. Thanks to their complexity, large clown characters evoke one of the widest ranges of emotions of any of the objects that we carry including happiness, fear, compassion, sadness, etc.
A Murano Glass clown by Mario Costantini is an intricate patchwork of design features.
The clown in the picture delivered many emotions to me. It was supposed to be our first clown ever and I was going to feature it in our December newsletter. It seemed to be so carefully packaged, I was taking a video of the unveiling, and then we discovered that the bird had broken off his arm. I was so happy and excited and when I saw that my heart sank and I sulked the whole day. I spent a long time admiring the beauty of the bird and wondering if there was a way to fix it. I gave up when I noticed a small crack in the saxophone. That’s business, I suppose. Although it was packaged really well it didn’t survive a week’s worth of handling. I showed it to Sara (the owner of the glass factory and my point of contact) and she was so kind as to give me a credit. But I don’t want to get the same clown just to see it arrive broken again. I will probably try something simpler until we can figure out a foolproof way to package it.
I don’t know yet of anyone looking for Murano glass clowns of this quality. If you are one of them, please get in touch with me and I will figure out a way to get it to you unbroken. Coincidentally, today I got an e-mail from a customer who had asked us to replace a broken lampshade. She was so happy and thankful that it rewarded me for all the extra work. But I shouldn’t call it work: that’s what I love to do.
The year is almost over and the holidays are here. If you are fortunate to be able to share time with friends and family, don’t forget that they will need a place to hang their coat. This is especially true if you are having many people over: an entertainment room is better equipped if there are sufficient hooks for all the coats so that they don’t end up piled up on a bed somewhere.
The HUNGOVER Wine Glass Coat Wall Hook is festive and has party written all over it.
Despite the positive economic news we hear lately, what I have heard from customers and other business owners all year long is that the year wasn’t all that exciting, so why would I be talking about being merry? Mainly because les jeux sont faits, the year is about over and there is little more that can be done. On the other hand, taking some time with family and friends is something that we can always look back to.
And so, why would I shamelessly promote my wares? Because I want to make the connection that our products have with good times. Antartidee products are way more than functional, they often stir up laughter and conversations and they are known to break the ice. Let me raise a toast to a friendlier tomorrow!
After four months of wearing my distressed Maledetti Toscani ankle boots I have two thoughts: they look even cooler, and they are starting to mold around my feet.
Fall has arrived. Actually Northern California winter has arrived. It is cold enough to wear jeans and so I wear my STUPENDO Ankle Boots at least 3 times a week with great pride and it is a pleasure to feel the artisanship on my feet.
The STUPENDO Handmade Leather Ankle Boot with zipper open
To ensure that I properly tested them, I took them on most of my long walks pushing Marco’s stroller. The park is pretty far so the round trip is a solid forty minutes. Despite what could prove a relationship-ending test, the fire has endured and I am still in love with the shoes. As I was saying, although the shoes felt stiff at first and I was considering a rubber sole, with time they started to mold around my foot and now the thought of rubber soles does not return.
I have gotten to know the ankle boots well: the zippers occasionally come a few notches undone and I have to pull them back up. I was getting ready to warn customers of the flaw, but, in reality, it only happens occasionally and they don’t unzip so much that the boot becomes loose. The other thing to know is that if you are holding a baby and want to slip these on… it won’t work (unless you really force the issue at the risk of deforming the shoes). A long shoe horn can come to the rescue in this case. I have learned to put the baby in the car seat and then put my shoes on.
After four months it is time for me to polish them. But when is life going to hand me fifteen minutes to do that? Even without a polish, they still look very good. My best friend said he would gladly wear a pair. He has wide feet, we are going to try going a size up and it should work out. I have average-width feet and the shoes feel roomy, but not cavernous.
I recently talked to someone who wandered why pay more for a pair handmade shoes. I looked at his TV and asked him why did he pay more to have a 70″ TV? The pride, quality, and design that go into these shoes deliver an experience that the other shoes simply do not. That is why.
I was walking at the mall while Chiara was attending a birthday party and I saw a sign outside of a restaurant that said: “TWO THINGS ARE BETTER THAN ONE”.
I don’t think so.
But that is the marketing logic that we have come to accept. Yet, I think, it should be challenged.
When it comes to food, could it be that one dish with finer ingredients is better than two dishes made with cheaper ingredients or less skillfully prepared? By following this train of thought I realize that pretty much everything we consume faces a trade off between quality and quantity–and quantity is not necessarily always the winner.
On the other hand, I am not sure that quality is necessarily always the winner either. But it does seem to be the winner when it comes to the artisanal products that we sell at Marcopoloni.
So my point is not that quality is always better than quantity but it is just as valiant a competitor in the fight, especially for things that are so important to us like food. That is why I was so moved by that sign: because we are what we eat and we should carefully evaluate the food that we intake.
We had an experience that somewhat makes this point. When we went to a wedding in Japan Emi bought a pair of shoes that were suitable to wear with her dress and looked nice. But we had to walk to the reception and we watched these shoes come apart and Emi’s feet scream for something comfortable. After the reception, the first thing we did was get a pair of traditional Japanese wooden flip flops and happiness was restored.
That experience seems to repeat itself when we choose to buy something cheap. Again, I think of shoes, Chiara’s shoes in this case. How many pairs of supposedly decent shoes have we bought that didn’t event last her a season? I upgraded her to Maledetti Toscani shoes and she is outgrowing them, finally! Now the problem is that Marco is not really going to be into girlie shoes, will he?
Do you embrace quality of quantity at least some of the times? We think it is worth it.
The fourth style of new Campomaggi bags introduced for the spring summer collection of 2015 is a line of overnight bags that features pleated leather towards the handle. The pleats are lined with discrete brass studs. These bags are not just unique models that we had never seen before but they are also presented the new colors including the cotto which is a terracotta color that is brown but much richer, just like actual terracotta.
The large pleated satchel by Campomaggi. Here seen in Cognac.
These bags show Marco Campomaggi is an avid traveler of both time and space. He told me how he likes to go to flea market to look at old bags from a time past to find inspiration and design ideas. These travel bags remind me of the bags we used to carry as teenagers as we left for our summer vacations. Growing up I didn’t realize the quality of bags that were in my hands. But now I realize that they lasted for so long for a reason: they were built to last, and with the right kind of leather.
That is exactly the feeling I get from these bags today. Excellent leather, craftsmanship, and design come together in a product that is build to last and go places in the process.
Let me know if you see the same in these bags. The SCARPA is the smaller one and the one we received in Cotto.