Campomaggi: Online vs. Real Life

campomaggiwoven

Before I started working at Marcopoloni I had visited their website numerous times, browsing through the different bags, impressed by the wide variety of styles. I was always intrigued by the Campomaggi bags, rugged with the perfect “already worn-in” look. I never took the plunge and purchased a bag though as I had become jaded to the whole online shopping idea, with previous purchases from other online retailers not quite living up to the perfectly photo-shopped pictures on their websites. It was so disappointing to receive the shipping box I had been excitedly anticipating only to discover the item I ordered looked nothing like I was expecting or the quality was poor. So I just kept browsing….

Flash forward to five months ago, when I came to work for Marcopoloni and was personally introduced to the Campomaggi bags that I had admired from afar. It was love at first sight, and smell.

As my desk is located in the Campomaggi warehouse, the first thing I noticed about these bags was their unique scent. It’s hard to describe, but they have a rich, slightly fruity, buttery smell that is different from any other leather products I have been around. It’s not overwhelming, but just strong enough to remind you that your bag is a Campomaggi. They should really think about making air fresheners, I’d love my car to smell like a Campomaggi bag.

The construction and quality of the bags makes Campomaggi really stand out to me. The leather is soft, yet just by looking at it, you can tell that it is top notch. You can feel from the weight of the bag that is it solidly made, and the rivets and buckles are heavy duty and made to last. But the thing that I most love about Campomaggi is how the distressing and dyeing can affect the look of each and every bag. As the leather is distressed after the bag is put together, each bag becomes truly unique, there is nothing cookie cutter about Campomaggi.  Two “Espresso” colored bags can be two totally different shades of brown, and one bag can have beautiful variations of color across its body. One thing that impresses me about Marcopoloni is their insistence in making sure that their customers can see every single Campomaggi bag that is available for purchase. By taking the time to photograph and post each bag, Marcopoloni gives the customer shopping on the website the unique experience of being able to pick out the exact bag they would like.

 

turriano-vinaccia-threeways

An example of how each individual bag accepts dye differently. Three Campomaggi TURRIANO Crossbody Bags in the Vinaccia color.

 

 

bassani-distgrigio-colorvariation

Campomaggi’s BASSANI Hobo Bag with a beautiful variation of color.

I know from personal experience that there is just the right bag out there. As I walked in the warehouse everyday, the DOLCI bucket bag kept calling out to me as a bag I’d love to own. I was deciding between the Cognac or Espresso color, but I wasn’t quite sold yet. Until the day we received DOLCI Cognac #6. There was something about that particular bag that made me say “yep, that’s the one”, some slight variation in the color or cut of the woven leather that made it stand out.

Now that I’ve spent so much time around the Campomaggi brand, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy one online, as I know the quality would be exactly what I would expect. Although I would only buy it from Marcopoloni.com 🙂

 

 

 

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Il Bisonte: High-Quality Italian Leather Goods with Minimalist Style

Il Bisonte Logo Tote

Il Bisonte bags and accessories are designed to pursue what they call “classic originality”, marrying clean lines and functionality.

Last summer, while playing my weekly co-ed recreational soccer game, I got an email. It was from a company called Il Bisonte, reaching out because they thought that our philosophy of preserving the way of the artisan would be a good match for their products. While we receive a lot of business solicitations along the lines of “trendy leather bags, very cheap price!”, it’s rare to get a thoughtful email from someone offering products that are in tune with what we are about. I showed the photos of their products to my teammates and received immediate positive feedback, so I hurried home to share the excitement with Daniele, slowly allowing myself to become cautiously optimistic about this brand.

Fast forward 9 months and here we are, proudly carrying a selection of these Florentine leather goods ranging from business card holders to tote bags. With the long-anticipated arrival of the Spring/Summer collection at the end of the month, our catalog will more than double – expanding into categories such as backpacks, weekenders, coin purses and key cases. In the meantime, we have quickly developed an admiration for Il Bisonte’s philosophy of creating high-quality, minimalist leather goods, where the amazing quality of the vegetable-tanned Tuscan vacchetta leather takes center stage. Yes, for me, it’s the leather – it’s always been about the leather. I was pretty much sold the moment I laid eyes on this before and after comparison showing just how gracefully Il Bisonte products age:

Il Bisonte Before and After

See How Beautifully Il Bisonte Leather Ages!?

I immediately invested in the large Il Bisonte logo tote (shown above) and am looking forward to watching the leather deepen in color and acquire that wonderful patina over the years. If you Google “Il Bisonte”, it’s not hard to find fans worldwide boasting about their “20-yr old handbag” or “30-yr old key case” – and I absolutely love that.

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Campomaggi at Pitti

Campomaggi Bauletto in 2017 Winter style

2017 version of the iconic Campomaggi Bauletto

Pitti is a wonderful show for us at Marcopoloni because handmade and unique high-quality products abound. The boat-loads of style, like it or not, are infectious and even I try to look my best, and even a little stylish.

One person who, instead, has style in his DNA is Marco Campomaggi. The Campomaggi booth stands out at Pitti as his style is rich and is already in touch with the wishes of the audience (it is not so far out that it gives you pause and then some). It is amazing to me to see how many and how quickly people jump on board the Campomaggi wagon. For those of us already familiar with Campomaggi, a new collection is always rich of surprises and interesting new twists. I personally was very happy with the new collection as it improved existing themes and introduced new ones that made me decide to try them. This doesn’t always happen when a new collection is introduced.

As we walked into the booth, we were welcomed by a new version of the Dolci that featured etched patterns some of which were gold plated. The etching is done by a machine but the gold plating is done by hand as is the placement of the studs, which have become ornate and, quite simply, pretty (see picture above).

As we explored the booth we saw a men’s briefcase in finely crackled that was much more attractive than a similar leather style from the past, padded nylon bags that looked great and light for travelling, new bag sizes that fit specific needs from a larger Dolci to a toiletries bag and eyeglasses cases. A line with studs on a woven leather pattern with strips about two inches wide (this looked gorgeous but heavy, heavier than the usual Campomaggi heavy), bags with black military badges on black leather that finally looked attractive (we skipped the first run of military badges), a new lineup of backpacks all with features that make sense, and more. One interesting development is the interchangeable straps for some of the bags. I tried changing a few straps on a bag and they really changed the look: great idea.

Without more photos I realize that this is just a teaser. But you don’t really want too many details since the collection won’t appear until August. However, please do get in contact with us as we are already accepting pre-orders.

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At Pitti Peroni Made Me Feel

This was the first time for us to go to Pitti. But we had seen plenty of reports showing men at the edge of fashion posing for pictures outside the medieval fortress (Fortezza da Basso) that hosts the event. It is really quite interesting to watch, because among the colorful coats, shoes, sunglasses, hats, and beards lie some true gems of style worth following. The rest is a reminder that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and that “de gustibus…” (old Latin saying meaning “of tastes…” you cannot comment).

Then, far more subdued, are scores of impeccably dressed men who appear to be tending to important business and can careless if they are photographed. They certainly made me feel like I could use a little extra style.

These were my thoughts when we got to the Peroni booth. We saw a much more sober display that was proud to show new prototypes to be introduced later this year. As we entered the booth we began to realize that the Peroni catalog can be had to fit almost any style: the color selection seems to cover the entire spectrum… And then wow! It was then that I fell in love with something new: hardened hide eyeglasses in blue and yellow.

I haven’t given them a name yet, but they will for sure become part of the Marcopoloni catalog. I tried them on and after a few adjustments they started fitting on my head and they stopped sliding down my nose. I absolutely loved them and I bought a pair (against all rules) because I had to have them right away. Now that I have a frame I will finally go to the optometrist

Now I am the only one at the show with THESE cool glasses. I wear them with the default glass that doesn’t help me read at all, and love it. I posted the picture on Instagram and Facebook and sat there admiring it while a few likes trickled in (I have a very small audience). I know. This does not sound like me, it is vain and narcissistic. But let me feel young with the confidence of the middle-aged man: it is a wonderful feeling.

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I Am Back, or at Least I Should Be

I have not blogged in a very long time. But, since I decided to seek a contract position as a software developer, I have been extremely focused on that and it involved a lot of preparation. After I got MongoDB Developer certification and after I completed my study of Node.js, I was ready to interview.

In Silicon Valley there is an over-abundance of programming jobs, and I was lucky to have a lot of opportunities. Ultimately, Cisco Systems turned out to be the best match and that is where I have been since the middle of August.

Cisco is on the other side of town and I am lucky to live close to the light rail that drops me off right in front of my Cisco building. So I have a solid 45 minutes each way to tend to business, whether it be personal, Marcopoloni, or Cisco. So today, after almost two months into my new routine, I decided to return to writing, hopefully on a more regular basis.

So life is a lot more hectic now and I don’t have as much direct contact with all the beautiful creations that we bring in. But Marcopoloni is also my essence (not just Emi’s) and I want to remain close to it.

You might be able to imagine that I have adorned my cubicle with Marcopoloni ware. As I go to work every day I always have an Antartidee desk clock on my desk, along with my Murano glass tumbler and my Kissa Koito pottery cappuccino cup. The computer goes in a Santarelli briefcase, I always use my Snaplink keychain, my Nicola, and a belt from either Dionigi or Campomaggi.
Today I am also wearing my Stupendo ankle boots and my Maledetti Toscani leather jacket. I am surrounded by Marcopoloni stuff and rightfully so: I love it. But when I get to work I stand out like a sore thumb. Not in a good or bad way: people have different interests, at least on the surface. There are people who love Italian wine, people who roast their own coffee, people who bike to work, and people who have their lunch delivered through Uber: all things that I am glad to share.

I am missing a decent wall hook. A hook that hangs from the cubicle partitions would make me very happy. I would use two: one for my bag and one for my coat. I will ask our friends at Antartidee because you never know, it might have a market.

There you have it. This is how I am rolling right now. I still keep in touch with my customers so feel free to drop me an e-mail!

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Two Antartidee Wall Clocks I Am Absolutely Crazy About

MESSPRESSO Spilled Espresso Wall Clock

MESSPRESSO Spilled Espresso Wall Clock

I probably LOVE everything that Antartidee makes so I had to be extremely clear in the title to explain that these two clocks are my all-time favorites, at least to this date.

Clocks Tell Time

Oh really? You might say. Well, yes, I had to point that out. I have had a need for wall clocks ever since I got kids… eight years ago. If you have kids I am sure that they naturally keep track of time and never make you late… but I wasn’t so lucky. Changing a diaper is a fifteen minute ordeal for me when Marco decides he is going to kick and scream the whole time (sidebar: they say he is no trouble at all changing diapers at daycare). Chiara, on the other hand often chooses that there is enough time for her to do what is going through her mind before focusing on the task at hand.

Not having a clock that you can just look up to consult is a weak predicament when dealing with kids. But kids are not the only thing that can make you lose track of time and I really, really enjoy my clocks. I have the MESSPRESSO both at home and at the office. The one at the office is in the showroom and I only consult it once or twice a day, but the one at home is in a strategic spot–near the bottom of the stairs–and I can check it while at the dinner table. I enjoy my time at the dinner table, but sometimes I spend too long there–I am Italian…

A Methodical Checklist

While at the dinner table I usually have to enjoy my week-end cappuccino with Emi and the kids, but the next step is to walk the dogs. If I hesitate too long then we start cutting into the next step in the routine and so on. That is why I installed the MESSPRESSO at home too. It is a match for my espresso making personality and it really, really helps me put the kids in bed at the right time. I basically check my MESSPRESSO strategically throughout the day and it has made a difference.

What Else Could They Pack In It?

As you can see, I am overly partial in favor of the MESSPRESSO, but it should be understandable. I love coffee and I love brewing espresso. I am Italian and love Italy and there is an Italian flag painted on the cup. I love the smell of coffee beans and there are four marking the hours on the plate. I am messy at times, and, well, this clock is a mess. Oh my! They designed it for me!! If there are any Italians in your life, I guarantee you this wall clock is going to be a hit–at the stroke of any hour.

Time Conservation

PERDITEMPO Waste of Time Clock

PERDITEMPO Waste of Time Clock


If you waste even a little bit of time, a little time-conservation will help. The PERDITEMPO allows you to close the dripping of time that results in so much waste. By freezing the time wasting in time you should see considerable benefits, except when you catch yourself staring at the beauty of this clock–all the time.

I have put it in our bathroom and all the cool guests who used the bathroom noticed the coolness of the clock. Some people didn’t comment because they probably were checking Facebook at the time. If they hadn’t they would have noticed it. It’s impossible not to love it. And with California in a drought we need a clock that can end it once and for all!

Do you like Antartidee clocks as much as I do? If the answer is “yes”, can you prove it in the comments?

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Campomaggi Spring Summer 2016

GALLO Reversible Canvas Tote Fuchsia

GALLO Reversible Canvas Tote Fuchsia

Another collection is here

The arrival of a new Campomaggi collection is one of the most exciting times at Marcopoloni and our customers also get really excited, which makes for a joyous busy time that helps us forget about tax season and think about spring–the actual season.

The seasons of fashion are similar to the seasons in California. The spring/summer season here in Campbell, CA begins with the end of the last rain, which could be just about now. This is the time when I like to plan my first dinner in the yard with friends and start thinking about going to the beach. Well, so I am finally in the mood to announce the new spring/summer 2016 collection by Campomaggi and, in a separate post, I will announce the Caterina Lucchi one.

There is a problem with this thinking though! I, just now, realize that our South-of-the-Equator customers get completely left behind by doing this… Ouch! We love you too, of course, and I will keep you in mind going forward. Luckily, Campomaggi bags are often unisex and “uniseason” and this collection has at least a couple of new bags that do not shy away from fall and winter.

The Streets of Milan

Marco turned 55 this year (as you know by doing the math on your Campomaggi bag) and opened his flagship store in Via della Spiga, 5 in Milan’s fashion district. I have said it before and gladly repeat it: this is a big deal. A man who decided to make bags the way he liked them has been able to rise to the stage along with the most famous brands in the world who make bags the way fashion trends dictacte. It will be interesting to see if the world of fashion will start moving away from the cookie-cutter styles we have been taught to consider fashionable and towards something more in tune with the fact that people are not made with a cookie-cutter.

Uniqueness Reigns

As I have always said, and just implied, Campomaggi bags exude uniqueness from every pore. This collection is no different. From reversible bags, to innovative evening styles, Marco is tickling our imagination again. As I walk around Valley Fair mall, the area mall with all the luxury brands, I get bored. I try to pick out the elements of fashion that the different brands contribute and I often either come up empty or have a few points that aren’t very bold. Instead, with Campomaggi, you get used to something bold. In fact, he is so bold that now that he is talking to a more general audience he has retracted wonderful inspirations such as aged leather. I, of course, loved things like aged leather and am waiting for the day when Marco starts a new “free of preconceived notions” brand that is brave.

True Artisanship

Despite having become a bit more mainstream, the elements of true artisanship are still very strong and evident in Marco’s new products. Besides the uniqueness that is instilled in all the products, he is still perfecting previous ideas, trying new ideas, and figuring out how to make things more usable.

I have always boasted how Campomaggi bags are a reflection of Marco’s soul. This spring they seem to reflect accomplishment and a desire to live life and to live it better, through a better bag: that’s Marco’s contribution to the world and, in my opinion, a very liberating one because he is able to mix what seems like unlimited creativity with a love for artisanship. In the Marcopoloni world, he is very admired.

Double Face

Growing up in Italy, when something was reversible my family used the French word “double-face” which in this case stood for double-sided. That is what I thought when I saw Campomaggi’s new reversible canvas bags. It’s a neat idea that makes you feel like you got two bags for the price of one and that when you spill your ice cream you can, at least temporarily, resort to the other side.

There is an interesting touch: the leather label that says “Campomaggi” can be popped out and moved to a location inside the bag, which means that, when you reverse it, it will be visible outside again.

GALLO Canvas Reversible Bag by Campomaggi

The GALLO Canvas Reversible Bag by Campomaggi.

A Little Asymmetry

I don’t think that Marco is embracing surrealism in his designs by any means. But he always tries to think past the tried and true to see if there are other, new ways to be stylish and/or functional. The Malfante Hobo, for example is not a revolutionary design. It has a couple of unique features but nothing Earth-shattering, except that the zipper is placed in a spot that makes it fairly easy to operate.

MALFANTE Hobo by Campomaggi

The MALFANTE hobo by Campomaggi has an inclined zipper that makes it easier to operate.

Summer Colors

If you are a Campomaggi veteran like me you know that to get summer colors in your bags you have to move away from the distressed, unbleached vacchetta leather that makes Campomaggi bags so delicious. Canvas is a perfect material for summer, travel, the beach, picnicking, and outdoor activities.
We now have colors that we never had before.

Most of the items in the new collection are, indeed, very summery. That didn’t use to be the case for Campomaggi. Before he started creating leather that would handle brighter colors we were pretty much limited to beautiful shades of dark brown and black.

A Summer Wallet

The Marino canvas wallet has immediately achieved status among Campomaggi wallets. It is the first canvas wallet and it probably is long overdue. Granted, the shape is the same as many Campomaggi wallets (tried and true) and the stamped logo is something that we have seen for over four years now. But, let me ask you something: would you rather take the Marino or a leather wallet to the beach?
If, like me, you answered the Marino, it means that you are ready to get out there and keep your favorite style close to you at all times, and not worry about a little water, too much sun, or a heap of sand. In a way, the Marino is the ultimate summer entry.

Finally, The Ultimate Bucket Bag

Bucket bags had been missing from the Campomaggi repertoire for many years. Then, came the ARIETI bucket bag by Campomaggi. Nowadays, you see many women carry a small bag on their hips, but until today you didn’t see a small Campomaggi bucket bag grace those figures. For those of us who had been waiting for a gorgeous, smaller bucket bag by Campomaggi with precious details… here it is.

PIAGGIA bucket by Campomaggi

The PIAGGIA Mini Bucket Bag with Evening Studs`.

The Real Finally

The new Campomaggi Spring Summer collection has arrived and it is one that satisfies. I had mentioned before a couple of uniseason bags for our friends down under. Here they are:

FIDELIS Shoulder Bag by Campomaggi

The Fidelis Small Shoulder Bag and its threaded accents.

FONTANAROSSA Mid=sized messenger bag by Campomaggi

The FONTANAROSSA mid-sized distressed leather messenger bag by Campomaggi.

If you are a fan of Campomaggi products, don’t forget to sign up for Emi’s great Campomaggi Report series. Also sign up to our general newsletter where you can find out about what else have we discovered that features awesome artisanship, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, to name a few :-).

Happy spring and if you have any questions, please ask away in the comments below!

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Third Time Is The Charm

Basic Focaccia

It turned out very well. It was perhaps a little insipid, but some salty olives made it wonderful!

Well, in my case I can not settle for this. From a point of view of getting something right, this was a successful attempt. It was edible and quite enjoyable… if you did not know how it might have tasted.

There Is Always Room for Improvement

I made this focaccia because we had our friends over. Our friends are my Guinea Pigs when it comes to my food-related experiments. They will tell me the truth and the truth did come out: good but a bit insipid (though it went perfectly with the salty olives they brought) and what’s up with the lack of toppings? Even last time I had a little sprinkle of onions, which was quite enjoyable.

The truth is that I forgot, which leads me to my next point.

Practice Should Make Perfect

In the rush of getting the focaccia in the oven and not missing any of the recipe’s steps, I forgot to add any toppings (which are not mentioned in my recipe). Though it sounds unbelievable that I forgot them where I hadn’t forgotten them in my two previous attempts, I think that the reason is that I don’t have the whole procedure engraved in my brain yet. More practice is required. If you ask me to make Spaghetti Alla Carbonara, I will do it right every time because I have been making it for so long. But when it comes to focaccia I am going to have to try a few more times.

Delicious and Natural

Now that I have produced an edible version of focaccia I feel that I can recommend that you try it at home too. It is not very difficult, and the actual working time is less than making pasta by far. The ingredients are very basic (flour, water, yeast, olive oil, salt, and a bit of white wine) and natural. Maybe some day I will make a whole wheat version of it, but I am not there yet.

From A Wonderful Corner of Italy

Focaccia exists in a thousand varieties in every corner of Italy. It is one of the best street foods that I grew up with and every region has its variants (in fact, every baker worth of the name probably has a favorite variant considering that the toppings can vary a lot). I am focusing on the traditional focaccia genovese, which originated in Genova around the XVI century. This article tells you where to try it if you are ever in Genova. Some of the pictures of the bakeries are really inviting! Who’s going to Italy with me?

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My Second Shot at Focaccia

Homemade Focaccia

My second attempt at making focaccia at home.

A Little Background

I did not mention this in my previous focaccia post: I really love focaccia because the bakery in the street where I lived in Milan made excellent focaccia and I spent a few summers as a young boy in Liguria, the region where focaccia originated, and I can still taste how good that focaccia was. This is why I am so determined to have awesome focaccia again. It used to be that anywhere you went in Italy would serve decent focaccia. That is no longer the case: even in Liguria, I have walked into bakeries that did not serve good focaccia. Like with all good things, I think that it should be preserved and I am trying to teach my kids how to make it (we’ll see if I am successful in a few years.)

Determination

I don’t want to call myself an artisan, because that is such an honorific (not horrific) title that only accomplished craftsmen deserve. But artisanship requires determination as you are most likely to fail at first. As you well know, I failed miserably on my first attempt that after a couple of weeks I decided to try again. I re-read the recipe, I compared it with my notes from my first attempt and decided to learn from experience this time. The dough turned out better (I kneaded it for longer), it was properly salted, I did use a higher temperature, and, most importantly, I did pour a string of olive oil on top of the dough before it went into the oven.

New Mistakes Or Learning Lessons

Unfortunately, I fell prey of a horrific habit of mine: when I like an ingredient I use too much of it. Because salt was very lacking during my previous attempt, not only did I increase the amount of salt that went into the dough, but I got a little happy sprinkling the sale grosso (large salt) on top of the dough spread out in the pan. The result was so salty that it was inedible. After scraping some of the salt I really enjoyed it but it was still too salty because it wasn’t possible to remove enough salt. Too bad! I had the top salt measured correctly the first time… Couldn’t I do the same thing?

Another thing that wasn’t ideal was the oven temperature. I used 420 Fahrenheit this time and tested it a little too soon. The crust was hard and the dough wasn’t fully cooked when I first cut it so I had to put it back.

What Will I Do Differently Next Time

It’s pretty obvious that next time I will use less large salt and will try to go back to 395 degrees for a little longer than 20 minutes. If that works I might be celebrating and you will hear about it 🙂

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My First Focaccia Attempt

My first attempt at focaccia was far from a success.

My first attempt at focaccia was far from a success.

It Begins with A Passion

I am constantly trying to expand my Italian cooking horizon. When I try something new I usually fail and this time was no different. My lifelong passion for artisanally made products manifests itself at home with my desire to master Italian cooking. In particular, I love handmade pasta. But before I can deliver delicious creations I have to learn how to make them right, something that takes time and dedication.

Likewise, our very accomplished artisans, go through a similar cycle. A lot of sweat, blood, and tears accompany the introduction of a new product. And the first run sometimes is not the best and later variants surpass it in some way. That is the inevitable value of experience, and, when you think that Imperio Rossi has dedicated more than 50 years to making Murano glass, you realize that experience and dedication mean a lot.

Failure Is Simply Part of The Learning Process

Now, my focaccia was edible, but it was light years away from tasting like the focaccia I enjoyed growing up in Italy. I realized some mistakes and there are some changes I would consider next time. My mistakes were that I didn’t sprinkle the focaccia with a drizzle of oil before putting it in the oven, that I didn’t put enough salt in the dough itself, that I baked it for too long. Next time I am going to make a smaller batch so that I have less to eat in case it doesn’t turn out well. I am also going to knead it for longer after the dough has risen, and I might use a bit higher oven temperature. With these changes alone I expect a better result next time, but whether or not that is enough to make the perfect focaccia remains to be seen.

I have seen my artisans fail in the process of creating the perfect product. Some of the early Campomaggi wallets, for example, had a little too much character built in with credit card slots that were too tight for credit cards or shapes that were pretty far from rectangular. I have seen him make leather jackets that were absolutely awesome, but totally uncomfortable. We now have great wallets by Campomaggi, and I bet that some day we will have totally awesome leather jackets as well. Failure is simply part of the learning process.

Erase The Memory of Failure

What erases the memory of failure is trying again and again and finally getting it right. I am not going to give up on focaccia. Just like with my Tortellini Mantovani, I will eventually get it right.

And when I do get it right, it is going to be so awesome! And that awesomeness is my passion.

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