Preserving the Way of the Artisan

I listened to this segment on Marketplace and was rather surprised. I did not know that I could be so ignorant about the issue that has inspired my business: preserving the way of the artisan.

Jeff Tyler finds out how even artisans from Zambia suffer from the competition of cheaper products coming out of China and Vietnam. The story is surprising to me because I thought that wages in Zambia were very low, and to think that one can make a basket and ship it to Zambia for less than the local artisan seems hard to believe.

Do China and Vietnam have robotic plants making baskets? As far as I know their factories are very labor intensive. So exactly how much, or how little, do they pay their workers? Is it possible that workers in the world’s second economy earn less than the workers in Zambia?

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The New Campomaggi iPhone Case Visits the Apple Campus

When our friend Alex invited us to have lunch on the Apple campus, I immediately recognized that this was a perfect opportunity to introduce two great brands to each other. So I packed my FRECCIA iPad bag with the new VALENTINO iPad Case and the new iPhone Case, both by Campomaggi.

After we got our badges and walked into the main hall I was surprised that we didn’t run into any iPhones and iPads running around. Instead we got to admire multiple Grammys and an Oscar.

When we got to the cafeteria we (cases included) got very excited to find many other authentic Italian expatriates proudly displayed. So we ordered a pizza with mozzarella di bufala and loved it.

Before we left we saw the Apple store and decided to go take a look. Wow! iPhones and iPads! We finally got to make an introduction and made sure to stay clear of the isle where all the cases were on display.

As we were driving back to the office everyone was happy, including me, despite the fact that I was not able to get a statement from Tim Cook saying that the new Campomaggi cases are the only cases worthy of the coolness of Apple products. It was enough to know that that was exactly what he would have said.

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My ALDO Leather Belt After Two Years

When I decided to import the ALDO Italian leather belt by Vincenzo I was very excited because I had found a design that was very sharp and professional while stylish and somewhat unique. I really like how the two stitched lines make it a little more casual than your regular leather belt.

When the belt arrived I proudly named it after my grandfather and bought one in espresso. Espresso turned out to be a color that I can wear both with jeans and with khakis. The problem was that when I wore black shoes I had to resort to using my old black belt, which must have been a cheap one as it was peeling and coloring my pants. The solution was to get a black version of the ALDO. I love that belt too, although when I wear jeans with black shoes I now wish I also had a more casual, perhaps more rugged-looking black belt. Despite this the black ALDO does a great job with jeans too.

Overall I probably own about 10 belts. Out of my older belts, I only still wear one because it is very casual, it is a lighter brown color than my ALDO in espresso, and better matches my more summery shoes. The rest should just get tossed because they are sitting there in the closet without ever getting used: they simply don’t compare. I wish I could only own belts as nice as the ALDO: some day I will get there.

Today I decided it was time to apply some lotion. With this particular type of leather, Antonio Dionigi recommended using a mild hand lotion or a milk-based detergent of the kind used to remove makeup. We got some Nivea creme for that purpose and it seems to work just fine. As I applied it the belt absorbed quickly and I had to be careful not to apply too much. After the lotion on the belt dried, the belt might not have looked new but it looked better and those few scratches that were noticeable are now gone. The inside of the belt remarkably looks like new and I am particularly happy about that because of my bad experience with cheaper belts described above.

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Taking the Campani Campomaggi Logo Tote Bag for a Test Drive: the Beginning

While I was test driving the DANIELE distressed leather belt pouch by Campomaggi, we began to also test drive another bag: the CAMPANI Campomaggi Logo Canvas Tote. Unlike the DANIELE, which I wore on a daily basis, the CAMPANI is going to be used on week-ends and evenings because during the week I have my COLOMBO vertical messenger bag which is a better fit for transporting my tablet, my journal, and those few other things that I need to bring back and forth between home and the office.

Before we started the test drive we had to actually choose which color CAMPANI to buy. As you can see at the end of the video that documents the decision, this is our bag, not a bag that we are just test driving to let you know what we think of it and then sell it at a discounted/used price. The idea of selling “test-driven” bags is one of many ideas that cross my mind, yet have no support inside the executive management circle, nor within the technical capabilities of our web site.

I hope you enjoy this video and that it will help you choose your color. Of course it would have helped if we hadn’t already narrowed down the field from 5 to 3 colors. So if you need more information about the other colors, please do not hesitate to contact me!

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My Belt-loop Leather Pouch: After Three Weeks

After three weeks of daily use, I feel as if the final verdict on the DANIELE leather belt loop pouch by Campomaggi can be reached. But before I get to that, let me share my latest impressions.

The belt loop is assuming the shape of my waist: perhaps it wants to convince me to keep it because it is a good fit, which it is. Another thing that I have come to realize is that letting the pouch hang below the waist means that the pouch can rest at whatever angle it needs to rest. For example, when you are sitting down the pouch can rest on your leg at a 90-degree angle if that’s what it needs to do. If it was positioned right on the belt I think that it would struggle to find a resting position.

Once you wear the pouch you quickly forget about it and using it becomes second nature. Opening and closing the closure is fun for me as I find myself unnecessarily playing with it. The beauty of this product is that you are almost guaranteed not to leave it, and its contents, behind. As I say this, I have to admit that one day I left home without the phone in the pouch and I had to go back and get it. So the DANIELE is not the end-all solution to an absented minded person’s woes.

I realize that I haven’t covered wearing the pouch cross-body very much. Perhaps there is a loyal customer out there who would like to test-drive the pouch with that purpose in mind. If so, please make sure to ask.

And now my verdict: get the distressed leather belt-loop pouch for yourself, not as a gift, as wearing a belt pouch requires fulfilling a specific need. I really love the convenience and everything that a Campomaggi product embodies: I feel very proud wearing it and love to have to come in frequent contact with it. The ease with which I can access my wallet and phone is great. Finally, I love that it keeps the phone away from my body: perhaps mobile phones don’t harm you when they stay in contact with your body for a prolonged period, but I’d rather be safe.

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Review of the DANIELE Campomaggi Belt-Loop Leather Pouch

After two weeks of test driving, I have grown very comfortable with my new Campomaggi belt-loop leather pouch. I like it because it is compact, it does exactly what I need and I love its look and feel. I hope that this video can help you make a decision as to whether the DANIELE might be for you.

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Campomaggi

Last time I saw Marco I got to spend a lot of time talking about him, his family, and his inspiration. He was happy to let me record an interview with him in which we discussed a new leather type he created for his Fall/Winter collection.

Besides giving a preview of what’s to come and how Mr. Campomaggi got his inspiration for one of his new collections, the interview reveals a lot about the motives behind the Campomaggi brand and the beliefs that shape it.

First, as it states on the tag, Campomaggi believes that time does not take away, but adds to, character. That’s why so many Campomaggi products are designed to look distressed or aged from the onset. And that’s also why the vast majority of Campomaggi bags and accessories use full grain leather, which ages well and lasts longer.

But why is time so important? Because memories and the emotion of time passing by is something that Campomaggi is trying to capture. I think that if a bag is able to remind you of your childhood, for example, then the bag’s highest ambition has been accomplished.

There were two moments in the interview that are particularly dear to me because they show why Campomaggi embodies so well the role of the ideal Marcopoloni artisan. First, he says that he is trying “to instill a soul inside a material.” This is something that we feel and that our customers frequently report back to us. Second, he thanks his customer for the feedback which is what keeps him going. That was a rare moment in which I got to experience customers and artisans closer together–something that is part of our mission at Marcopoloni.

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One Month with My Murano Glass Sbruffo Tumbler

I work next to a lot of beautiful things. Among the most elevating of these are the Murano glass creations by Maestro Imperio Rossi. One of the styles that I find most fascinating due to its texture and appearance is the Sbruffo style. Last time we placed a Murano glass order, Emi and I made sure to add our favorite Sbruffo tumblers in the mix.

When we first received them I was so thrilled I was giddy. Since I have always admired Murano glass and this was my first piece, finally owning one was a momentous occasion. I had already handled many Sbruffo tumblers so the pleasurable tactile experience derived from sliding your fingers along the grooves of brushed glass was not new. Yet, this was mine now and my fingers are still learning all the different possible ways I can grip the glass.

After a month of ownership I feel that I am beginning to get to know it. My tumbler is a little bit irregular as the rim is slightly slanted. It has a drop of blue glass towards the top that has separate from the blue stripe. As I take a drink, I can feel with my pinkie finger what I call the umbilical button at the bottom (the glass was attached to the cane until ready to go in the cooling oven).

The Goto Sbruffo has so far provided a wonderful experience. It is very luxurious and upgrades the appearance of my desk at work. Since my eyes fall on it so much, it really helps me to drink more water throughout the day. I did not expect it to be so good for me.

GOTO SBRUFFO Murano Glass Tumbler on Daniele's Desk

Read my history of Murano glass

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Campomaggi leather pouch: after 1 week

I have wanted a Campomaggi leather pouch to carry my wallet and phone for a long time and now I am test driving it. In my previous post I began discovering what it is really like to use the pouch.

Over the last few days I noticed that you have to get used to being just slightly wider when you are carrying the leather pouch on your belt. I scraped a wall with it a couple of times and inadvertently bumped it against the kitchen counter and the open microwave door. This was no big deal for me, but your situation may be different.

So what if you have to unzip your pants? If you wear the pouch on the right there is a chance that it will fall out–if you are not careful. If you wear it on the left side it will still pull a bit on the belt, making things somewhat more complicated.

Campomaggi leather pouch open.

The other thing I did was to ask the forum Male Fashion Advice (MFA) on Reddit what they thought about the pouch. The answer was a resounding “MFA doesn’t like belt appendages.” Yet there were a couple of people who seemed to secretly like it. I took the blanket statement with a grain of salt, yet it made me realize why we advocate to “take it slow”: it is often through prolonged observation that you can notice the qualities of many of our products. I do concede that walking around with an albeit tiny utility belt expands the waist line and makes it hard to look sharp.

After a week I love the Campomaggi leather pouch. The main reasons are: I love the look and feel of the leather, I love opening and closing the flap, my wallet and phone fit perfectly, I can run as much as I want and it will not bounce around wildly like a bag will, I don’t leave my wallet and phone on my desk any more, and it is nice to know where to reach for your phone and to be able to do it quickly.

On the other hand, I would be careful not to give this as a gift without doing some definitive research first. After seeing the feedback from Reddit, I think that most men would look at this and prefer not to use it. I had a specific reason to want this, it solves my problem, I think it looks good, and I expect that I will keep it. But the test drive is not over yet. Let’s see what another week’s use does to my opinion.

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The Campomaggi Belt-Loop Distressed Leather Pouch: Days 2-4.

On day 2 with my Campomaggi leather pouch the big test came: Chiara’s soccer practice. I wore a pair of shorts, my ALDO leather belt, and a t-shirt. The t-shirt came to rest on pouch which remained visible. I tried covering the pouch with the t-shirt but it looked bad.

Campomaggi belt loop pouch

The phone, because it is such a tight fit, takes a while to get out, while putting it in is easy. I felt pretty comfortable, both in terms of looks and weight. It is possible to forget that you have a pouch hanging from your belt.

Also on day 2, I went to the grocery store, to Chiara’s dance recital, to the mall, and to a Barbeque. At the grocery store getting the wallet out and putting it back in was easy and rather convenient. I had to reach for my phone to take a few pictures at the barbeque and it is nice not to have to search for the pocket where I last put the phone. Also, I like that the phone is not in direct contact with my body any more. I did not get any comments all day, which is good.

On day 3, as I was driving, I realized that if I wear the pouch on the right, I have to sit further to the left to let the seat belt latch. I did not like that too much so I decided to test putting the pouch on the left. Doing that means that once the pouch is strapped, to remove it you have to remove your belt. There are no clips to make that process fast and I would not change that.

On day 4, at the office I wore the pouch on the left. I think that I like it on the left better because it allows me to sit like I normally do in the car. Since I normally take my wallet and phone out of my pockets and set them on my desk, it was nice to have the phone with me while I make progress on our quality control of the latest Campomaggi shipment.

I am getting used to my pouch. I like the closure and how it is starting to soften, making it easier to latch closed.

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