I Love My New Italian Leather Sneakers

Was I excited about receiving our first shipment of shoes on Thursday? You bet, especially since I was going to make at least one pair mine. I was also really hoping not to become disappointed as my expectations were getting to be extremely high.

That definitely did not happen this time. Although my TOSTA silver sneakers did not quite look like the shoes I had seen in the pictures provided by Maledetti Toscani, their quality simply blew me away.

TOSTA Italian Leather Sneakers Marcopoloni Man

The TOSTA Italian Leather Silver Sneakers are definitely Marcopoloni Man approved.

The first time I wore them they felt pretty tight and I noticed that the strings would lose some of the silver when I tightened them. They also felt stiff here and there. Luckily, my worry that they wouldn’t break in soon dissipated though. After a few days they loosened up a lot and they only felt stiff against my toes when I bent them as much as possible. I will confirm that this has gone away in a future post, for now let me tell you what my first impression has been.

The shoes go great with the dark blue jeans and with the distressed gray jeans I have. I actually bought the gray ones hoping that they would pair well with the sneakers. I couldn’t be more pleased. Not only do they look great, they also feel great. When I am not wearing them my feet long for the next time I will put them on. There is a love affair going on, one that I expect to last a very long time.

Our Maledetti Toscani Shoes Are Almost Here

TOSTA Distressed Leather Silver Sneakers

I have been waiting for these sneakers for months but tomorrow they should finally be here!

There are very few things that can make me mad: Italian customs is one of them. It is an institution that cannot be explained in terms of logic and that often drives Italian entrepreneurs to leave the country. When a few years ago they intercepted a bag that I was trying to return to Dionigi and wouldn’t let it go unless I paid Italian duties three months later, I felt that I was dealing with what is to be expected. I was mad, don’t get me wrong, but I wasn’t surprised.

This time they sequestered our shipment of shoes going out of Italy and made sure that it was returned to sender. To this day we do not know the reason. The only thing that was missing with the shipment was the English translation of the commercial invoice for US Customs, which was promptly provided and which had been accepted by US Customs who cleared the shipment. Yet, somehow, the shipment could not leave and had to be returned to sender. No explanation was provided and no effort was made to help us solve the problem.

Our decision to expand our offering to shoes was influenced by how quickly we fell in love with Maledetti Toscani shoes. We are extremely excited about receiving them and the delay has been so painful, especially for me: I have picked out a pair of sneakers that I can see on my feet every day as I go to work. Now the second shipment also sat in Italian customs for four days and I had to have Maledetti Toscani contact Fedex and customs to get it moving (again, apparently everything was in order). Finally, tonight, the tracking log shows that the shipment has reached Memphis! What a relief!!! Tomorrow might be the day… I might get to walk home on a new pair of shoes!

I really hope that these shoes are worth the effort. What if I am disappointed? I cannot even consider that possibility right now. I wish I could be a fly on the wall in Memphis.

Look Who’s New at Marcopoloni…

I’m thrilled to join Marcopoloni as the newest member of the team. Coming to the office every day means I have the chance to appreciate beautiful handmade artisan treasures, from rustic leather Campomaggi bags to delicate Murano glass figurines. But what really stands out at Marcopoloni is the care and attention that goes into the process of bringing these artisan-crafted goods to you, the customer.

It may seem crazy to take a half hour to photograph each of the four slightly different Salvi leather briefcases we have in stock – because there are variations in color and texture in vegetable-tanned, full grain leather – then upload and e-mail those pictures so a customer can choose the exact bag he wants to order.

It happens a lot around here, though, and it’s one of the reasons Marcopoloni is known for great customer service.

I think of Marcopoloni as a “mom and pop” shop of the Internet, run by a husband-and-wife team with a real passion for handmade artisan products. Since we’re not a bricks-and-mortar store (although there is a small showroom in the office that fills the place with the elegant scent of Italian leather) we can’t greet you by name when you walk in the door.  Instead we get to know you by answering your questions via phone and e-mail, and always following up to make sure you are completely happy with your purchase.

I share in your appreciation of handmade art. I grew up in Cambria, Calif., surrounded by creative people including my parents who made stained glass, batik art and ceramics. My husband is a woodworker who makes custom skateboards in our garage woodshop. Our home is filled with art made by family and friends.

While Daniele and Emi are in Italy this summer visiting local artisans and hand-picking new creations for Marcopoloni, I will be here in the office making sure things run smoothly. I look forward to hearing from you!

MaryHeadshot

Marcopoloni is pleased to add Mary Berger to the team.

Campomaggi Bags Are One-Of-A-Kind

If you are a long-time fan of Campomaggi bags, or simply bought enough of them, you know very well that each Campomaggi bag is unique in more ways than one. This is particularly true for the distressed leather bags which absorb the dye differently, shrink differently, and sometimes even stretches differently. This, on top of the use of full grain Italian vacchetta leather, which in and of itself shows its character differently every time, ensures that each bag is very different from the next.

We realized this right away and immediately offered to our customers pictures of what was available. Last year we made the decision that Campomaggi bags should be sold as one-of-a-kind and that customers should be able to see exactly what they will be getting before they buy.

This immediately created a ton of work for us at a time when, with the birth of our son Marco, our productive time has shrunk. Yet, we think that this is the right way to do it and you will notice that more and more bags will show you exactly what is available. We often do this in response to a customer request. For example, yesterday someone wanted to buy the VALLA in Distressed Olive Brown. We had four in stock and they were all pretty different. Perfect! We took pictures of the front and back and posted them on our web site. Our customer chose hers and now there are three left for other people to pick.

Let me show you what I mean:

First Valla

Second Valla

Fourth Valla

Caterina Lucchi Is Ready for Summer!

We received our Caterina Lucchi picks for the 2014 summer and they are even more delightful than we ever imagined. We had seen them a few months back, but actually holding them and admiring the colors that we chose is a wonderful feeling.

The first bags that we added to the web site are the PETALINI, the ONDA, and the new version of the BALLETTO, the BALLETTO BIS in buffalo leather.

ONDA Sequined Canvas And Leather Handbag brown

ONDA Sequined Canvas And Leather Handbag brown by Caterina Lucchi on Marcopoloni

PETALINI Laser Cut Canvas Leather Handbag Cloud

PETALINI Laser Cut Canvas Handbag by Caterina Lucchi

BALLETTO BIS Red Buffalo Leather Caterina Lucchi Tote

BALLETTO BIS Red Buffalo Leather Caterina Lucchi Tote

With these three bags along with the rest of the Caterina Lucchi and Campomaggi collections our showroom is in full bloom. Just like in a garden, some flowers will last longer than others while some will leave for their new homes rather quickly. When we get to know the customers who buy the bags we feel like we are still in touch (it’s like a kid off to college), so please do not hesitate to ask questions, you are really just helping us know where our beloved bags will go.

You Guys Are Still The Best Customer Service

Today I got an e-mail that said: “you guys are still the best… customer service, literally like calling a friend and then of course you sell the most awesome bags!”–I couldn’t ask for a better e-mail to start my Friday. It embodies exactly what we are trying to do: treat everyone like we would treat the people that are important in our lives because our customers are important in our lives. And the other part, “the most awesome bags” is a tribute to the artisans that we seek to support. They do really amazing work.

Emi and I try to focus our efforts on customer service a lot. We try to do it because we think that customer service is the most important business function. This is where we get to know customers and develop long term relationships. Although customer service means dealing with all the headaches, if we weren’t the ones dealing with them how would we ever find out about the pain and joys that our customers experience?

So here is a little bit about one of the people who started Marcopoloni and, ten years later, is here to address your needs. I, Daniele, love computer programming, but dealing with problems that don’t have very easy solutions has really helped me think outside the box. Here is a photo of me trying to market products without a marketing budget:

Daniele and a Santarelli Leather Briefcase

This shot was taken in January. It is Daniele and a Santarelli that he likes so much.

Can you recognize the bag? Since we now show every Santarelli leather briefcase that we have in stock, if you can identify the exact bag that I am holding I will give you a big discount on that very bag. That’s if it is still available, of course.

Maledetti Toscani Women’s Shoes

I just recently published a post about our intention to carry Maledetti Toscani shoes and we have already received our first inquiry for Maledetti Toscani Women’s Shoes, with a focus on boots. There is a number of boots included in the Fall Winter 2014 Collection but we can’t get them all: I so wish money were no object!

Our first inquiry resulted in the customer expressing interest in a most classic pair of boots: the model 6903. We are not planning on buying this for this summer, but we will probably have it for the fall.

Maledetti Toscani Boots 6903

Maledetti Toscani makes a number of boots and model 6903 is a knee-high boot that stands out.

The Maledetti Toscani Boots labeled with product code 6903 are very classic but stand out thanks to the uniquely high quality leather and somewhat rugged personality. The result is one cool pair of boots. If you like them let us know as we can pre-order them for you. We need to know your size and color preferences (assuming that we will offer a choice of colors) and that you are willing to pay a non-refundable deposit.

Preparing Our First Maledetti Toscani Order

Last year Dionigi began working with Maledetti Toscani and introduced us to a wonderful new company. Maledetti Toscani seems to be a perfect find for us: first, they believe in authentic artisanal production, truly 100% handmade in Italy. They even gave us a presentation showing us how companies can profit by outsourcing production to China and India, and then followed up with a video of the working conditions there and a pledge that that’s not what they’re about. Second, their products are very high quality and inspiring; they also fill a void in our lineup. And, third, they make amazing-looking shoes that are very appealing to us and to many of our customers.

The Model 8571 by Maledetti Toscani

Among the many impressive Maledetti Toscani shoes the 8571 stands out.

Over the last few weeks we have been examining the Maledetti Toscani catalog with a fine tooth comb. Unfortunately, we got excited about too many products and we cannot afford them all. So we have decided to focus on a small subset of their kids, women, and men’s shoes. I do confess that the shoes that we want for ourselves and for our kids this summer made it to the top of the list and we expanded the order from there. We weren’t entirely selfish and had to sacrifice a lot of shoes that we wanted with the words: “we can get those for fall.”

The Maledetti Toscani leather shoes are, in our opinion, the perfect mix of superb leather and of design for the way people live today. They seem to be a wonderful complement for the clothes we aspire to buy and for the overall style that we seek. They go great with Campomaggi bags, we are sure, and they go even better with Maledetti Toscani bags, which we plan on buying later this year.

A New Campomaggi Collection Is Arriving

The Spring/Summer 2014 collection has shipped from Campomaggi this week and we should receive it early next week, just in time for spring to arrive, which seems a more appropriate time to introduce a spring collection than, say, December.

As always, we think that we have focused on the good stuff–bags and accessories that we will be happy to stock for years. If you are a fan, prepare to have access to some wonderful Campomaggi bags with the Marcopoloni service attached. If what I just said means nothing to you, then you might be missing out on an experience. We believe that you cannot sell one-of-a-kind bags as if they were manufactured products that sit in boxes on a shelf.

So we are gearing up to present each individual bag so that you can choose the ones that you like best. This is a lot of work but it stimulates a discussion with our customers that ultimately results in our customers feeling more special and liking their bags even more.

Wow! I got my work cut out and so does Emi… Better get to work!

The Latest Employment Report: Better Than Not Good

The November employment report is out, on its normal date, and it was slightly better than expected. With 203,000 jobs added it was hailed in a Bloomberg article as a strong report, a sign that the economy is picking up and that consumers are going to be able to spend more.

In my opinion, we can’t treat 200,000 jobs added as the new 300,000 benchmark for a recovering economy. At most, I can say that we are stuck in traffic on the freeway but we just got to shift from second to third gear. It is a relief, that’s for sure, and perhaps a sign that it will clear up soon. As I try to look ahead I see another budget negotiation and I don’t trust the people who were stupid in October not to do something silly in January.

The good news is that the budget deficit is shrinking and it will continue to shrink if the economy improves. Eventually, the calls for austerity will begin to wane and the roadblocks will become fewer and farther between. I now hope that we will see 300,000 jobs added sometime in 2014. I have been waiting so long for that that I don’t even remember how it feels.