Kids Shoes Only Last A Few Months. Unless…

…they are made right.

As a parent, kids shoes drive me a bit crazy. On one hand, you don’t want to spend too much on shoes because you know that your child will quickly outgrow them, but you know that the cheap ones will start unraveling within a week, and doesn’t your child need something decent on her feet?
I have inspected the signs of wear and tear on Chiara’s shoes and for a while become convinced of torturous games going on at the playground. In my case, when Chiara was four she started coming home with sand and pebbles packed at the bottom of her shoes. I started envisioning a bully dragging her across the sandbox. Luckily one Saturday I got to watch her and her friends take their shoes off and fill them with sand.

But another question remained: why are the frontal parts of her shoes all scraped? Except for seeing her dragging her shoe-tops while riding her scooter, I have no idea how it happens. Whatever the dynamic, it is definitely one of her favorite activities, and most shoes give in like cheese through a grater.

In an effort to do better, a year-and-a-half ago we gave Chiara a pair of sneakers and a pair of sandals. I did expect for them to last longer, but I did not expect them to last this long. The sandals are practically new and I will probably hand them down to somebody who is interested. The sneakers are scraped in front but the leather is holding up and I don’t foresee a hole forming.

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Giudi Leather Wallets Are Selling Like Hot Cakes

CONTO Slim Italian Leather Wallet Brown

The CONTO Slim Italian Leather Wallet is selling like hot cakes. No wonder!

Giudi has figured out how to deliver stylish product that are in tune with the American consumer. And our American customers are responding.

It had been a long time since last time we had to beg one of our suppliers to anticipate a shipment by a month because we had run out of their products, in particular the Conto, which is literally selling like a hot cake.

We had seen a rising trend at the beginning of the year and had made our best efforts to keep the CONTO in stock. But starting in September, we began selling it far beyond our forecasts. Now we have practically run out but expect to get more by next week thanks to Giudi splitting our order and preparing what was hot first. The first question that comes to mind is: is this success going to continue?

Obviously it is impossible to tell what the future will bring, but the CONTO has “le carte in regola” which means something like “it has its ducks in a row” although, literally translated, it means that it has its paperwork properly filled out–revealing the bureaucratic lifestyle that still dominates Italian work life. First of all it is well designed for the American market where guys prefer a small wallet that can fit in the front pocket. The CONTO does that, even though there are some who feel that it is still too big. You can’t please everyone, but the CONTO obviously pleases the majority. The majority also has lots of credit cards and does not want a coin compartment (which makes things bulge by default.) The CONTO delivers very well on this count. Finally, the leather. Although thinner than Dionigi or Campomaggi wallets, it is still high quality Italian leather and it lasts a long time. Plus thinner leather means a thinner wallet with more card slots.

Finally the price. It currently sell for $56, which is a tight margin for us but we want to try to keep volumes high. The stronger dollar has helped us keep the price down. Let’s hope it continues!

Please let me know what you think about the CONTO. If you want to stay up to date on Marcopoloni developments, please also sign up to our newsletter. We only send out up to six every year.



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New Dionigi Bags Guaranteed To Impress You

That is unless you read this blog post and when the bags arrive you already know what to expect. 🙂

image

The new style of Dionigi wallets introduced in 2015. Pretty attractive if you ask me.

The key is in the new leather that Dionigi is using. After gaining invaluable experience delivering washed and distressed leather bags last year, this year Dionigi has focused on a slightly-distressed, fading-tonality style of leather that continues the tradition of using high quality full grain leather but adds a warmth to the delivered product that is very appealing.

That is not the only change that you will notice in Dionigi. They seem to have answered our questions about their interiors. Now suede leather in a bright orange color makes the interiors really easy to navigate and feel very good. This, in my book, is another big improvement that kicks the entire line up a notch. The other welcome improvement is the use of a wide cotton strap with a padded shoulder pad that feels very good. I prefer this strap to a Campomaggi leather strap for comfort reasons. I have taken one for my Santarelli and love it.

NEW Dionigi Cotton Strap Leather Shoulder Pad

The new Dionigi Cotton Strap with leather shoulder pad deserves to be sold separately. I put it on my Santarelli and love it.

Dionigi Bags have never been cheap, but now the price/quality ratio feels to heavily favor the consumer, something that I hope will spell the success of these products for years and will keep some of my favorite artisans happily busy.

The Dionigi products are now marketed under the Art and Job brand name created by Salvatore. They are a bit more mainstream than Campomaggi bags but have found a niche that stands out from old school leather products.

I am looking forward to announcing the arrival of their new products in our December newsletter. They will not arrive sooner because they are also quite busy: hopefully another sign that something good is happening. Stay tuned and sign up to our newsletter using the form below.



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Amazing Details Will Surprise You

Watching artisans work is very impressive. But the discoveries begin once you have their creation in your possession for a while.

It usually happens at an unexpected time: something catches your attention and you investigate it. The last time it happened to me was when we had pulled out the Still Wet wall clock to take better pictures of it just a few days ago. After we took the pictures we set the clock down and moved on to something else. The next day, I stopped to look at the tag to make sure that it was made of resin like the rest of the clock and that it was not a strip of leather attached to the clock.

As I looked closely at the tag I noticed that the small cloth label (again, it looks like cloth but it is resin) to the side of the pocket has individually painted threads holding it in place that are beginning to show signs of wear and tear.

Details!

If the devil is in the details, we sell a lot of devil.

As I look at the picture of that detail right now, I ask: “am I looking at a pair of jeans? Or am I looking at something that looks like a pair of jeans?” I am very impressed with this clock, I have to admit it. I think it will end up at home somewhere near our laundry room.

Antartidee is not the only artisan that impresses me. This happens to me just about every time I let a product sit by me long enough. Some of the other most memorable moments that I have had and quickly come to mind include: inadvertently touching my Campomaggi bag and think that the leather is so alive; gazing into a piece of Paua jewelry a see the blue fade in and out; grabbing my Murano glass tumbler; watching Marco rejoice when I played our music boxes; and many more. The quality of exceptional handmade products keeps on giving over time. It is simply a pleasure.

Is there a Marcopoloni product that gives you joy? I, of course, would like to know. Also, if you are not signed up already, do so to find out more about our surprising details.



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Unforgettable Toy Music Boxes: Listen To The Songs Available

I recently talked about how our music boxes stir up your past but at the time we did not have the songs available for you to listen. When we sent out our latest newsletter we introduced our new artisan, Sabatino e Catia, and we made sure to record all the songs that accompany our music boxes so far.

Rotating ceramic music box

A very cute rotating ceramic music box with a boy piloting a race car.

Below I have grouped the music boxes by song so that you can see, as of the date of this post, all the music boxes available that play each song. Follow the links provided to listen to the song.

It’s a Small World

Ninna Nanna/Lullaby (Brahms)

O Sole Mio

  • FARO (temporarily sold out)
  • ISOLA (temporarily sold out)

Magic Flute/Flauto Magico

Can Can

Vie en Rose

Walzer dei Fiori

Bach Minuetto

Lover’s Concerto – Bach (Minuetto)

Biancaneve Hehoo

Funiculi` Funicula`

Unfortunately we did not record “O Sole Mio” before we sold out of the products, but we will make sure to record it at the next opportunity. I am also sure that we will get more music boxes as time goes by. If you are interested in our music boxes make sure to stay up-to-date by signing up for our newsletter below.



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Happy 12th Birthday Marcopoloni!

Another year has passed and it is fun to think about how much things have changed. A year ago Marco was still coming to the office three days a week, we hadn’t begun redesigning our Web site, and we hadn’t yet conceived our Campomaggi report that is so fun to read.

Now our home page begins to tell our story and that of our artisans, we communicate with our customers about the developments that interest them the most, and we are making progress on some significant projects. At present, we are transitioning our accounting system to QuickBooks Online and are integrating it with our website through their API.

Streamlining our accounting processes is expected to free up time that we can devote to our artisans–something that is sorely needed. In the last twelve months, in fact, we have added three artisans, but could not devote enough time to tell you all about them. I wonder if anyone out there could even name all three of them. That is one of the things I hope to be able to change this year.

Over the next twelve months there are lots of things that I want to do. I want to figure out ways to make the excellence of our artisans more palpable. To achieve that I plan on sharing more pages that include videos of our artisans and their products. I want to also show bigger pictures and answer more questions. Behind the scenes I will develop systems for better serving you. The list of ideas is so long that it almost feels daunting. But we know that by chipping away at these lists things actually improve and that is what you should expect.

Finally, we plan on being as responsive to you as ever and encourage you to contact us. Also, to stay up to date with our progress, sign up to our newsletter. We only send out up to 6 every year and do not sell e-mail addresses.



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The New Campomaggi Fall/Winter 2015 Collection – Part 1

I have to hand it to Marco. Getting a new collection to explore every six months is very exciting and stimulating. Talking to our customers, you are also very excited about the new arrivals. What we have found over the years is that our initial impressions favor bags and accessories that our customers are only going to discover later on–meaning that we tend to pick the wrong products. There are exceptions of course. Sometimes we bet on a bag and it proves popular: so popular, in fact, that we quickly run out and then have to scramble to reorder.

While we will continue to refine our forecasting skills forever, this fall Campomaggi’s new products have been met with considerable success. The most popular and most awaited products have been the new leather or canvas backpacks, which have greatly expanded our offering. Before this season, we had the Zavatti, the Perotto and little else. They were nice options but the new bags show that they try to improve on many little details.

DE AGOSTINI Camo Leather Asymmetrical Backpack

One of The New Campomaggi Leather Backpack for Fall 2015.

The new backpacks are either in leather, or canvas, or both (canvas with big leather pockets). Each model seems to answer at least a specific question. If you need a spacious backpack: there is one that is really spacious; if you are looking for more comfortable straps: multiple bags have very wide straps that are less likely to cut into your shoulders after a while; if you are looking for more pockets where to quickly store stuff: he has you covered. One of my favorite features is the zippered pocket that fills toward the back and is accessible from the side (see the Verrazano).

VOLTA Distressed Canvas backpack with lots of pockets.

VOLTA Distressed Canvas backpack with lots of pockets and padded, large straps.

In our recent newsletter, we offered $75 off orders of $500 or more (offer code: MP500). The offer expires this week, so hurry!



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A Stronger Dollar Means Lower Prices from Japan

In yesterday’s newsletter Emi announced: “Thanks to the sustained, favorable Dollar-to-Yen exchange rates, we were able to lower the prices of all products from our Japanese artisans. What this means to you is a savings of up to 25%!”

Over the last year or so the Yen lost 38% of its value going right back to the exchange rate that we were used to about a decade ago of 120 Yen to a Dollar. When the Yen reached its peak near 75 Yen to a Dollar, it was impossible for us to buy from our Japanese artisans. This was disheartening but we could no longer keep on raising prices as sales were plummeting. Now the Dollar looks stronger and with an interest rate hike on the horizon we are somewhat confident that it is not going to dive again. That’s why we felt it was time to take out the ax and slash prices.

Japanese Yunomi Tea Cup Set

Wonderful detail of the Hagi noren tapestry by Yoshioka-san.

Which product saw the biggest price drop? It was the HAGI Noren Curtain that went from $375 to $280.

On Dai’s side the FUUFU Japanese Yunomi Tea Cup Set price dropped 24% from $145 to $110.

Japanese Yunomi Tea Cup Set

Yunomi Tea Cup set in irabo glaze by Dai.

With the lower prices at hand, welcoming new Japanese crafts into your world will help you take more time to appreciate the moment.

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Watching A Skilled Artisan Create

How do you explain skilled artisanship to people who have never seen a skilled artisan at work, let alone a group of artisans cooperate seamlessly in perfect synchronization? I found that it is really tough and in most cases better to leave the word handmade out of the discussion.

Sabatino e Catia Craftsmanship

A moment in the creation process. Skilled artisans go from nothing to completed product quickly.

I do what I do because I grew up frequently admiring skilled artisans at work all around Italy. Because of that experience, I have witnessed what can happen before a product reaches the store shelves and in some cases that is close to magic. To get the point across we have redesigned our home page to show a video of Imperio Rossi, Mario Costantini, and a serventino (Mauro) work together to produce a tumbler. The way they can work on multiple products at the same time and separate the task of performing different aspects of the production process is like clock work–clearly the result of years of experience. Not too surprising if you consider that Imperio got started at age 13 in 1964. Fifty-one years of experience must mean something!

Antartidee Craftsmanship

Even the smallest detail matters when you strive for perfection.

When Imperio started working on something more complicated, like a carafe, I could not believe the motions that he had mastered and memorized to attach a handle in the perfect shape. The awe grew when they had me try to pick out a blob of glass from the furnace for them. I tried but I got too little and it immediately fell off my canna because I wasn’t spinning it fast enough.

Peroni Craftsmanship

When your shop is the only one that is able to produce something you are a really skilled artisan.

All of our artisans know something that sets them apart from everybody else. This is the value of know-how and to you it means that their products are unique and the best expression of their kind in the world. To me, that’s a creation worth having.

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Carousel Music Boxes Fondly Stir Up Your Past

As they were completing their university studies, Sabatino and Catia, decided to spend time creating something they were passionate about: carousel music boxes. The passion grew and after they graduated they continued pursuing it–for life.

Thirty years later Sabatino and Catia have lived through many stages in life and those experiences are reflected in their creations. Today we have music boxes that capture moments with infinite sweetness. The way the baby hugs the goose, for example, reminds me exactly of how our baby Marco (at about the age of one) used to hug our old dog Rigatoni.

small baby hugging a goose rotating music box

Small baby hugging a goose rotating music box.

Similarly, our other music boxes tell the story of our discoveries, fantasies, and happy moments. For us older folks, there are plenty of memories like that. Memories that we cherish revisiting. For babies and young children those memories are fast being created. We gave our daughter Chiara a Horsey Carousel (she is very fond of horses to say the least) and she loves playing with it from time to time and when she does our little Marco is immediately drawn to it. Sometimes, when we play it around bed-time, he lays down on his bed, puts his head on his pillow and listens intently.

We have started giving these to celebrate new births and Chiara gave one to her close friend. I wonder if that carousel will become as dear as a music box that my wife received from her best friend when she was a child. When Chiara was two she discovered it and from time to time asked us to wind it. She was not the only one to love it. Now that I have been thinking about it, I know that, next time I open the display case that houses it, I will give it a spin.

What is particularly special about these rotating music boxes is that they are completely handmade and painted, thus each item is pretty unique. Just like us.

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