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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
On Friday we received a shipment of 150 Campomaggi bags. Along with it came a few smaller accessories, including a belt-loop leather pouch with strap that I had picked thinking that it might come in handy to use when I go to Chiara’s soccer practice.
When Chiara started playing soccer last year, I would often wear sport shorts and a t-shirt, all without pockets. Since taking pictures was so important, I started carrying a nylon pouch with strap that was just big enough to store my wallet, my phone, my camera and then I would clip my keys to the strap.
I loved the little bag because it was so convenient, and I soon started wishing that Campomaggi would make one.
A year later I saw this. But the measurements said that it might be too small. Undeterred I ordered it and, voila`, my wallet and phone (a Galaxy SII) just barely fit and I am counting on the fact that with a little use it will get easier to slide the phone in an out.
So, without further due, I fit my leather belt through the belt loop and began the test drive. My wallet fits with room to spare while my phone needs a little push. My first impression is that I really like it, in particular, I really like the color: distressed olive brown is very rich and reminds me of the beauty of walnut burl wood. I am worried that it might look too big so I keep asking my wife and checking myself in the mirror. I don’t think it is too big, especially when you consider the size of what I am carrying. Time will tell, that is why I am going to test drive it!
So I haven’t been writing much lately, mainly because I have been feverishly working to ensure that we have plenty of Campomaggi bags in stock for all you fans out there. Some bags are so popular that despite our best efforts, we just can’t seem to keep them in stock. I apologize in advance for that, and to those of you who will have to wait months before being able to hold their bags in their hands.
The first fruit of my labor arrived this week … a shipment to replenish some sold out items and, more importantly, a bunch of new bags!! Because it will take many days before we get around to posting all of the new bags on our website, we put together a quick video to show you what we got. If you see anything that interests you, please let me know! I’d be happy to provide more photos or video. Oh, and one last bit of good news … three new Campomaggi briefcases are expected by the middle of next week. Enjoy!
(Continued from Part 1)
Today business is growing very rapidly at a time when the great recession has negatively impacted growth for a lot of companies in the industry.
Because of this success Campomaggi and Caterina Lucchi have been selected by a european union body as the Italian small business that thrived during hard times through innovation and creativity. The award will be presented in the fall. The choice was definitely appropriate.
After getting Caterina’s take on her favorite leather bags the time came for me to say “goodbye.” The impression I got is that the ingredients of Caterina and Marco’s success are love, passion, hard work, creativity, and intuition. A list of ingredients that requires skill to nurture and amalgamate. As it turns out, Marco and Caterina know something about nurturing and mixing ingredients: the Campomaggi kitchen at home has room for two cooks and if their bags are the clue… dinner must be memorable.
At the end of the day, I was able to casually chat with Caterina Lucchi. Despite all of our previous conversations I still felt that a gentle poke into Caterina’s past would help me learn a lot more about her philosophy and inspiration.
As we sat on the couch and started talking, a number of Caterina’s employees sat on the chairs nearby and began listening. It was a cozy moment: we were only missing a crackling fireplace and a snowstorm outside.
Caterina began dating Marco when she was seventeen and Marco was eighteen. Caterina worked as a waitress and Marco was starting to make leather bags with a friend and was selling his unique and handmade bags on the sidewalks of Cesenatico.
Since Marco couldn’t make bags fast enough, Caterina, who aspired to become a Physical Education teacher, began helping and discovered a passion for creating beautiful accessories. Marco and Caterina began exhibiting at local markets and fairs and met such positive response that they had to set aside making progress on their university studies.
Soon it was time to hire their first employee. At the beginning, the position required a little bit of everything. The job description included accounting for a couple of days a week and a lot of help making bags. That first hire is now Campomaggi and Caterina Lucchi‘s Purchasing Manager. Marco and Caterina take pride in never having fired anyone. When the deep crisis hit the industry after 9/11, they reduced hours for everyone at the company.
PETALO GRANDE laser-cut handbag. By the way, I am 5'5" and the bag in no way feels too large for me.
When we write product descriptions, we try to go beyond simply listing features and convey the essence, or the “personality” of the product. Often I’ll let a product sit on my desk for days before I feel like I am familiar enough with it to write about it. If it’s a handbag, I might try carrying it on my shoulder to see how comfortable it feels, or try filling it with different items to see what kinds of uses it might be best suited for.
With the Petalo Grande Laser-cut Leather Handbag, I wanted to try something different. So I had Daniele take photos of me as I was toting it around. The result was somewhat surprising … the image I had of the bag was not the same as what I saw in the photos! Because the bag is so light – one of the big pluses of Caterina Lucchi‘s leather bags – I hadn’t realized how large the bag seems from a distance. (I also realized that my sepia-colored sweater does not really bring out the nuanced java color of this bag). The bag IS quite large. You can fit quite a bit of stuff in it. But you won’t feel like you’re toting around a bowling bag, because even though it’s real Italian leather, it’s calfskin … super soft and supple, and light-weight.
I love the Batik, two-toned look of this bag. It’s subtle enough as to not detract from the gorgeous laser-cut flower motif, but offers just enough of a contrast to remind us that the understated brown is most definitely intentional. A very nice feature (also typical of Caterina Lucchi’s handbags) is the removable leather strap. I thought this bag would be first and foremost a handbag, and secondly a shoulder/cross-body bag, but to my surprise, it looked fantastic worn crossbody style - perhaps even better than high on the shoulder. I loved this look so much that I decided to take even more photos with my 1-day old HTC Vivid and play around with some of the nifty effects that would take several steps to do in Photoshop! These two were my favorite.
Depth of Field
Anyway, now that we have smartphones that can take high-quality photos and videos that can be uploaded to our server with just a couple of key strokes, we hope to post more photos and videos of our products going forward. Hmm, maybe I can use this as an excuse to go shop for some new clothes!
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