A Leather Key Chain with Royal Roots

There is a new member of our key chain family. The Dragon key chain, that we have carried since the beginning of our existence, got a younger brother: the red dragon. After spending 10 years by himself and being referred to as simply the “dragon key chain”, the veteran key chain will now be called Green Dragon Keychain.

Why the sudden addition you might ask? Well, we did not plan it. Last year we were contacted by a customer in Wales who told us that the Red Dragon is the symbol of Wales. After finding that out we immediately ordered it from Gianni and began reading about the association between Wales and the red dragon. It turns out that the red dragon has been officially part of the Welsh flag only since 1959, but the ties between dragons and Wales possibly go as far back as the second century when Roman cavalry stationed in Wales (and elsewhere) used the symbol. In 1485 Henry Tudor, of Welsh descent, flew the dragon of Cadwaladr during his invasion of England from France. He defeated Richard III and became king. It was then that he added the Tudor colors, green and white, to the dragon to complete the Welsh flag.

The Red Dragon Key Chain might be on the Welsh flag some day
The Red Dragon Key Chain might be on the Welsh flag some day.

What was most interesting to find out was that there is no standard design for the dragon on the Welsh flag. So, technically, the design of Gianni’s red dragon could, some day, make it to the flag. Until then, the Red Dragon Key Chain will be happy to represent Welsh pride and occasionally light a fire in your pocket.

An Interesting Stop While House Hunting

House hunting for a business owner is a diversion. It does provide a diversion from my daily routine, but after not too long, I became so focused on this endeavor that I realize that this is going to be a massive diversion of my attention and of our funds. The market in Silicon Valley is moving up at roughly a 5% pace every month. This is the reason why we got beaten every time, even we offered $50,000 over asking, and possibly the reason why we will just decide to sit this one out.

Then, something very interesting came on the market. By interesting I don’t mean something that will cause us to spend our bottom dollar: I mean something that we had to go see and bring Chiara and our cameras along.

This is why:

Every day a smiling Sun will be warming your day!

The unit is entirely covered in tile. With the exception of the ceilings and a few, rare, surviving walls, it depicts Saint Francis and the Sun and what I think must be depictions of Assisi.

The unit is well laid out with two bedrooms and a den, an attached garage, two private patios, and an eye-popping asking price of $485,000. At 1102 square feet that is a whopping $440 per square foot. Far more than even the unit that just sold in the same complex and that was far more attractive. Take a look at it in detail on Redfin. It’s worth it!

Zillow thinks it’s worth less than $400,000. Let’s not talk about e-appraisal, which hasn’t yet figured out that the market is going in the other direction. On the other hand, it is located in a very attractive complex with a wonderful pool,  and the schools are really good.

I think that it should fetch $468,000, but I would not be surprised if it sold for asking. In fact, given the craziness of the market today, I foresee 3 offers and a $495,000 winning bid. I will be curious to see how it pans out!

In the meantime we will hopefully be busy bidding on something else.

A Surprise Gift From Italy

A few weeks ago we got a surprise visit from Gianni’s cousin, who happens to live less than an hour away from our office, and he was bearing gifts from Italy! Oh my, what could it be? We opened it right away and it was a gift for our daughter Chiara: a small blue t-shirt from the volleyball team that Gianni sponsors bearing the number 13. If you think that the number 13 is bad luck, you must know that, in Italy, the seat of countless superstitions, it has long been supplanted by the number 17 and has now found a new vocation as a lucky number.

Although this is a simple gift, it does say a lot about Italian people and culture. First, Italians love kids and always think about how to make their day a little brighter. Second, Italians can make you feel like you are part of the family (which comes with all the benefits I have mentioned in other posts and articles) and will not refrain from asking you a very time consuming favor (in this case Mario had to spend a half-day to deliver something to a perfect stranger–but in the end he made a new connection): so we fully expect to be on the hook. Gianni, if you are reading this, when you finally make it to California, I will arrange everything, including the bikes to go coast-to-coast.

Gianni's gift to Chiara

The Companion I Never Expected

I don’t like purses. Why? Well, the word “purse” ALWAYS implies that it is some sort of fashionable handbag that ladies carry. Any sort of bag a lady carries is automatically seen as a “purse”. That makes no sense to me. With that said, I am definitely not the type of person to carry a purse, a handbag, or what have you. All I need are pockets to carry my phone, keys and wallet and I’m ready to go!

My first impression of Marcopoloni was how it is a company that perpetuates passion, hard work and genuineness. That definitely is what Marcopoloni embodies, no doubt. The products being offered here are so full of life and character that you can’t help but get drawn to them. Well, let’s fast forward to when I had access to the Campomaggi catalog. Found my first Campomaggi creation pretty quickly, I’d say. Not only is it my first Campomaggi bag in general, it is a custom order! Named after the inventor of the helicopter, Enrico Forlanini, it is every bit as logical and practical as its namesake.

After carrying the Forlanini with me on my adventures, the bag has become an appendage of me (Notice how I use the word “bag” to keep the ambiguity of what it is alive. It’s a bag. Simple as that). What has changed since I have the Forlanini? Well, I still just carry my essentials, really. The typical phone, keys and wallet with the new addition of a sketchbook, a pencil, and mints (ginger mints, to be specific). The most important aspect of my bag is how it represents me. The ruggedness of Campomaggi’s signature distressed leather coupled with its simplistic, utilitarian design just makes so much sense to me. It symbolizes my ideals of keeping things simple and straightforward. Lastly, I truly feel that Campomaggi embodies what it is like to be true to yourself–to your roots–in all of his products. As someone who has never envisioned herself seeing any sort of need to carry a bag, my first Campomaggi bag has truly become the companion I never expected.

My Forlanini as it is, scratches and all.

 

Why Only Bags Made in Italy?

Italian Artisan whose craft is an extension of his soul.

At Marcopoloni, we care about products that express the artisan’s genius and creativity. We expect to find that anywhere in the world, but, since I am Italian, Italy has been a major focus for our searches. It helps that amazing leather craftsmanship abounds in Italy.

But I am sure that you are already well aware that the opposite is also true: many Italian companies have taken advantage of the fact that only a percentage of the final product has to actually be made in Italy to get the “Made in Italy” label. That’s unfortunate because, as I have read on many forums about bags, customers no longer associate quality with an Italian product.

When I was a teenager, I was fortunate to travel a lot throughout every corner of Italy and to most Mediterranean countries. It was at that time that I started appreciating leather craftsmanship and the production process of leather goods. What I saw then has grown into my passion and is what I am trying to preserve now. When you you shop for one of our bags from Italy you don’t get a cheap bag that tries to profit from its Italian label. You get a bag that I am pretty sure you will have a chance to like because the artisan who made it put his experience and pride behind it.

When Emi and I got married in Portovenere, Italy, in 2007, we stopped by the leather shop in the picture. I probably do not need to explain that his craftsmanship was amazing. We tried to buy from him later but it was too difficult to communicate from the States. It is my unfulfilled dream to go back on a future anniversary and fill up my suitcases. Because that is our mission: to help you rediscover the soul that was infused into a product at the hands of an inspiring artisan.

True craftsmanship results in products with a soul.

Four Years with My COLOMBO Distressed Leather Messenger Bag

DANIELE's Distressed Leather Messenger Bag
Daniele’s COLOMBO Distressed Leather Messenger Bag

2009 was the year when Emi uncovered some beautiful Campomaggi bags. We instantly fell in love and in a matter of months we were perusing the Campomaggi stock room ready to place our first order. That’s when the COLOMBO caught my attention: the vertical design was modern, manly, and appropriate for use with a netbook or tablet. When we received our first shipment, the one that featured the reinforcement leather strips that had absorbed the distressed olive brown color differently became my pick.

Since then, I have used my COLOMBO Distressed Leather Messenger Bag practically every day, and only rarely applied lotion to spots that got scratched–I meant to do it more often but I never seem to get around to doing it. The bag has been with me every day at work and on every travel occasion: it always seems to be the right bag for my tablet and netbook whether or not I need to carry both.

First the cons: on days when I carried both tablet and netbook and stuffed it with everything else I needed to take to an all-day trade show, the bag eventually started feeling heavy. Campomaggi leather is top quality full grain leather that is thick, and therefore heavy: there is no way around that. But since I carry the vertical messenger bag cross-body, the weight, although noticeable, was certainly bearable. On a day-to-day basis when I carry it for shorter bursts at a time I don’t notice the bag’s weight at all. The other time when I felt that the bag did not perform was when I wanted to take my sweatshirt off and slip it in the COLOMBO: it did not fit. Although the bag carries everything I need, there is not room for additional bulky items.

As to the pros… they can be summed up quickly: I love the bag. First of all, it doesn’t feel like a purse and I am totally comfortable wearing it. Second, I think that it looks good hanging fairly low behind my hip. Third, did you see the leather? To touch it is a constant reward. It feels alive when I hold it, it basks in the sun when I open the trunk to get it and shines with richness of color. Anyone who knows something about leather is very impressed and compliments me. Finally, after four years the bag still performs like a new one: I mistreated it a few times (I seem to want to drive with the trunk locked around the cotton strap) and it is not showing any signs of wanting to fall apart. Some of the deeper scratches take a long time to go away and perhaps some will not, but they blend in so nicely and they are part of  the story of me now: they are here to stay.

My Favorite Campomaggi Bag
Daniele and his favorite Campomaggi leather bag.

I Finally Got My LUCA Leather Belt

LUCA Casual Leather Belt by Dionigi
After owning my ALDO Leather Dress Belt for a few years, I found its quality so superior that I stopped wearing any other belt I owned. I soon realized that wearing a dress belt with jeans is not good for looks and it is not good for the wear and tear on the belt. So I set my eyes on the more casual LUCA Leather Belt but it was always close to going out of stock (I did not want to risk depriving our customers) as every time a new shipment would arrive from Italy the availability would appear to be just barely sufficient to meet demand. So I increased our order quantities and finally got enough belts to go around to feed my growing hunger for a LUCA. That’s when I realized that I had another problem: our smallest size was for a range of waist sizes from 32 to 37. My pants size is 31 and I don’t like the extremity of the belt to flap around too much.

I had to ponder the decision of adding a smaller belt size (30-35). Considering that it is becoming increasingly difficult to prevent a run up in my waist size, did I really want to get a size that would cause people like me to say: “maybe I should just get a 32?”

Luckily I brushed my hesitation aside and ordered the 30-35, which has just arrived. I waited for Anita’s stringent customs inspection to be complete (I’m referring to her quality control inspection) and I finally got to have my very own LUCA. This whole process took longer than a year!

I am thrilled with it so far, but I will write a report in a few weeks with all the details. For the time being enjoy the photo. Do you like my new Campomaggi bracelet?