Gianni, Our First Artisan, Is Always Creating

Gianni Drawing In Alicudi (Lipari)
Gianni Drawing In Alicudi (Lipari)
There are places where the sky and the sea inspire you ideas.

I just got off the phone with Gianni. Today it was easy to get a hold of him because, having fallen during a mountain bike race, he just cracked three ribs and now he has to rest quite a bit. That’s why he put himself in charge of the phones, accounting, and is staying put for a while. Such an easy target I might call him back tomorrow!

As we were chatting, I told him that I wanted to visit his cousin for lunch because he has an Italian restaurant in Palo Alto, not too far from us. He said: “Make sure to call me at home when you are there and I will buy you lunch!” It turns out that he means to pay him next time he sees Mario. Gianni is the elder among his cousins so I am curious to do this. I don’t want to get a free lunch, but I would like to see his face when I tell him that I have his cousin Gianni on the phone.

One of the reasons for me to call him was to get the picture of him drawing new products in the Aeolian Islands. I had seen the picture on his website and it looked great: a wonderful setting with the sea and the Island of Alicudi in the background. If you are ever trying to figure out a beautiful place to visit in Italy that is off the beaten path, this is certainly a good example. We are going to use the picture in our next Calendar (and possibly every calendar thereafter) and wish to go there.

As usual, Gianni was busy creating something new. He said that demand for his products in his native island (Sicily) is growing at a healthy rate so he is designing, among other things, a Trinacria key chain–a symbol of Sicily. I can’t wait to get this because many Italian descendants in the US appreciate Sicilian symbolism and I think that it would really add to our selection.

Gianni's New Trinacria
A prototype is coming alive. We might have it next year.

Thank you for reading my post. Don’t forget to use the coupon code I disclosed in a previous post to get 10% off anything on the Marcopoloni site during the month of November. Also stay on top of new additions by signing up to our newsletter below.

The Campomaggi Fall Winter Collection – Part 2

TOALDO Campomaggi Studded Leather Patchwork Bag
TOALDO Campomaggi Studded Leather Patchwork Bag
TOALDO Campomaggi Studded Leather Patchwork Bag

Fall is always super busy for us because we make sure to stock up for the Holiday season and try to have lots of new products to introduce. Add to that that we try to add the Fall/Winter collections during fall, not the beginning of summer, and you can imagine that we have a great number of products to introduce. In the past we noticed that when too many products arrive at the same time we do not have the resources and creativity to properly present each product. That has caused many worthy products to go nearly unnoticed for a while until customers started to dig them out of our catalog.

It used to be either canvas with leather accents or leather. Now you have this, and it is a great combination according to the customers who snatched these up.

To prevent that we are now spreading out the arrival of new products by Campomaggi across multiple shipments. This week we received one such shipment and it was very exciting because the bags and accessories that we picked for this winter are really beautiful.

One new design is the distressed leather with a grid pattern of small multicolored brass studs. The TOALDO Campomaggi bag is a great example of this. Another is the VERATTI: a spacious bag with a myriad of small pockets in front and strong magnets securing the closure flaps.
Another line is represented by the FERRARI: canvas bags with large leather components such as a full front flap.

The VERATTI features a magnet closure, in a style that is unusual for Campomaggi.

Adding Unbelievably Cool New Antartidee Home Accessories

CAUGHT MY EYES Eyeglasses Stand
CAUGHT MY EYES Eyeglasses Stand
The CAUGHT MY EYES Eyeglasses Stand has a strong personality and gives your glasses a safe resting place.

Antartidee has always aided us with useful products. It just seems to me that this time they are even more extremely useful AND even more extremely cool. I’ll admit it: at first the idea of an eyeglass stand did not sound very appealing. Fast-forward a year, as I am reaching for my eyeglasses more often, I have started leaving a pair on my nightstand. Unfortunately, they sometimes get knocked off of it and I freak out because I think that Marco (or a sleepy self) will crush them. The CAUGHT MY EYES, with its wide base could claim a permanent spot for the nightstand, look really cool, and bring some order to the surface.

Similarly, I totally want to use the PEPPER OPENER: easy to find in the drawer or on the kitchen counters where I left it last, and cool to use. No more boring clunkiness, it’s time to be stylish in the kitchen: we often have guests!

The rest of the products that arrived are great too. I just finished adding the BAFFONI wall hook to the catalog and have a few more to go. I hope to be done in time for the next newsletter next week, which reminds me: don’t forget to sign up to stay more up-to-date. As usual, don’t forget to use the November offer code that gets you 10% off anthing on the site just for reading my blog. Thank you!

CAUGHT MY EYES Eyeglasses Stand
The CAUGHT MY EYES Eyeglasses Stand has a strong personality and gives your glasses a safe resting place.

My Style

Daniele Graziani Style
Daniele Graziani Style
Daniele’s style seeks comfort and cool beauty, not overpriced brands.

I’ve never been much of a conformist. I wasn’t a paninaro growing up in Milan in the 80’s and I don’t subscribe to expensive brands for the sake of the brands. I just want what I think is the best stuff in the world. Is that too much to ask?

What I noticed early on in my life was that name brands could sell sub-par products at high prices just by slapping their logos on it. Kudos to their marketing departments, but I want something that is better quality and fits my tastes.

Don’t get me wrong, I like some of the luxury brands. For example, growing up I though Armani was great. But now I see that they make their shirts in Tunisia. Nothing wrong with that, I suppose, but I have had the luck to travel through all of Italy. I’ve been to every region and talked to a myriad of artisans, both great and not so great, and some truly amazing. And those amazing artisans make amazing stuff. So instead of getting an Armani shirt made in some factory in Tunisia, I would prefer to find an amazing artisan that still makes amazing shirts.

In my photo above I am comfortable with my look. The shoes, scarf, and jacket are by Maledetti Toscani. The belt and belt pouch by Campomaggi. The key chain by Gianni. I wear everything with pride knowing that each item is the best of its kind in the world or very close to it–it is, so far, the very best that I could find.

Of course I can’t find everything that is awesome on my own. If you know of a great artisan, anywhere in the world, please let me know so that I can explore more greatness. Thank you for reading my blog, use offer code DANI10XK to get 10% off anything in the store until 11/30/2015. For more updates about our great artisans, make sure to sign up for our newsletter. We send up to six every year.

New Murano Glass Ornaments Capture Your Thoughts

MURANO Glass Fruit
MURANO Glass Fruit
MURANO Glass Fruit

As we placed an order for Murano glass products that are running out of stock we decided to try some new items. We perused our very many pictures of the vast number of creations by Imperio Rossi and Mario Costantini and ran into a few things that we really liked. In fact, we had already noted that we really liked these items, we just always had to narrow down our choices to what would most likely sell. This time, we were after something that was not as common and would inspire the admirer.

What we decided to choose this time was a set of fruit. These fruits are so attractive and realistic that they remind me of a still life painting, only achieved using a completely different medium: glass. Just like a painting these fruits can evoke different emotions and thoughts. I personally like to gaze at things and let them talk to me. I find the experience very peaceful and inspiring. I think of many things: the artisans, the process of creation, the care for the details. Having seen how other items are made, I know that every ridge, wave, and angle is not accidental: it was likely meant to be there. Also, I look at the details as they now rest, waiting to be noticed. This fruit can get pretty philosophical with me as it never rots, it is extremely fragile, beautiful, but it can’t be had. It also makes me wonder if climate change is threatening these fruits; it makes me recall the best tasting versions I had at one farm or another.

Then, ultimately I just appreciate the beauty of these fruits standing close together. Doing absolutely nothing, yet elevating the tone of the whole room. I will never stop loving authentic Murano glass!

MURANO Glass Apple
MURANO Glass Apple

The Campomaggi Shipment Has Arrived

TOALDO Shoulder Bag Front
The new TOALDO Shoulder Bag
The new TOALDO Shoulder Bag fresh out of the box.

The latest Campomaggi Shipment has just walked through the door. This one is particularly interesting because it includes both items from the new Fall/Winter 2015 collection that we have never experienced, and some new variants from the Spring/Summer 2015 collection that you have requested.

When we receive lots of new products we have to focus exclusively on them for quite some time. As you know, we inspect them very carefully one by one to make sure that no defective units show up to your door. Then, because each Campomaggi bag is unique, we take at least two photos of each bag and add the bag with the photos to the database.

At this point, the bags show up in our Just Landed page, the page where you can preview bags and purchase them before they officially enter our catalog. At this stage we start talking about the novelties on social media but have to be careful not to link to this page as the product will eventually get moved.

When we have added all products to the just landed page, we go back and carefully complete the information associated with each product so that you can see weight, dimensions, sometimes a modeling shot, a description followed by a specific list of features. We also pick a list of recommended related products, and make sure that the product is categorized correctly so that it will appear on the correct pages.

Among the values that we categorize is the color. So if you search for the color in our search box the products that come in that color will rise towards the top of the search results. This is not a perfect system but it should help those of you who are interested in finding the bags we have in a specific color.

If you are interested in Campomaggi products, make sure to be notified of new arrivals. Sign up to our newsletter below or to Emi’s Campomaggi Report.

TOALDO with Campomaggi Model
A photo supplied by Campomaggi with the TOALDO worn by a model.

Switching to Quickbooks Online and Node.js

Quickbooks Online
Quickbooks Online
We are busy switching to Quickbooks Online.

As a business owner who has a long past and present as a web developer, I watch the tools that we use and the latest technological trends closely. I don’t like to use cutting edge technology, but I do like to make the jump as soon as there is a business case for it and a clear path that will enable a successful transition.

We have been looking at Quickbooks online for a very long time because I have been dreaming about an accounting system tied to our back-end system forever. Emi, on the other hand, has been longing for the ability to view up-to-date inventory information from anywhere. The problem always was that QuickBooks Online did not support inventory, and the few accounting SaaS companies that did provide it charged a lot for it. It felt that inventory was not on the radar of many of these companies who, obviously, chose the software or service industries as their target markets.

When we finally found out that QuickBooks Online offered inventory we were still stopped by the other hurdle: the ability to support multiple currencies. Last summer this was not supported but it was on the radar. Finally, this fall it arrived, and we were ready to jump on board, except for one tiny detail: if your QuickBooks company file includes multi-currency you won’t be able to export it to import it in QuickBooks online. This really royally stunk and gave us pause, but we decided to go ahead and not to ever look back.

As to integrating our back-end with QuickBooks Online’s it is going to be fairly easy. The API seems well developed although, by reading a few forums, there are some scenarios that return strange errors. I will be happy to sweat through those as nothing seems to be as confusing as the poorly documented FedEx and USPS APIs. Using Node will be a pleasure and abandoning our old technology stack will feel like getting rid of a ball and chain.

So if you are looking to abandon QuickBooks desktop in favor of QuickBooks Online, maybe check to see if you are going to be able to export your file (you might have to upgrade your version). Otherwise, I don’t know what else might cause you to go against that decision. In our case, we were able to save money because online payroll + QuickBooks online was cheaper than the previous payroll solution we were using. Less money, more convenience: a no-brainer.