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Authenticity Marcopoloni, the Tiny Business Our Artisans and Their Products

Why we post pictures of (almost) every Campomaggi bag we sell!

One of our 2015 goals at Marcopoloni is to continue posting individual photos of each Campomaggi bag for sale on our website. That means each actual bag, front and back, so that you can preview the exact bag before you buy it. You can see this in action when you go to add a Colombo bag to your shopping cart, for example, and the pull-down menu lists a whole bunch of different options like ‘Distressed Cognac 1,’ ‘Distressed Cognac 2,’ etc. When you view the corresponding thumbnail photos on the page, you can see the exact bag front and back before adding it to your cart. Why? Because these Campomaggi bags of distressed leather can have so many differences – even among the same shipment of the same bags in the same color – that we realized we had to go the extra mile to successfully sell them and keep our Campomaggi fans happy.

You can see the unique markings from the leather distressing process on this Colombo messenger bag.
You can see the unique markings from the leather distressing process on this Colombo messenger bag in Cognac color.

This is also a Colombo in Cognac - quite different from the one above!
This is also a Colombo in Cognac – quite different from the one above!

It all started years ago when Emi and Daniele received the first shipment from Campomaggi. During a trip to Italy to find artisans, they had fallen in love with Campomaggi bags and decided to sell them here in the U.S. So they ordered eight different styles of bag. Upon opening the boxes, they realized some of the bags looked very different than the ones they’d seen in Campomaggi’s warehouse – things like darker or lighter shades than they saw before, bags that had two slightly different color straps, and major variations in color and texture in different parts of the same bag.

It turns out that Marco Campomaggi’s bags are intentionally made to be imperfect. They undergo a unique manufacturing process, where each bag is washed, dyed and distressed in its entirety after all the parts are put together – straps, lining and all. This technique (patented by Marco’s Campomaggi brand) not only gives his bags their vintage, weathered look, but also makes each single piece really a one-of-a-kind work of art. In fact, it GUARANTEES that no two bags are exactly alike. Because each “skin” is unique in the way it absorbs color, stretches and shrinks, each finished bag is distinct in its color, tonality, and texture. The resulting shape and size may also vary slightly.

Over time, we at Marcopoloni realized that showing each exact bag was the best way to offer top customer service. We encouWe have even been known to e-mail our customers photos of one of us wearing the bag, if modeling shots are not already posted on our website. It’s just one more way to ensure the best service for our customers. And it’s sure to keep us very busy through 2015 and beyond! Are there any photos of handbags you want to see? Or are you curious about this “going the extra mile” customer service? We encourage your phone calls and e-mails!

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Authenticity Marcopoloni, the Tiny Business

Truly hands-on customer service at Marcopoloni!

Yesterday one of our customers ordered the Pausania Vertical Shoulder Tote online. Because he knew we were a small, family-owned business that treats each customer like a friend, he quickly called us with a question about his order. He loved the bag – one of Campomaggi’s classic rugged-chic bags of top-grain, distressed leather – but there was one feature he wanted to change.

We go the extra mile! At customer request, Marcopoloni replaced the chain zipper pull on the Pausania with a leather one.
We go the extra mile! At customer request, Marcopoloni replaced the chain zipper pull on the Pausania with a leather one.

Instead of the leather zipper pull that Campomaggi uses on most of his bags, the Pausania has an antique-finish T-bar chain zipper pull that closes by threading it into a leather loop. Very elegant, but this customer asked if we could switch it out for a leather zipper pull on his Pausania. We looked through our box of Campomaggi parts and found a bag of leather zipper pulls and assured him that yes, it could be done.

Rummaging through our bag of tools, Emi extracted a pair of needle nosed pliers and set to work removing the chain zipper pull and replacing it with a leather zipper pull in Espresso color that perfectly matched the Pausania. This is just one example of how we at Marcopoloni offer customer service that is personalized. Our clients often tell us that calling or e-mailing our office is like catching up with a friend. We value each and every customer, and will try our best to help in any way we can.

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Other

A favorite men’s wallet returns!

The LIRA Italian Leather Wallet is a favorite here at Marcopoloni. We have a hard time keeping them stocked and with the holidays coming, they’re sure to fly off our shelves! We just unpacked a shipment of brown LIRAs from Dionigi and they are as beautiful as always. One of the things we love most about the LIRA is the customer feedback just raving about its quality. It is not easy to find a wallet that will last years and will retain its quality through those many years.

Its large design means you can hold paychecks in the LIRA without folding them.
Its large design means you can hold paychecks in the LIRA without folding them.

The LIRA maintains a slim silhouette and can hold eight credit cards!
The LIRA maintains a slim silhouette and can hold eight credit cards!

As you can see from the photos above, the original LIRAs had the I.D. privacy flap on the right side of the wallet. It has now moved to the left side, as pictured in the bottom photo, which has the privacy flap closed. That is one of the fun things about working with handmade goods. Unlike factory-made, cookie-cutter products, our artisans often make small tweaks and design changes to improve the style and functionality of their goods. It’s also exciting to unpack a new shipment and notice the variations in the leather. Some of the wallets have a more distinct grain detail, while others are smoother, and there are natural variations in the leather colors.

Many of our customers are connoisseurs of handmade goods and appreciate having something that is truly unique. To them, we are proud to offer the LIRA. As one of our top-selling wallets, with its classic style, the LIRA makes an excellent gift for the holidays.

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Authenticity Other Our Artisans and Their Products True Artisanship

In the spotlight: Antartidee!

Much attention is given to our beautiful leather handbags here at Marcopoloni. But we also carry lots of other handmade products you may not have discovered yet. One of our most unusual collections is the work of Antartidee. Based in Reggio Emilia, a city in Northern Italy, Antartidee artists Mauro and Roby and their team have been designing and hand-painting their bold clocks, wall hooks and decorations since 1986.

This wall hook is our most extreme example of Antartidee’s sense of fun and fancy:

This wall hook will surely catch the attention of all who see it.
This wall hook will surely catch the attention of all who see it.

OK, we understand the FLIPPENDINO middle finger wall hook may not be for everyone (though it could make a very amusing retirement or going away gift for someone with a fine sense of humor). Antartidee’s clocks in the style of Surrealist painter Salvador Dali are especially popular. Here are a few of our best sellers:

The DRIPPULUM melting clock in the style of surreal artist Salvador Dali.
The DRIPPULUM melting clock in the style of surreal artist Salvador Dali.

The CAN'T FRAME ME melting clock in the style of surreal artist Salvador Dali.
The CAN’T FRAME ME melting clock in the style of surreal artist Salvador Dali.

The HAND ME THE TIME melting clock in the style of surreal artist Salvador Dali.
The HAND ME THE TIME melting clock in the style of surreal artist Salvador Dali.

Here at Marcopoloni, we seek to bring you products with a soul – the original, the unique, always handmade (or at least, hand-painted) in an ethical manner with respect given to all workers. In doing so, we hope to introduce our customers to new artists whose work they can be proud to own. Check out our full line of Antartidee products here.

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Other

Solving the tangled ear bud problem!

We’ve discovered a new use for the Molla Italian Leather Coin Purse, thanks to our customer Juliana F. It’s perfect for keeping your ear buds tangle free, and easy to locate in your handbag, briefcase, or on your desk.

The Molla is the perfect size for ear buds.
The Molla is the perfect size for ear buds.

The Molla opens by squeezing the ends.
The Molla opens by squeezing the ends.

And it comes in 5 colors!
And it comes in 5 colors!

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Our Artisans and Their Products

Murano Glass Christmas Ornaments in for the Holidays!

Our latest shipment of Murano Glass arrived this week, and not a moment too soon. The orders are coming in for Christmas ornaments! Luckily, we still have about 15 left. Murano Glass is enjoying a moment in the spotlight after the recent news of Amal Clooney gifting new husband George Clooney with a set of Murano Glass tumblers in honor of their wedding.

The NATALE Murano Glass Christmas Ornament.
The NATALE Murano Glass Christmas Ornament.

The FESTE Murano Glass Christmas Ornament.
The FESTE Murano Glass Christmas Ornament.

Murano Glass is close to our hearts. Three years ago, Daniele went to visit our glass makers, Maestro Imperio Rossi and his team on the island of Murano, Italy. He got to see the glass being blown and shaped at the furnaces. Here is a view of what goes into making Murano Glass:

Maestro Mario Costantini blowing a glass vase.
Maestro Mario Costantini blowing a glass vase.

Maestro Mario Costantini shaping glass into a horse.
Maestro Mario Costantini shaping glass into a horse.

A murrina is a slice of a fused bundle of colored glass tubes, and here is a vat full of them!
A murrina is a slice of a fused bundle of colored glass tubes, and here is a vat full of them!

The sun setting on the island of Murano.
The sun setting on the island of Murano.

While a trip to Murano remains a dream for many of us, we can all have a little piece of Murano by owning an ornament or one of the other beautiful Murano Glass figurines!

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Other

Murano glass in the spotlight – a George Clooney wedding gift!

GOTO-ARGENTO-Murano-Glass-Tumbler-Aqua
The headlines thrilled us: ‘Amal Alamuddin’s Surprise $3,700 Wedding Gift to George Clooney Revealed!’ What was this pricey gift? None other than handmade Murano cocktail glasses – a whole set of the same glasses that they drank out of at a hotel at their Venice wedding.

We share in this appreciation of Murano glass – Marcopoloni founders Daniele and Emi can be seen in their office each day sipping from their beautiful Murano glass tumblers. Here at Marcopoloni, we celebrate artisan-made products, believing that you can feel the soul that has been infused into a product at the hands of an inspiring artisan. That is why we sell Murano glass — vases and tumblers and decorative figurines known for their unique beauty and made in Murano, a series of islands in Northern Italy.

Clearly Amal Alamuddin – now called Amal Clooney, having legally taken her new husband’s name – shares in this appreciation for quality handmade works of art.

“Amal loves the idea of them having the same cocktail glasses that they use at the Cipriani Hotel in Venice,” according to an article yesterday in E! News. “George admired them every time he looked at them during the wedding celebrations and they didn’t have time to go shopping in Venice, so she’s ordered them in as a post-wedding gift for him. It means that every time they curl up with a cocktail at home they’ll think of their wedding and be reminded of all the happy memories.”

Another important thing about buying Murano glass is that it helps support the glass artisans in Murano who are in danger of losing their livelihood as more and more mass-produced products compete for the space on store shelves. At Marcopoloni, we sell the art of Murano Glass maker Maestro Imperio Rossi. He loves making glass masterpieces because that is how he gives shape to his ideas that embody his creativity. This passion started in 1964 when, at age thirteen, he began learning from his father and other Maestri the tradition that has lived in Murano for over one thousand years.

Making glass is a team effort. Master Rossi has owned his furnace since 1986 and is joined by Maestro Mario Costantini, and a small team of glass craftspeople who share his dedication and passion for creating beautiful artistic glass. His daughter Sara and his son also help run the business.

So we congratulate the Clooneys and applaud Mrs. Clooney for her giving such a thoughtful gift!

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Authenticity Marcopoloni, the Tiny Business True Artisanship

Etsy’s controversy makes us wonder: how do you know it’s really handmade?

One of the most successful websites to offer handmade, artisan products – Etsy – quietly changed its policies last Fall and allowed in manufacturers. One year later and the site is flooded with items like $3 wrap bracelets supposedly “handmade” in China. Many of the true artisans on Etsy have seen their business plummet as their goods are much harder to find among Etsy’s one-million-plus storefronts.

Even as the movement toward handmade, local, artisan-produced products grows, there is a struggle to define and maintain true handmade status. Etsy broadened its definition of handmade to include “partnering with manufacturers.” Yet they still define themselves as “a marketplace where people around the world connect to buy and sell unique goods.” The same thing has happened in Italy, where companies selling leather goods are allowed to ship pieces overseas and have most of the manufacturing done there while still using the “Made in Italy” label.

At Marcopoloni, our owners travel to Italy every summer to visit the artisans who make many of the leather goods for sale on our site. We are able to see with our own eyes that these products are truly handmade, and offer that assurance to people who buy from our site. So, if you are looking for true handmade products, you have come to the right place!

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Other

Dreaming of the BELLI bag by Campomaggi

The espresso-color BELLI bag looks beautiful with a casual or dressier outfit.
The espresso-color BELLI bag looks beautiful with a casual or dressier outfit.

A long time ago, I worked for Neiman Marcus in San Francisco. I sold Kiehl’s skincare products in the cosmetics department. Directly across from cosmetics was the handbag section, where every day  I gazed  upon the elegant and very expensive Gucci, Prada, Louis Vuitton and Kate Spade handbags.

Twice a year we had an extra employee discount day called 30/30. You got your usual 30 percent off, then an additional 30 percent off that. I kept telling myself I would eventually buy a Gucci bag on 30/30. But I never did. For a long time I regretted that.

Here at Marcopoloni.com, employees accrue “MP Bucks.” Eventually we can use those MP bucks to make a purchase.

I’ve got my eye on this gorgeous BELLI bag by Campomaggi. I love the woven pattern, the vintage look, the beautiful stitching on the sides, and most of all the buttery softness of this full-grain Italian leather as it sits on my shoulder.  It just feels right.

I don’t need to regret passing up a Gucci bag so long ago. Campomaggi bags are even better than those designer purses with immediately-recognizable logos and patterns. When you buy a Campomaggi you are buying something made by hand at an artisan’s workshop in Italy, colored with environmentally friendly vegetable-based dyes. Not something that comes off a factory assembly line.  And your bag will look like nobody else’s.

So for now I will wait. And hope this bag is still here in stock when I am ready to cash in my MP Bucks!

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Marcopoloni, the Tiny Business

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.