Our Artisans and Their Products

Got the Best Birthday Surprise Gift

The other day we got a shipment from Gianni and in it I found the most appreciated and most unexpected birthday gift imaginable.

We had last visited Gianni in Sicily in 2009. When it came time to say goodbye, I realized that I had left the dress shoes I really was going to need for my next meetings back in the hotel room. Because they had already made our room, it took us a long time to locate my shoes, we missed our bus by a minute and Gianni ended up having to take us all the way to Catania, more than two hours away. (Read the full story here).

It turns out that I had lost more that the shoes that day. My wife was loaning her precious 2002 World Cup hat that she bought in Japan when she got to go watch some of the games. This was the only hat that I would wear and I really meant to take good care of it. After our trip, we never saw the hat and thought it was lost for good until it popped out of the box we just opened.

All I can say is: “Thank you!!!” And I have to say that Gianni really has a way to make people like him!

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Our Artisans and Their Products

New Leather Bags

We have been very busy over the last couple of weeks and have added so many products that today I am going to have to talk about only the leather bags. The are all leather bags by Giudi.

The PIAZZA Small Zippered Crossbody Bag is a very popular shape due to the rise of tablet and netbook sales in recent years.

Piazza small zippered crossbody bag

The PLICO Zippered Laptop Leather Bag is a very contemporary dual tone leather bag that can replace a briefcase.

Plico leather laptop bag

The CORRIERE Organizer Crossbody Bag.

Corriere organizer crossbody bag

The DONNA Classic Italian Leather Satchel.

Donna classic italian leather satchel

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Our Artisans and Their Products

New GRANA Italian leather wallet with ID window

Last week we added a lot of new color variations to our catalog, but the only new product that is ready for viewing is the GRANA Italian leather wallet with ID window.

GRANA Italian leather wallet with ID window

This wallet is very practical because it features an abundance of credit card slots, a very convenient ID window, and 2 document pockets. It is also very stylish with its very unique design. These features make it ideal for young men who are starting to tackle life’s many responsibilities.

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Our Artisans and Their Products

New Murano Glass Treasures

Last week I spent a lot of time putting together the information about seven new Murano glass pieces by maestro Imperio Rossi. Needless to say, all pieces are authentic Imperio Rossi creations that bear his signature and the Vetro Artistico Murano tamper-proof sticker that features the number that identifies his furnace: 033.

The pieces added vary from vases to tumblers and feature a few different styles. I am always in awe when I work next to one of these murano glass creations: I end up admiring all the details.

The SBRUFFO product line features a layer of colored glass brushed (for lack of better words) on top of the item. The technique creates a multidimensional and multicolor effect that is very pleasing to the touch and eye.

Sbruffo Murano glass lamp shade

Blue murano glass lamp shade in sbruffo style

GOTO Sbruffo murano glass tumbler

The Murrine Millefiori product line features products that maestro Imperio Rossi designs in the evening and lays out before starting work for the day.

AMABILE murano glass vase
Murano glass murrine millefiori vase.

The Fusione product line features a mix of hand blown murrina cores with sculpted colored glass to create various objects. We carry three animal figurines that are absolutely adorable. Two of these, the elephant and the fish, just got added last week.

PESCE PALLA murano glass figurine
Murano glass Fusione fish figurine.

ELEFANTE Murano glass elephant figurine
Murano glass Fusione elephant figurine.

The Argento Murrina product line features silver leaf covered with Murrina. We have a set of 6 tumblers that we just added to the web site.

GOTO ARGENTO Murano glass silver leaf and murrina tumbler
Murano glass silver leaf and murrina tumbler

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Other True Artisanship

Kewpie Dolls: A Revelation

Kewpie Dolls in Takayama
Kewpie Dolls at the Miyagawa Morning Market in Takayama

I came across these adorable Kewpie dolls at the Miyagawa Morning Market in Takayama, Japan. The dolls were not handmade, but they were wearing little handmade 浴衣(yukata, or a casual version of the kimono)! When I laid eyes upon them, they immediately brought me back to my childhood – I couldn’t remember if I actually owned one, or they were so pervasive back in the day that I just felt like I owned one. I picked one up and showed it to my soon-to-be three year old daughter, hoping she would show some level of interest, leaving me no option but to indulge in her childish desires. Lucky for me, she obliged.

When my husband asked me what it was, I proudly explained to him that Kewpie dolls come from a famous brand of Japanese mayonnaise, called Kewpie Mayonnaise. It was not until I returned home from Japan that I discovered the real origin of Kewpie dolls…

According to Wikipedia, Kewpie dolls were first produced in Germany, based on a cartoon illustration that appeared in the Ladies’ Home Journal in 1909. So it wasn’t the squeeze-tube mayonnaise that made the Kewpie dolls famous after all! Dang, I hate being wrong. Worse yet, I now have to go back and tell my husband that I was misinformed … or, I can just see if he’ll read this blog post.

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Our Artisans and Their Products

4 New Campomaggi Bags

Last week we added 4 new Campomaggi bags. All four bags feature studs to varying degrees and showcase the designer’s creativity.

The Alessi is a 4-way leather pochette with removable strap.
ALESSI leather pochette by Campomaggi

The De Conti is a large studded tote in distressed leather.
DE CONTI large studded tote by Campomaggi

The Torricelli is a large studded shopper in distressed leather.
TORRICELLI large shopper by Campomaggi

Finally, the Zeno is a rugged shoulder saddle bag.
ZENO rugged shoulder saddle bag by Campomaggi

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Marcopoloni, the Tiny Business

Going to Takayama

Getting out of Tokyo to head to Takayama is not going to be an easy feat today. The mountain road that is most direct is not accessible due to the recent rain and even the highway between Shinjuku and Yamanashi is a parking lot due to a serious accident. We’ll see how it goes…
…what regularly takes 5.5 hours took 9 hours today. Yet, the bus was quite empty so we were able to stretch and spread out while enjoying the varying landscapes.

Soon after leaving Tokyo we were surrounded by mountains that became taller and taller while the valleys got narrower. I was impressed by how woods seem to completely cover the mountains and by the misty low-level clouds that dotted most side valleys.  

During the trip we also decided that the next contest winner will be chosen among those who interact with our Japan photos on Facebook. The prize will be a souvenir from Japan.

Now we made it to Ryokan Tanabe and I can’t wait for dinner!

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Marcopoloni, the Tiny Business True Artisanship

Authentic Italian Accomplished

I recently commented on how difficult it is to export a local experience to another country. Yet, it can be done, at least to a good extent.

We had been up since 3:30, thanks to serious jetlag, and still had time to kill before we could start calling the artisans we wanted to visit. What a better way than a nice breakfast to kill time?

We set out to find a nice place and I was eyeing all the coffee shops with Italian sounding names, but none of them were open that early. Luckily inside the subway entrance we found a Segafredo outpost that was open and that spelled everything correctly, including shakerato and macchiatone.

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Marcopoloni, the Tiny Business Our Artisans and Their Products

Mobile Hotspot

On this trip to Japan we arrived prepared and had a mobile hotspot ready for us. The wimax 4G device will allow five devices to be connected at the same time. This has allowed us to find more craftspeople to contact and setup our appointments. Too bad that the rented device came with a battery that no longer holds a charge.

Now that the frustration of having no Internet access when traveling has been addressed, we need to do something about the netbook we’re all sharing. Granted, when our daughter Chiara needs to use it, we can work on our iPhones, but I am starting to think that a tablet might be a welcome addition.

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True Artisanship

Authentic Italian

As we were about to board our plane to Japan, we stopped by an Italian bakery, which I will leave unnamed, to get some lunch. The bakery advertised that it offered authentic Italian food true to its Italian origins, as the company was started near Milan.

As I was growing up in Milan, I went to this bakery every once and again and it was a good bakery, like any respectable bakery in town–something that I cannot say about the location at San Francisco Airport.

Pasticceria was not the only thing misspelled here.When I saw that they even misspelled the word “pasticceria” on their sign, I started to think about how could these guys make their Authentic Italian claim. The reality is that it is hard to copy what is Authentic Italian and deliver that around the world when you are talking about food that can only be made locally.

At Marcopoloni, we go to great lengths to make sure that what we label “Made in Italy” is truly authentic Italian. Our relationships with our artisans deepen every year and we go and find out about the production and content of the products we offer. Vendors that take advantage of the fact that you can label “made in Italy” something that is 60% made in Italy, don’t make it very far with us.

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