The date has finally arrived. Today, which happens to also be our fourth wedding anniversary, Emi and I fly to Japan with our daughter Chiara.
We have booked a mobile wifi device that will enable us to post photos on Facebook and keep in touch as we explore Japan. If you see one of those pictures, be the first one to tag it “Marcopoloni”!
I am very excited and look forward to posting from the other side of the Pacific!
When it comes to web site changes, I fight them off like the plague. My colleagues must think that my mission in life is to keep things the same. This is due to the fact that I learned a long time ago that no small change is a simple change. But this time it was different.
We created some of our product lines when we only had one artisan offering the type of product. For example, the first wallets we introduced were by Dionigi, but we called the product line “Men’s Wallets”, which made things difficult when we started adding wallets from other vendors.
So last week, we created new product lines, eliminated redundant ones, and merged a few, to come up with a more logical set. The benefit is that we now have more product lines like these: Gianni Miniature Leather Accessories, which gives you a single place where to find Gianni products with miniature accents.
Last week we added a new Campomaggi distressed suede leather tote and a keychain gift set. We also inspected an incoming Dionigi shipment and found one Lucio with what appears to be a pen mark inside so we are offering it at a discount.
The Cardano distressed suede tote is a beautiful addition to the Campomaggi lineup. We plan on talking about it in a separate post.
The keychain set has a lot of varieties, including elephant, ladybug, and scottish terrier. Each set comes with a keychain and a cell phone charm.
Finally, the discounted Lucio Men’s Clutch is a great find if you are looking for a clutch and you know that you will probably soon personalize your clutch in a similar fashion. Thank our QC department for this opportunity.
At Marcopoloni, we are always looking for handmade, traditional products from planet Earth. In the spirit of exploration and discovery our research lead us to a fascinating centuries-old Japanese tradition of Koito Pottery. What made this tradition interesting is the fact that most of the artists in this craft work in small, family-owned workshops that pour their dedication and experience into their products. Also, Koito Pottery is beautiful and very unique and seems to fit well with the uniqueness of Marcopoloni products, so, next week we are going to Japan to meet a number of potential new suppliers and get to learn about them and how they make their products.
Koito Pottery is produced in the the alpine Chobu region, in the city of Takayama. Takayama is a beautiful mountain town with a very high number of traditional Japanese homes. We will be gone for two weeks and I look forward to posting updates with pictures of the pottery and the surroundings!
Yesterday morning I got to talk to Gianni. Besides talking about his upcoming vacation on the Aeolian Islands, our next trip to Japan, and a few details about our orders, I was pleased to hear that the Leather Roses product line introduced last summer has found favor among customers worldwide.
Demand has proven to be so high that he is really having to stay very focused about efficiency in production and has had to carefully manage the work assignments of all the artisans. The production process is quite unique and requires skill and experience so nothing can be left to chance or the number of orders waiting to be fulfilled will grow out of control.
I have gifted leather rose rings to a couple of female friends and they really like them. My wife, Emi, also wears one and I really am impressed by how good it looks. Even though our sales of leather roses took off faster than expected, I think that leather roses might just be the best kept secret in the United States!
I read a good article on the New York Times about how Murano Pursues a Renaissance by building new hotels because Venice has run out of room.
And that is pretty much where the good news ended. The rest of the article documented what I saw when I went to Murano in March. The Murano glass industry is on the verge of dying. The 9/11 attacks caused demand for Murano Glass to tumble. Demand never recovered and worsened with the financial crisis. In the last decade a third of murano glass makers have closed their doors.
When I went to Murano, I was so saddened by the obvious decline that I cried and resolved to do what I can to preserve this millenary piece of Italian pride and tradition.
After meeting Maestro Imperio Rossi, his family, and the other people working at the furnace, Maestro Mario Costantini and Mauro, I realized that Murano Glass is the product of experience and commitment by people who dedicated their life to the art. I think that their survival is in the hands of their immense creativity and skill–and that gives me real hope.
At Marcopoloni, our commitment is and will be to add more and more products by Maestri Imperio Rossi and Mario Costantini. If you are looking for something that you don’t find in our catalog, please let us explore whether it can be custom ordered.
Last week we made considerable progress with our Permalinks project. A permalink is a user friendly URL (web address) that actually means something to a human. For example, instead of pointing to the SANTARELLI briefcase (my favorite) using a link that means absolutely nothing, the new link is http://www.marcopoloni.com/SANTARELLI-rugged-leather-briefcase.htm, which is a lot more readable.
We also created a friendly 404 error page. That is the “File Not Found” page that is displayed when a user tries to load a page that does not exist either due to an old bookmark, a bad link, or typing the wrong address. The page has alerted us that some search engines are still sending traffic to pages that we thought we had retired in 2004 or 2005! The good thing for our customers is that if they run into it, they will now know what is happening and will be able to continue browsing our web site.
Today we added a Men’s handbag to our lineup. The UOMO Italian leather handbag for men is handcrafted by Giudi in their signature classy style. We have added this bag because of how practical and distinct it is–something that many of our customers are demanding. The UOMO joins the LUCIO by Dionigi in the handbags for men section of the Marcopoloni catalog.
When someone first said to me: “You are what you eat” it made a lot of sense, but I did not know that it would become part of a belief set that affects so many of my decisions today. As I grew past my twenties, I started realizing that I couldn’t eat whatever I wanted: junk food and excessive quantities of sweets and snacks is not what bodies are made of. Soon, I extended that realization to everything we ingest, breathe, and even come in contact with.
The feeling I get is that we are marketed things that are cheap for us and profitable for someone. So we end up consuming things that are cheaper and cheaper, and lower and lower in quality. This is not comforting when it comes to what defines our very essence and that is why I decided that only when you know what goes in it you really know what you get out of it. I defined the difference as the difference between “canned-made versus handmade.”
Whenever I can, I opt for handmade and enjoy the rewards for the extra effort. At home, I have become a passionate cook, with an eye for carefully selected ingredients. At work, I carefully choose the artisans from whom we buy the products we offer, and I enjoy their lasting quality and special feel.
From today until Monday morning Marcopoloni’s Facebook fans can participate in a contest for a chance to win a Snaplink Keychain.
Check it out! With a small fan base, we are keeping questions for our contests very simple and do not expect more than a couple of people to respond. This means that if you do respond, your chances of winning are quite high.