Meeting Bahadir from The Baharra Design Studio

Bahadir Alphan was a customer of ours first. When he got to experience our customer service he decided that we might be experienced enough to properly showcase his jewelry and contacted us to propose a collaboration. When we looked at his jewelry we were amazed. I said that I didn’t care for jewelry but this jewelry made me change my mind. The unique character of the handmade, one-of-a-kind pieces was so beautiful that I was moved. If I didn’t want to have jewelry before I wanted to have jewelry now because it fit with my style of unique, beautiful, and authentic wear. Emi was equally impressed so even though we never thought we would sell expensive jewelry we decided to explore the idea.

We decided to meet Bahadir and he flew over from New York last Saturday and spent two days with us and our kids. He patiently explained to us the difference between the value of mass produced jewelry, which relies on the value of the rocks and metals to determine the value of a piece, and handmade jewelry, in particular custom made jewelry, which has the gift recipient in mind from the very beginning and which is valued more by the skilled creativity of the jeweler.

Vintage Design Tulip Ring

Tulips are a Turkish flower, here they embody the strength of the Divan Room

Baha, as we now call him, brought samples for us to preview. We loved them and took them to the photography studio and Emi started taking pictures. We can’t wait to offer these to our customers. If as a company we strive to bring products by inspiring artisans, these certainly have the SOUL that we have been looking for. Each piece demonstrates design creativity and the willingness to painstakingly transform a design into a creation. The elements that can be customized by the customer ensure that if you are looking for the perfect gift you will be able to get Bahadir to design and create it in collaboration with you and us. Make sure to get to know Daniele and Emi, because those who do have access to our desire to help you in a personal way.

The Nicola And The iPhone 6

A belt pouch for the Note 3 and iPhone 6

The NICOLA seems designed for both the Note 3 and iPhone 6 Plus.

Earlier this year both Emi and I upgraded our phones to a Galaxy Note 3, which is huge. We love the big screen, pen, and features of the Note 3… and its huge screen. I was very happy carrying my Galaxy S2 in my DANIELE. After two years it had nicely stretched and the phone was easy to get in and out. Emi’s Note 3 fit in her GEMELLI or any other bag she owns. I had to solve the problem and I picked the NICOLA, the Campomaggi studded belt pouch, to do that.

I was already happy wearing a cool belt pouch, but I did worry that the Nicola, full with wallet and Note 3 would be too big. The bottom line is: I’ve worn it every day since July 1. That is approximately 120 days, if it was a pain I would have dropped it for a different solution by now.

After seeing the introduction of the iPhone 6 Plus, which is practically the exact same size as the Note 3, and the videos that showed people bending their phones because they kept it in their pockets, I realized that the NICOLA is a really viable solution for more people than just me. I think that it has many advantages: first, it allows quick and easy access to your phone, which means being able to take that photo or take your phone out of the pocket even while driving (so that your passenger can look up directions once you realize the restaurant is not exactly where you thought it was); second, it keeps the phone far away enough from your body that you don’t have to worry about being affected by it. I know that the studies say that phones have no impact on us, but I prefer to be safe than sorry; and, finally, it keeps your phone safe, even if you have a cell phone charm attached like I do.

There are drawbacks too, of course. I have had a few times when I felt that it was bulky, or that I brushed it against a wall or car door, and I have had to learn to deal with that. For the most part, though, the NICOLA is out of mind. I also don’t think that it can be worn with a suit as it has to hang on the front/side section of your belt and the coat would look horrific bulging out. In those situations the NICOLA becomes a bulky wallet that ends up in a bag, or it stays home altogether.

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!

The Campomaggi Fall/Winter 2014 Collection Has Classic Traits

Last month we received the Fall/Winter 2014 Campomaggi collection, which features a return to more classic Campomaggi inspired designs and a departure from the open tote in a seemingly infinite number of varieties that was starting to bore fans. What we received is very exciting and some of the models are certainly destined to become classics.

Out of all the new designs, the most interesting one features two columns of studs rising from the bottom of the bag and stopping where they meet the zipper of the front pocket. At the other side of the zipper begins the handle.

The C1666 PALMIERi

A square shoulder tote that can also be worn crossbody

The line presents the logo in the front, which is a departure from the classic logo on the back. The PALMIERI is one example of this. My feeling is that the decision to move it was prompted by customer requests.

Another cool design presents a vertical column of exotic studs that wraps around the bottom of the bag. Like the previous line the studs look solid and not ready to pop out and create headaches and definitely contribute to the rugged look of the famous Campomaggi distressed rugged-chic leather.

Campomaggi handbag

Shoulder bag with studded strap detailing and curled up leather.

This particular model, the PASEO, also features the “arricciature” style that uses leather that has been slightly folded together to give it a crumpled look. It is a nice detail that works well.

Two other new designs can be seen on the C1820 and C1764. The C1820 is a classic Campomaggi tablet bag, unusually small and welcome by those who don’t need to carry much any more. The C1764 features the “manette” (handcuffs) design feature: the shape of the bag and the feature make it very attractive.

At present, you can find these bags in the Just Landed section of the web site. As time flows they will be moved to the catalog.

Many of the older Campomaggi bags can be found on sale here on the Campomaggi Fall 2014 Clearance page. Use coupon code CM30FALL to get your discount.

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!

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

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!

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!

Maledetti Toscani

My first interview with Alessandro revolved around finding out more about Maledetti Toscani. Alessandro began by giving me a little bit of his family business’s history and then elaborated on how his family has, since 1848, defended the true made in Italy, which, he defines, is a label that should only be allowed when something is really entirely made in Italy (not somewhere else for the most part) and by a company legally operating in Italy who employs legal Italian workers.

Finding companies that embrace this philosophy has been extremely hard but it is a philosophy that matches ours completely. So we are elated to do business with Maledetti Toscani. The point may seem extremely simple. But it is not simple at all. Companies taking advantage of the fact that they can say something is made in Italy while it is mostly made in China, India, or Bangladesh are allowed to make false claims about their products. Since “Made in Italy” implies a certain type of skilled craftsmanship, environmental concern, and respect for worker rights, being able to apply the label while getting the product made somewhere where these aspects are bypassed means that the consumer is led to perceive something that is extremely far from the truth.

One of the pillars upon which we founded our company is authenticity. Authenticity is the word we use to also mean honesty and integrity. If we allowed anything that is not 100% made in Italy be described as being 100% made in Italy we would be breaking our promise to our customers and to ourselves: we would be straying from our beliefs for the sake of following the easiest road to profits. That is why we recognize that profits will only come for us when we have delighted our customers with integrity: so we treat profits as a byproduct of helping our customers be confident when they buy from Marcopoloni, not as a primary goal. I will talk about that in greater detail later, for now go check out some Maledetti Toscani shoes and watch this genuine video.

The Interview Sparked Some Thinking

Campbell Reporter Article

The Marcopoloni Team as captured by the Campbell Reporter photographer

When Allison Williams with the Campbell Reporter set a time to come and interview us, Emi and I realized that we needed to get a few points across very clearly. We figured that Allison would want to know what drives us to be in our business. We have been trying to clearly define our brand, which we interpret as the expression of what we are about, for years now and it is still definitely a work in process.

One message that we have tried to communicate since the very beginning is that we are trying to preserve the way of the artisan. Personally, I grew up in Italy with the fortune of visiting every region by the time I was a teenager. In the process I drove through so many places and saw so many artisans at work and small shops creating wonderful goods that I feel that this artisanship is the fabric of the Italian way of life. When Italians don’t cut corners, the results are amazing. I expanded the saying “you are what you eat” with “and drink, breathe, and wear” because I really think that everything we experience affects our well being and I believe that it is worth it to make those experiences the best they can be.

That Italian way of life that gives us so many wonderful experiences is under the pressure of greed. When we figured out that there was money to be made by selling imitations that are the result of cutting corners at every corner, everybody started doing it. This has caused a great number of artisans to lose their jobs and the number of young apprentices to drop. I think that this is short-sighted because if we lose our artisanship we lose that artistic flair that got us here.

Allison did a very good just to capture our feelings. Read the full article here:

Three Months with My First Pair of Maledetti Toscani Shoes

In my previous reviews about the TOSTA Silver Leather Sneakers I talked about how much I fell in love with them. Now that I have had them for three months I am starting to get to know them a little better. One thing is for sure, I like to wear them with long jeans so I did not bring them to Italy where I was expecting it to be really hot, and I couldn’t wear them here in San Jose when it was pretty hot until the middle of August. By the time the weather cooled just a little bit I was really anxious to wear them again. I do not know how to express this but my feet were longing for the time I would be able to wear them: they’re just absolutely in love with these shoes.

After three months of use I am starting to get to know them and here are my impressions. It took a little while for the shoes to break in at the beginning: they felt a bit stiff, but that is normal in new shoes and part of if was caused by me tying my laces too tightly. Figuring out exactly how tight to tie them took a little while. If they are too tight it will hurt your ankle and if they are too loose they will easily come undone. Part of the fear of tying them comes from the silver dust that you generate when you tie your shoes during the first few days of use. By now I expected all of the silver to be gone from the the top of my laces but it looks like some of it will stay–enough to still look silver and not completely brown.

Yesterday I walked for more than two hours with them because I took Marco along to get the car serviced and then we went for a really long walk while we waited. That was after we had taken another walk to the park in the morning. I think that because the weather was cooler, it didn’t reach 80 degrees, I didn’t get hot and uncomfortable so I didn’t get tired at all. I felt that my Maledetti Toscani shoes were broken in and fit perfectly snug.

Ultimately, the reason why I love my TOSTA Silver Leather Sneakers is that I believe they look great on me when I wear my distressed gray jeans. Feeling like you are wearing something cool is priceless.