I Am Back, or at Least I Should Be

I have not blogged in a very long time. But, since I decided to seek a contract position as a software developer, I have been extremely focused on that and it involved a lot of preparation. After I got MongoDB Developer certification and after I completed my study of Node.js, I was ready to interview.

In Silicon Valley there is an over-abundance of programming jobs, and I was lucky to have a lot of opportunities. Ultimately, Cisco Systems turned out to be the best match and that is where I have been since the middle of August.

Cisco is on the other side of town and I am lucky to live close to the light rail that drops me off right in front of my Cisco building. So I have a solid 45 minutes each way to tend to business, whether it be personal, Marcopoloni, or Cisco. So today, after almost two months into my new routine, I decided to return to writing, hopefully on a more regular basis.

So life is a lot more hectic now and I don’t have as much direct contact with all the beautiful creations that we bring in. But Marcopoloni is also my essence (not just Emi’s) and I want to remain close to it.

You might be able to imagine that I have adorned my cubicle with Marcopoloni ware. As I go to work every day I always have an Antartidee desk clock on my desk, along with my Murano glass tumbler and my Kissa Koito pottery cappuccino cup. The computer goes in a Santarelli briefcase, I always use my Snaplink keychain, my Nicola, and a belt from either Dionigi or Campomaggi.
Today I am also wearing my Stupendo ankle boots and my Maledetti Toscani leather jacket. I am surrounded by Marcopoloni stuff and rightfully so: I love it. But when I get to work I stand out like a sore thumb. Not in a good or bad way: people have different interests, at least on the surface. There are people who love Italian wine, people who roast their own coffee, people who bike to work, and people who have their lunch delivered through Uber: all things that I am glad to share.

I am missing a decent wall hook. A hook that hangs from the cubicle partitions would make me very happy. I would use two: one for my bag and one for my coat. I will ask our friends at Antartidee because you never know, it might have a market.

There you have it. This is how I am rolling right now. I still keep in touch with my customers so feel free to drop me an e-mail!

Campomaggi in Via Della Spiga Is A Big Deal

If Via della Spiga means nothing to you let me explain why it is such a big deal for me.

Yesterday, Campomaggi announced that they will open their flagship store in Via della Spiga, 5 in Milano tomorrow. Although I had heard the rumors before now it is official and it is happening for real.

Prodotto Artigianale on The Label

“Prodotto Artigianale” on the Campomaggi label means “artisanal product”. Back in the Eighties, when Marco Campomaggi was making his first bags by hand, I was witnessing the concentration of fashion, style, and luxury in Via della Spiga. That is also when I witnessed the difference between industrial pret-a-porter products and artisanal one-of-a-kind creations: a difference that I now label as the difference between canned-made and handmade. Campomaggi values a product that is handmade to the point that he has ensured the uniqueness of each item is enhanced by his patented distressing processes. If you look at the label, it wants to tell you that his unique soul, rooted in his past, has created each item… artisanally.

Milan Wasn’t Always The Capital of Fashion

Italy always created wonderful artisanal products, and Milan already had luxurious shops in Via Montenapoleone and other medieval streets next to Via della Spiga. But it wasn’t until the seventies and eighties that Italian fashion designers created world-renowned brands that made Italy the place to go for certain styles. That is when Milan became an amazing shopping destination, offering all the best brands in the Quadrilatero della Moda (Fashion’s Rectangle–referring to the area around Via Montenapoleone and Via della Spiga).

The Rise of The Artisanal Brand

Not all brands were huge powerhouses like Luis Vuitton and Prada. Besides a few of the historical stores, like a butcher, that have survived in the area, some alternative brands also started finding success, especially in Via della Spiga: Fabiana Filippi, Brunello Cuccinelli (which had two stores and Campomaggi is replacing one of the two) celebrate their artisanal roots as the source of their value. Campomaggi fits very well on this stage and the stage will help spread the word about how we need more style that is unique to each one of us.

This is what Marcopoloni is trying to bring to you: a unique style based on superb artisanship coupled with a personalized service so that you can get exactly what is right for you. It is easy to get started: just get to know Emi or me with a quick e-mail about what you wish to do. We’ll personally help you from there.

Happy 12th Birthday Marcopoloni!

Another year has passed and it is fun to think about how much things have changed. A year ago Marco was still coming to the office three days a week, we hadn’t begun redesigning our Web site, and we hadn’t yet conceived our Campomaggi report that is so fun to read.

Now our home page begins to tell our story and that of our artisans, we communicate with our customers about the developments that interest them the most, and we are making progress on some significant projects. At present, we are transitioning our accounting system to QuickBooks Online and are integrating it with our website through their API.

Streamlining our accounting processes is expected to free up time that we can devote to our artisans–something that is sorely needed. In the last twelve months, in fact, we have added three artisans, but could not devote enough time to tell you all about them. I wonder if anyone out there could even name all three of them. That is one of the things I hope to be able to change this year.

Over the next twelve months there are lots of things that I want to do. I want to figure out ways to make the excellence of our artisans more palpable. To achieve that I plan on sharing more pages that include videos of our artisans and their products. I want to also show bigger pictures and answer more questions. Behind the scenes I will develop systems for better serving you. The list of ideas is so long that it almost feels daunting. But we know that by chipping away at these lists things actually improve and that is what you should expect.

Finally, we plan on being as responsive to you as ever and encourage you to contact us. Also, to stay up to date with our progress, sign up to our newsletter. We only send out up to 6 every year and do not sell e-mail addresses.



Why People Love This Braided Leather Key Chain

GIAMAICANO Braided Italian Leather Key Chain
GIAMAICANO Braided Italian Leather Key Chain
The most stylish Italian key chain with a convenient clip and two key rings in different sizes.

The Giamaicano is Marcopoloni’s second best-selling key chain of all time. Why do people love this braided leather keychain? They love it because its stylish design and quality leather make it attractive, fun, and practical. After talking to some of our many customers who appreciated it, I gather that the beauty of the leather and the clip stand out against most key chains. Even its relatively large size is a plus for people who otherwise struggle to find their keys in a large bag. In addition, many bags now come with D rings for key chains that can clip onto them. This is a key chain that marries great with that feature.

The Giamaicano is a Marcopoloni exclusive: you won’t find this on Amazon. We do post a lot of our key chains for sale on Amazon but not the Giamaicano because it is so successful and it does not need the help of the world’s largest marketplace. Just know that you will find it in what is, in my opinion, the world’s best curated catalog–Marcopoloni.

You probably heard me say this before: Gianni’s leather is the best vacchetta leather you can find. The owners of the concerie who sell their leather to the top shoe and bag brands in Italy routinely mock Gianni for using such good leather for his key chains. I am sure that you can understand what when your life-long passion is involved, you don’t want cheap ingredient: you strive to make the best–something that you can be really proud of.

We are also very proud to have found Gianni and his wonderful creations. We love his work and stand by it with a one-year parts and labor warranty.

One Thing Is Better Than Two

I was walking at the mall while Chiara was attending a birthday party and I saw a sign outside of a restaurant that said: “TWO THINGS ARE BETTER THAN ONE”.

Really?

I don’t think so.

But that is the marketing logic that we have come to accept. Yet, I think, it should be challenged.

When it comes to food, could it be that one dish with finer ingredients is better than two dishes made with cheaper ingredients or less skillfully prepared? By following this train of thought I realize that pretty much everything we consume faces a trade off between quality and quantity–and quantity is not necessarily always the winner.

On the other hand, I am not sure that quality is necessarily always the winner either. But it does seem to be the winner when it comes to the artisanal products that we sell at Marcopoloni.

So my point is not that quality is always better than quantity but it is just as valiant a competitor in the fight, especially for things that are so important to us like food. That is why I was so moved by that sign: because we are what we eat and we should carefully evaluate the food that we intake.

We had an experience that somewhat makes this point. When we went to a wedding in Japan Emi bought a pair of shoes that were suitable to wear with her dress and looked nice. But we had to walk to the reception and we watched these shoes come apart and Emi’s feet scream for something comfortable. After the reception, the first thing we did was get a pair of traditional Japanese wooden flip flops and happiness was restored.

That experience seems to repeat itself when we choose to buy something cheap. Again, I think of shoes, Chiara’s shoes in this case. How many pairs of supposedly decent shoes have we bought that didn’t event last her a season? I upgraded her to Maledetti Toscani shoes and she is outgrowing them, finally! Now the problem is that Marco is not really going to be into girlie shoes, will he?

Do you embrace quality of quantity at least some of the times? We think it is worth it.

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: http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_26509143/campbells-marcopoloni-supports-artisan-craft

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.

You Guys Are Still The Best Customer Service

Daniele and a Santarelli Leather Briefcase

Today I got an e-mail that said: “you guys are still the best… customer service, literally like calling a friend and then of course you sell the most awesome bags!”–I couldn’t ask for a better e-mail to start my Friday. It embodies exactly what we are trying to do: treat everyone like we would treat the people that are important in our lives because our customers are important in our lives. And the other part, “the most awesome bags” is a tribute to the artisans that we seek to support. They do really amazing work.

Emi and I try to focus our efforts on customer service a lot. We try to do it because we think that customer service is the most important business function. This is where we get to know customers and develop long term relationships. Although customer service means dealing with all the headaches, if we weren’t the ones dealing with them how would we ever find out about the pain and joys that our customers experience?

So here is a little bit about one of the people who started Marcopoloni and, ten years later, is here to address your needs. I, Daniele, love computer programming, but dealing with problems that don’t have very easy solutions has really helped me think outside the box. Here is a photo of me trying to market products without a marketing budget:

Daniele and a Santarelli Leather Briefcase
This shot was taken in January. It is Daniele and a Santarelli that he likes so much.

Can you recognize the bag? Since we now show every Santarelli leather briefcase that we have in stock, if you can identify the exact bag that I am holding I will give you a big discount on that very bag. That’s if it is still available, of course.

A New Campomaggi Collection Is Arriving

The Spring/Summer 2014 collection has shipped from Campomaggi this week and we should receive it early next week, just in time for spring to arrive, which seems a more appropriate time to introduce a spring collection than, say, December.

As always, we think that we have focused on the good stuff–bags and accessories that we will be happy to stock for years. If you are a fan, prepare to have access to some wonderful Campomaggi bags with the Marcopoloni service attached. If what I just said means nothing to you, then you might be missing out on an experience. We believe that you cannot sell one-of-a-kind bags as if they were manufactured products that sit in boxes on a shelf.

So we are gearing up to present each individual bag so that you can choose the ones that you like best. This is a lot of work but it stimulates a discussion with our customers that ultimately results in our customers feeling more special and liking their bags even more.

Wow! I got my work cut out and so does Emi… Better get to work!

Not enough cash upfront? Bill Me Later!

How many times have you gone shopping on Marcopoloni.com when you come across THE perfect thing for you but you can’t quite afford it in full? Well, if you are a PayPal user, there is a program called Bill Me Later. How it essentially works is, you get a credit line approved by Comenity Capital Bank through PayPal and this all happens in merely seconds! Once you are approved, on orders $99 or more, you can make payments accordingly through your PayPal account over the course of six months. A huge benefit of the Bill Me Later program is that there are no annual fees and the only requirement is to have a PayPal account, which is absolutely free. Also, Bill Me Later often has promotional financing and offers available such as no interest periods and more. So, because Marcopoloni offers the PayPal method of payment, Bill Me Later will be available when your account gets approved! Keep in mind this option is only available for purchases of $99 or more. Take a look at the FAQs for more details and to enroll if you are interested!

 

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