Known for his luxury, lifestyle brand of everyday essentials, international designer Michael Louis Maddaloni explains how his dream came to fruition.
Q: While working for your father’s jewelry store in Long Island, you gained plenty of experience with marketing and sales at a young age. Can you provide more detail on how you aided in those sectors for your father’s business?
A: I started with marketing my father’s jewelry and watches at Maddaloni Jewelers via social media. I became very skilled in creating high-quality images accompanied by detailed professional verbiage, which is necessary for a luxury item. I did this every day for two years. Some days I posted two to three times a day. After around one to two thousand posts later I was a pro. This marketing tactic was utilized with my brand.
Q: What do you believe separated you from other entrepreneurs? What was your original inspiration to create the Michael Louis brand?
A: I work harder, I believe in myself, and I am doing what I love. I call this the three pillar combo.
Q: While in college, you began creating a fashion-based target audience using social platforms. Can you explain your process and why you felt Instagram would be a good marketing tool for expanding your brand?
A: I was speaking directly to my audience about what I love and who I am. I was very personal and open with my audience. My devoted followers have been with me through it all, starting with my first post on March 26th, 2012. They were following as I worked through college and helped my father’s jewelry store. My followers saw every marketing step I took, whether it was with product placements with celebrities or simply posting jewelry and watches to generate business from my father’s company. They even witnessed the release of my very own product in June 2014. My followers have seen the entire build-up of my brand. It has successfully branched out into its own identity on social media, @michaellouisny. It has become a community, and the open communication and awareness of how it all started were as organic as it gets.
Q: On June 9th, 2014, you sold your first product. Can you explain how that made you feel?
A: This moment ignited a feeling I will never forget. I was doing what I love, and I was going to continue doing it for the rest of my life. Starting this company was my destined path.
Q: After realizing your brand could be a success, how did you proceed to ensure this? Did you go full throttle with production?
A: I went full throttle with everything. Believe it or not, I was up until 3 a.m. every single night from the day I made my first sale to the next 300 – 400 days of my business. I Developed the entire brand, product line, staff, sourcing partners, artisans, website, packaging, marketing, social media, shipping partners, and much more (including each detail falling under each of those umbrellas). I wore every single hat, and that was a lot when a business starts from zero and has a lot of success right away, it all came at me full speed.
Q: What was your goal for the first year of sales? Did you hit the mark or exceed expectations?
A: The first year’s goal was $1 million in sales, and we did $1.4 million. It was an awesome feeling.
Q: As a founder of a luxury lifestyle brand, what is your mission for your company as a whole? What is your mission when it comes to pleasing clientele?
A: The mission is to continue to enjoy doing what I love and sharing that passion for quality, handcrafted, luxury goods with people around the world. When you have a Michael Louis product, you become a part of the family. Once a customer experiences the level of quality our products bear, they can then appreciate the detail and level of attention given to that very piece they are holding. The customers of Michael Louis are my family, and the mission to grow it continues.
Q: Knowing customer satisfaction is a huge part of the longevity for your company, can you explain how you ensure this? What modifications have you made to products based on customer feedback?
A: We have made many changes to satisfy our customers. We have provided more protection while keeping our cases as thin as possible. We made larger cardholders since the majority of cardholders in the market are too small and can barely hold cards and cash, but we guarantee no distortion or stretch over time. We added customization options, including usage of emojis, three to six characters, and of course, a wide selection of colors. Our ears are open to our customers. Our customers are our feedback channels. We listen carefully and internally discuss 100% of the feedback received, and if the input aligns without brainstorming and vision, we will make the changes. Our customers are the spark for much of our brand’s development.
Q: How does your company guarantee expression, quality, and craftsmanship? Knowing that everything is handcrafted, can you explain the overall process of production, especially inspiration for the selection of materials and design?
A: Expression is a huge part of the brand, and I used my expression through the entire creation of Michael Louis. I want to offer that same experience and feeling to my customers. Through a highly detailed and sophisticated virtual customization feature on our site michaellouis.com, we can allow our customers to completely express themselves and personalize their cases and about 90% of my other products. First, customers select their favorite product style and leather type. They are then able to add customization by using up to six letters, numbers, and symbols, or they can choose from the 25 available emojis. Next, customers can pick from a variety of five different colors. Through this hand-selected process, personal expression is accomplished.
Quality is something I stand for. I do not play around when it comes to quality. I ensure the products I produce are of the highest standard possible by utilizing the finest materials available.
Craftsmanship is tied to quality, as the process of our production is very systematized in an ultra-clean environment. My team acts as if we are handling VVS or IF quality diamonds. Every part is thought out and carefully handled and organized. Our artisans work Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. with a 1.5-hour lunch break. They spend double the amount of time to produce each unit in comparison to many other similar brands. We ensure each product is handmade with the highest level of attention to detail.
Q: What motivates you to continue designing?
A: I love the complete process, which is why it is a never-ending love and passion of mine. The passion for creating is constant, as well as the process of creating something I truly enjoy. Once my pieces are completed, seeing others enjoy and style the pieces in their own way is an amazing feeling for me.
Q: How has Michael Louis expanded over the years?
A: The brand has expanded in every way possible. Michael Louis has a higher experience and sophisticated way of sourcing our materials and leathers. The level of expertise gained from our artisans over time has grown. Our content became more targeted to the Michael Louis personality by becoming extremely clean and minimal. We are more aligned with our customers and who we are reaching. Even the site and online experience became very structured and precise on the detail and image we wish to portray. Every single day there is growth in an area of the business. The brand’s eighth birthday is on March 26th, 2020, and we will continue to grow stronger and wiser while implementing development and change.
Q: What can Michael Louis customers expect in 2020?
A: Michael Louis customers can expect the highest level of customer service and shipping experiences. We recently partnered with FedEx to offer order arrival anywhere in the world within one to five days, with processed tracking available. This will truly be the most efficient and speedy experience an online consumer can receive.