From their work with purpose-led start-up teams, BurdaPrincipal Investments have made some observations where social purpose provides start-ups with distinctive competitive advantages.
In 2017, Burda has invested in the Boston-based accessories startup M.Gemi. The direct-to-consumer brand delivers and sells handcrafted Italian leather shoes and has offices in Boston, New York and Florence, as well as storefronts in New York City’s Soho neighbourhood and Boston’s Prudential Center. Did you know that the whole success story started with a trip to Italy by one of the founders?
The story behind
M.Gemi was founded in March 2015 by CEO Ben Fischman, President Cheryl Kaplan and Chief Merchant Maria Gangemi, who is a longtime devotee of Italian craftsmanship and artistry. Growing up in Sicily, Maria developed strong relationships and learned the luxury footwear trade from the best in the business. Her passion, knowledge and experience come through in everything M.Gemi produces. The idea for M.Gemi started when Maria came back from a trip to Italy with handcrafted, limited-edition shoes that were only sold in local boutiques. M.Gemi is named after her.
With roots in Florence, M.Gemi partnered with the top family-owned factories, whose skills have been passed on generation after generation to produce both timeless and on-trend shoes that are uncompromised in their construction. M.Gemi brought the Italian model of shoemaking to the US.
New styles each week
Every Monday, M.Gemi releases new shoes – the customers love to shop new styles for the upcoming weekend. At the same time the design team has a lot of freedom: It allows them to react spontaneously on trends and create mini collections in special colours or materials.
“By working directly with Italy’s small family-owned workshops, we are able to deliver beautiful, luxury shoes at a cadence that has never been seen before, new drops every single Monday, and at prices that were historically impossible in the space.”
Cheryl Kaplan, M.Gemi's co-founder and president, in an interview with “Forbes”