In 2012, four friends – Matt Montemurro, Andrew Coelho, Ron Scarafile, and Nicholas Wiktorczyk – found themselves the unlikely founders of a luxury accessories company.
It all started with one question: “Why can’t I find a stylish weekender bag that’s not ‘fast fashion’ and not exorbitantly expensive either?” The answer, they decided, was to create their own. And that’s how monte & coe was born. Since then, their proudly Canadian company has expanded its product line to include briefcases, backpacks and travel accessories.
As a proud supporter of entrepreneurship in Canada and around the world, INFINITI Motor Company immediately saw parallels between the design, craftsmanship, and innovation that drive monte & coe’s founders and the automaker’s all-new QX50 luxury crossover.
After they got to spend some time with them, we sat down with monte & coe’s founders to discuss what makes a quality product, what today’s consumers expect and how brands like theirs and INFINITI Canada are changing the rules of luxury.
Since 2012, monte & coe has emerged as a Canadian designer brand on the rise. What is your dream for monte & coe?
monte & coe as a brand has done a good job of being a mainstay in the Toronto market. Our customers are here and appreciate our quality. Our mission is to grow the brand while staying true to our core values – making products crafted in Canada, using the finest raw materials and maintaining our entry to luxury price points. These are values that we established when we started and we plan on staying true to them while we scale and grow into a globally recognized brand.
As young entrepreneurs, m&c started because you recognized a gap in the luxury accessory market. Tell us about the process of discovering this and how you took steps to fill that gap?
In 2012, we had just graduated from university and we started to travel more frequently. We saw the types of products that were currently in the market and were exhausted with the same leather and canvas products that overwhelmed it. At the time, there were super luxury brands like Louis Vuitton and Gucci and on the other side of the spectrum, there were fast fashion brands like H&M, which were more for the look, but not necessarily built to last. We decided to go out on a limb and created our own version to fill the gap we saw. We just thought let’s test this out – let’s design and build our own bag that we know we are going to love. It was very important to us for our products to be made here in Canada. At the time, there were no other brands doing that. We wanted to create a unique product that was not only different aesthetically, but quality-wise as well. We wanted to allow our customers to have both – something that was missing in the market.
Similar to m&c, INFINITI is breaking preconceived notions of luxury with their all-new QX50 luxury crossover. How do you think the brand is doing this in the luxury automotive market?
There are a lot of similarities between our two companies. For one, we’re both known for our dedication to craftsmanship and artistry in our products. And we learned that the chief global designer for INFINITI is Canadian like us! Another example that stands out is the QX50’s VC-Turbo engine, which I’d compare to the monte & coe Weekender bag for its simple, yet ingenious designIt’s like having two engines in one. For the first time, INFINITI is giving consumers the option to have it all instead of having to make trade-offs between performance and efficiency. INFINITI has done this extremely well while also maintaining that richness and luxurious feel they are known for. When you sit in the car, it feels luxe but also completely comfortable. We found the QX50 to be luxurious without the elitist feel. It’s down-to-earth and approachable.
M&C and INFINITI are both focused on inviting millennials into their brand. What opportunities do you see with millennials?
A huge opportunity with millennials is that they pay attention to the types of products they use. They care about how things are made, what materials are used and the process from beginning to end. They also pay attention to how they spend their money. I think this is great for companies like monte & coe and INFINITI. When the consumer knows that the brand pays attention to every facet of the experience like the quality of the materials, human-centric design or an accessible price point, they trust we aren’t trying to make an elitist product. Millennials see the price tag, but they also understand the value and can get behind the brand.
After driving the QX50, in your opinion, how does it meet your standards?
We all loved various features of the QX50 for different reasons. The vehicle is aesthetically pleasing both inside and out. On the inside, you have materials like suede, leather, and open-pore maplewood. Knowing that there are real materials used, you don’t have to worry about getting in the car with your boots on or taking your dog to the park. It is durable and can withstand day-to-day activities. There is so much space in the car so, as a team, we use it to haul rolls of material to our manufacturer. It has a feeling of utility and allows you to use it for anything you might be doing.
Features like the Head-Up Display (HUD), tells you your speed so you don’t have to look away from the windshield. Overall, it combines luxury, practically and utility into one vehicle.
As millennials and also entrepreneurs, how do you think INFINITI is making your life easier with the new QX50?
The little things as an entrepreneur matter the most – you have enough to worry about and the all-new QX50 streamlines the driving experience in the utmost thoughtful way. It allows us to focus on our business with features and details that take care of the rest. It’s fuel-efficient so it keeps money in our pockets. When the car in front of you slows down, it slows down. When you fill up the tires with air, the car actually honks when it reaches the correct pressure. It not only helps us run our business day-to-day, but it’s also extremely safe so you feel at ease having family or loved ones in the car.
What does INFINITI’s perspective that “Luxury Should Be Lived In” mean to you and how have you applied it to your business?
The term “luxury should be lived in” really means that INFINITI makes products that are practical, durable and high-quality. At its core, it means don’t invest your money in something if you aren’t going to fully use it because you are afraid of damaging it, or if it’s not going to last long. The mentality behind it, in essence, encourages people to take that product off the shelf and use it the way it’s meant to be used. This mentality completely lines up with monte & coe’s mantra, “Carry Us With You.” We 100% expect you to use our product day in and day out. Whether you are commuting to work, bringing it to the gym, using it on your vacation, it’s meant to be used. We design and build our products for people to get the most use and value out of them and this aligns with what INFINITI is doing with the QX50. It’s not just a vehicle that gets you from point A to B but is integrated into your day-to-day.