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Margherita di Spine
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Listen in 31 min.
Learn the key ideas of the book by Matteo Cambi , Gabriele Parpiglia

Margherita di Spine

The story of Matteo Cambi, the creator of the brand GURU

What is the story that lies behind the success of a young brand that is accessible to everyone, like GURU? And what can destroy it in just a few years, leaving its founder millions of euros in debt and even landing them in prison? Matteo Cambi, the key player in the rapid rise and fall of the most famous daisy in Italy, will tell us, in his book Margherita di Spine. Ascesa e caduta dell'inventore di GURU, which he wrote with his friend and journalist, Gabriele Parpiglia.

Margherita di Spine
Read in 25 min.
Listen in 31 min.

The simplicity of an idea can be the foundation on which to build a brand

Sometimes, behind a successful enterprise can hide the simplest of ideas, the intuition that even with finite resources, fresh ideas have the power to earn a vast following, especially when, as was the case with the GURU brand, the target audience for this enterprise is mostly made up of young people.

It is back to the very concept of simplicity, immediacy and freshness that we can trace both the foundation and the success of the fashion brand GURU.

Founded in 1999 by a young Matteo Cambi, the brand became easily identifiable by the symbol of a six petal stylised daisy and used an extremely simple approach to communicate and be accessible to a vast audience, with its primary focus on young people.

A wave of inspiration had struck its founder, after he had finished his Masters in Communication in America and during which he studied the success of some top fashion brands on both sides of the Atlantic, such as Abercrombie, Diesel and Replay. When analysing these brands, Cambi realised that he wanted to follow in their footsteps, by creating a brand that exploited the same strengths as those he had studied, and in order to do so, certain key components had to be included in his future project:

  • A simple name, that was easy to remember and immediately recognisable.
  • Clothes with a young style that are easy to wear.
  • Taking comfort into consideration, without neglecting the trend factor.

Starting with these characteristics, Matteo Cambi and his first partner Gian Maria Montacchini, decided to create something new. The final idea came to them from the Italian brand Pickwick, which Gian Maria was already selling in his five shops and which had shown him that even simple t-shirts with a symbol on them could be fashionable and popular with a young audience. While mulling over these ideas one evening over a pizza, the two young entrepreneurs ended up designing the symbol that was the beginning of their epic journey, a stylised daisy with six petals with the brand name of GURU. Even the name followed the simplicity rule that had set the standard for their project, and which Cambi had studied in other brands: GURU is direct, short and easy to remember. The next step came shortly afterwards, when they created a 50% limited company with an initial investment of 40 million Italian Lira (approximately €20,000), which Cambi had been given by his father on his 18th birthday. At this point, the two young entrepreneurs had no idea that the design they had on their hands would soon become one of the symbols of young Italian fashion, unexpectedly reaching such dizzy heights of success, and ending up ruining one of them.

The very basis of the GURU brand shows us how great things can begin with a simple idea, within everyone’s reach, such as a daisy drawn on a sheet of paper while eating a pizza. Of course, making this project a success requires much more than that, and the story that follows proves it.


The key ideas of "Margherita di Spine"

The simplicity of an idea can be the foundation on which to build a brand
The VIP mechanism can be used as a powerful alternative promotion technique
Using the VIP circuit is not enough: people need to see who is behind the brand
A great way to get noticed on national and international markets is to choose the right sponsors
Going out with showgirls gets Cambi lots of magazine covers
Addictions and an erratic lifestyle are the worst enemies of a successful project
An excessive lifestyle of unbridled luxury can bring even the strongest company to its knees
After a collapse there is always a rebirth
Take-home message
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