Marco Polo Style is a small, family owned business based in the suburbs of New York City with operations in New York and Mongolia. Our unique, handcrafted bedding and apparel blends the best of luxury fiber, unique designs and affordable quality products. Our designs and apparel are produced by select mills in Mongolia, and our business model and mission support sustainable and ecologically responsible production and promotion of both the cashmere and yakdown apparel markets.
Indeed, we are pushing the development of yakdown as a natural 'Royal' fiber in it's own right, as a more ecologically viable alternative to cashmere. See our Mission Statement for more information on that.
Yak is a durable and lightweight fiber that preserves the skin’s heat in the winter yet breathes in warmer weather. Yak yarn is odorless, does not shed and maintains warmth even when wet. The yarn is non-allergenic and contains no animal oils or residue and is not itchy in the least. In April and May of each year, yak herders collect the “underbelly” hair or 'down'; the short, fine, soft undercoat or fine downy fiber that develops in the extreme cold of the Mongolian winter. The most common natural color of the Yak fiber is a dark chocolate brown, but they also can also have white, tan, and grey hair.
In a further effort toward sustainability, environmental responsibility and ethical markets, none of our products are made in China, though one of our partner mills uses silk sourced from China. The silk is 'Mulberry silk', which is superior to other silks due to it's uniformity in colour and texture and it is 100% natural, odorless and hypoallergenic. We are careful to ensure that none of the cashmere or yakdown we use comes from China, and all jobs throughout the production process are kept in Mongolia.
Western is our ‘Designer-in Residence’, guiding Marco Polo’s style direction, look-book and buying. She’s one of the best and we’re lucky to have her. As she says, “ Fashion is more than luxury. It’s pleasure, function and freedom to express who you are, all rolled up into one”. Western brings a wealth of experience from 20+ years in the fashion industry started in earnest with a BFA from Parsons the New School for Design. From there she went on to design for casual companies like Abercrombie and Fitch and for high end designers like Ralph Lauren and Derek Lamb. Western has also lived and worked in Berlin where she designed, oversaw production and reported on trends all over Europe, and has now landed in California’s Bay Area. “Working in so many areas of design has shown me that at the heart of everything I do is the desire to create human-centered design that is not only beautiful and functional but also has a positive impact”. We couldn’t agree more!
Jim Head is the founder, President and owner of Marco Polo Style.
Jim spent 18 years in Asia, working for MNCs with stints in Hong Kong, Beijing and Singapore and wound up his time in Asia selling satellite orbital management and air-defense software to friendly ministries of defense. Jim’s interest in cashmere and yakdown began after his wife introduced him to the luxurious fibers and the two became emboldened when they realized that a magic triad of market opportunity, quality and price could be brought together to make a viable business. With the support of the Mongolian side of the family (which as usual, is vast), the business began to enjoy sourcing advantages which made it even more viable.
Jim’s favorite part of the business is visiting business partners who have been carefully selected and are true partners, dedicated to helping us succeed. Jim's MNC training comes in handy, especially listening to those around him in terms of style and what works, and enjoys the challenge of sourcing the beautiful garments and bed-sets. When not working on this website, Jim drives his 7 year old son around, does the yard work and feeds the dogs.
Jim is also a USA Hockey certified coach and is a volunteer Mite coach in Connecticut.
Ms. N. Mandakh
Mandakh is an advisor for Marco Polo Style, helping us to understand the entirety of the ecological environment that our business and our suppliers operate in. Nyamtseren works for the Institute of Geography and Geoecology Mongolian Academy of Sciences in the capital Ulaan Baator.
She is a graduate of Irkutsk State University, Russian Federation,and has completed projects in land contamination management, soil, botany and sociology surveys in recent years and desertification mapping and assessment as part of the nation-wide assessment of desertification in Mongolia undertaken by the Ministry of Science. Mandakh has extensive experience with international collaboration of both state and NGO geographic, ecological and social surveys and projects, including the development of risk factors for the National Desertification survey undertaken in 2012.
Her key areas of research interest include environmental policy with special focus on ecosystem services, sustainable land management design, planning and implementation and remote sensing and spatial data analysis for environmental modelling and planning.
Mandakh is also a founding member of 'Eco-innovation and Development Center', an organization focused on geography, forestry and ecology issues in Mongolia. EIDC's mission is to support technology transfer to mitigate land degradation in Mongolia and to transfer sustainable land-management technologies within projects that develop, and result in, innovative policies regarding natural resource management (NRM). EIDC is undertaking a WOCAT (World Overview of Conservation Approaches and Technologies) initiative in Mongolia as a framework for this mission.
Odnoo Oyunbazar is a lawyer by training and applies her magic to this family project as needed, - managing quality control, chasing suppliers and even tagging and labeling. As a working professional women in Hong Kong, Singapore and now NYC, she thinks she has an eye for what is fashionable and is working to source unique designs that will have traction in the marketplace. We'll see. Odnoo's background includes environmental law (including a Master's at University of Oregon, yay Oregon!), and so we have an educated window into the issues that Marco Polo Style is concerned with in Mongolia: the sustainable use of Cashmere and the advancement of Yakdown as a viable alternative to mitigate grassland degradation in her home country. Odnoo enjoys cooking and makes great Horshor (but not as good as her mother's!).
Uugna Purev (AKA 'cousin Uugna') is an accountant by training and is perfectly suited for keeping schedules, verifying packing lists, quality control, managing shippers and the other cousins and sisters who step in to support us, from time to time, in Uulanbataar. Uugna is also an accomplished artist in her own right, and hand-makes straw and wicker baskets and boxes that have been featured at shows throughout Mongolia.