Michael Tonello is the author of Bringing Home the Birkin: My Life in Hot Pursuit of the World’s Most Coveted Handbag (Morrow), a whirlwind account of the years he spent globetrotting and gaming the Hermès system to buy and resell hundreds of these impossible-to-get handbags on eBay. He is a writer and columnist for The Huffington Post, where his weekly column on style, fashion, and trends appears on the “Living Now” page. At his speaking engagements, he shares his fascinating experiences with a wide array of audiences, but particularly with the people who formerly were his biggest clients: the world’s elite socialites and fashionistas. He is the perfect speaker for anyone interested in uncovering the veil of the fashion world, or learning more about how to turn an expertise in eBay into a career. His quick-witted (and often self-directed) sense of humor is tempered well by his unmistakably effective “everyman” brand of business acumen. Tonello has more than just the ability to entertain: he has an entrepreneurial success story, one that would interest anyone from a corporate CEO to a second-year business school student.
Tonello grew up in Massachusetts, amidst the windswept dunes and ever-encroaching tourism of Cape Cod. He attended New York City’s Fordham University for almost a full day, before beginning an ambitious field study of New York socialites in their native nightlife habitats. A few months later, armed with a vast array of discotheque expertise, (but no longer possessed of parental financial support), he made his way out to San Francisco. The West coast would be his home for five years, and the start of his career in hair and makeup. Eventually co-founding a successful company, an innovative advertising collaborative called TEAM, Tonello returned to his native Massachusetts, settling into the artists’ colony of Provincetown.
A chance job assignment in Spain would prove fateful and Tonello went from P-townie to expatriate in a flash, resettling in Barcelona, which is where Bringing Home the Birkin begins. Pressed to find a profession that didn’t necessitate working papers, he turned in his make-up bag for a laptop. Quickly finding his niche as an eBay luxury reseller, he soon after began his lucrative relationship with all things Hermès.
After more than 20 years, the iconic Birkin remains the ultimate status symbol and probably the most coveted accessory of all time. Tonello currently resides in Barcelona, Spain.
Praise for Bringing Home the Birkin:
“Funny, whip-smart… Both a hilarious raid on fashion’s strongholds and a memoir that satisfies like a novel. Fashion diehards, and many others, will be delighted from beginning to end.”
– Publishers Weekly
“The one-step, one-stop shop guide to buying a Birkin.”
– Arianna Huffington, Huffington Post
“[Tonello] reveals the key to scoring that Holy Grail of handbags in a clever memoir.”
– Boston Herald
“This summer’s most adorable chick-lit book… It’s smart. It’s fizzy. It’s amusingly snarky, with attitude to burn.”
– New York Times
“In his peppy, addictive memoir…[Tonello] details the comical lengths to which he’s gone to snag hundreds of Birkins that he then sells (with a steep mark-up) on eBay.”
“The perfect, fluffy and fun beach read.”
“A witty and engaging retrospective on [Tonello’s] long career traipsing the globe as a purveyor of the Birkin bag.”
– Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“[A] sunny memoir…The prose is vivid, the tone lighthearted. Mr. Tonello comes off as the fantasy gay best friend immortalized in contemporary women’s fiction: sassy, plucky, optimistic – oh, and he can get you a Birkin.”
– Wall Street Journal
“[A] memoir of…madcap travels, triumphs and humiliations. [Tonello] peels back the layers of pretension at the eminent design house…Anyone who’s ever stepped into a luxury boutique and felt the sting of the doorman’s disapproval will find a hero in Tonello.”
– Miami Herald
“Tonello recounts the strange and serendipitous tale of how he went from cleaning out his closet to being one of the busiest Internet resellers of Birkin bags in the world.”
– The Globe and Mail
“Fascinating…The sassy and resourceful Tonello built a very lucrative eBay resale business from his apartment specializing in Hermès scarves and the French luxury purveyor’s highly desired Birkin bag. It’s hard not to be swept up in his delightful one-man Birkin Brigades.”
– Minneapolis Star Tribune