Why Made in the USA Matters (to me)

Posted by Elizabeth Williams on

If you are a person that seeks out Made in the USA goods, you could be doing this for a variety of reasons. You may want to promote and support your local economy, you may believe that US regulation ensure better working conditions and wages, or you may think that buying local reduces your carbon footprint.

And while I believe all of these points to be fantastic reasons, I wanted to share with you MY reasons for having my product sewn in the USA.

Having my products sewn in the USA has been important to me since the inception of this brand. In addition to wanting to ensure quality, oversee working conditions, and guarantee fair wages,

I want to preserve my craft.

Sewing is a skill that my grandmother taught my mother, and my mother taught me. And while neither my mother or grandmother were paid seamstresses, they used their skills in sewing to mend worn items, express their style, and advance their lives.

My grandmother came from humble beginnings. She was a fierce woman with a fighting spirit who always wanted more than I’ll what she had. In the 1950’s she set out to get her real estate license and established her own company. She made her own clothing and wore costume jewelry. She dressed for the life that she wanted, rather than the life that she lived. She combined fashion and self confidence with her drive for success and she achieved her goals.

In my lifetime

Sewing has always kept me employed. After college most of my 20’s were spent behind a sewing machine. I floated amongst local theatre productions to craft costumes for the stage. In between these gigs I would do on-site alterations for fashion photo shoots. In my thirties, I eventually worked as a designer for a major retailer. I was known for having a sewing machine on my desk (next to my computer) where I would mock up small samples of ideas. Back then, my drawing skills were pretty horrible so my sewn mock ups allowed me to express my ideas in a way that not everyone could do.

I took this technique with me when I later landed a job teaching at a local fashion design school. I taught my students to use sewing as a means of communication. My most fulfilling moments came while watching the spark in my students eyes as they learned the arts of sewing and pattern making. The endless possibilities made apparent in an instant by a quick demonstration. I've seen typically nervous and distracted students surrender their minds to peace and calm with repetitive hand stitches all evenly spaced and perfectly timed. Many of them commented on how nice it felt to just "unplug" and "make."

Recently however, that all came crashing down. In 2019 this same fashion school where I had been employed for ten years, changed their curriculum. The sewing and pattern making classes were reduced almost in half. The reason being that, “most fashion designers don’t know how to sew anyway!” and “so many of today’s sewn products are made overseas!” In short, the students time could be better spent working on how to communicate better with factories than in learning to sew themselves. Our school boasted these new changes in fashion publications across the country as the new 21st Century Curriculum for Fashion Design. To say that I disagreed with this method would be an understatement.

I left this job knowing that I would no longer be able to teach what I truly loved in a way that I thought mattered.

However, if there is one quality my grandmother passed to me, it is a fighting spirit. As a business owner, I pledge that my product will always be sewn in the USA. Being sewn in the USA, (to me) ensures that other women (and men) can have the opportunities that I have had here in this country. It ensures that my craft lives on in my home and that “students” in the future can still experience the therapeutic qualities that come with this art. It ensures that my craft does not go the way of archaic traditions or art forms that once were. It keeps my craft present in the here, now, and future.

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