My partner Matthew started his career creating watches for DKNY, Marc Jacobs, and other fashion lines (he’s award winning!). He created his own line of watches, producing entirely overseas. He got into over 80 stores, and was living the life. Except. For a large order, he had $40,000 worth of damaged goods. And no way to get his money back. So he started a 2nd company, producing entirely in America. In NYC to be exact. That’s when we met.
I started out my career doing tech research and automation at non-profits, then went to Google, then worked at Goldman Sachs. I quit my day job to join Matthew in his 2nd company creating leather goods. I will never forget the first time I went inside a factory. It felt like a mysterious world was being uncovered, or like I was stepping behind the curtain. I fell in love with how Matthew had built a local network of factories supporting each other, and how strong his relationships were with the factories. We even were invited to the wedding of the one of the factory owners!
The biggest setback we had in that company was that the process of finding a factory in the USA was really challenging. We were using the yellowpages, print catalogs, and cold calling factories. We wanted to continue to produce in the USA because–in addition to supporting American workers, creating jobs, and reducing your carbon footprint–working with a manufacturer in the US means that you have lower shipping costs, faster turnaround time, and the ability to find factories with low minimums.
We asked everyone we knew in the industry, and then we literally walked up and down the garment district in Manhattan and knocked on doors. We also purchased expensive handbooks, attended trade shows and searched multiple online directories. It would take months to find the right factory. Access to domestic manufacturing should not be this difficult.
So we came up with the idea to create an online resource of American factories; not only to help current designers and companies find the right factory, but to empower those with just an idea to begin creating their own products. And hopefully, to enable those producing overseas, to begin producing domestically. We want to break down the barriers to entry for those who want to manufacture items in the USA.
We have started the beginning stages of creating a useful tool for entrepreneurs, companies, and designers to find a American factories faster and more efficiently.
We have been working on this for months, day and night, and we know that this is just the beginning. We want every factory on Maker’s Row to have beautiful photography and informative videos, and we are working tirelessly towards our goal to help bring Made in America back.
Read Matthew’s story on producing overseas and then domestically here: Why I Switched to American Manufacturing and Never Looked Back