Made in the USA. Really.

Does it seem to you that people are sincerely interested in products made in the US?

I think so.

I can cite any number of reasons why.  Certainly part of the solution to lifting ourselves out of the current economic pothole has to do with revitalizing our manufacturing sector.  There are political aspects to it, and definitely environmental considerations.

I never quite understood how it made sense to cut the cost of manufacturing a product in half by making it in China, only to put the product on a large 747 and fly it over here post-haste just to meet a Walmart deadline.  At the time, jet engine fuel was much cheaper and no one much considered the environmental impact.  But a lot has changed since then.

If you ask me, I think the change in sentiment has to do with one word: frustration.

Frustration with quality and frustration interacting with the company on problems, or even just getting product information.  Frustration is a cost I forecast when formulating my buying decision – it’s often not an issue of money, but rather the potential for a huge time-suck if I have to do something to get the thing to work right.

If I Were Queen

I always knew what I’d do if given the chance to create my own company.  So it was never a question when I started Zelda’s Song that the products would be made here in the US.

But it was more than a political statement.  I wanted a quality befitting the memory of my life with Zelda.  Nothing less would do.  And if I was to sell this to other dog moms, I wanted the focus to be how my product would honor their memory – not detract from it by failing to perform.

That’s why I decided to use two of the best national manufacturers in the leather and jewelry business: Auburn Leathercrafters in Auburn, NY (www.auburndirect.com) and C&J Finishing in Providence, RI.

It’s true that it’s not a perfect world, and the pursuit of perfection is an ongoing process.  But I am here to ensure that it’s not a frustration to my customers.  I have nearly every iDevice known to man (iPhone, iPad, iMac), and my customers can always reach me at sharon@zeldassong.com or 203.292.3845.  And yes, I do have an east coast accent, but I’m not that hard to understand.

Beware of Imitations

I don’t blame people for being skeptical about “Made in USA” claims.

Often it’s difficult to purchase product components – like fittings or fasteners – here in the US because those manufacturers are long gone.  Full disclosure – I do purchase the rivets for the collar ornaments in Canada.  That’s it, so I trounce the threshold set by trade show organizations for “Made in the USA” – which is made in the US with 80% of components also made in the US.

Back in my Fortune 500 days, the standard was a little clearer, as it was set by NAFTA and other international organizations.  But there’s a lot of chicanery outside of the global and national companies.

My guy in Providence showed me a shipment of jewelry pieces that were packaged with “Made in America” prominently featured on the hang-tag.  He was puzzled because they came to him from China, to be fixed with a little solder before being put out for sale.  I couldn’t tell him how someone could get away with that – that is, until the product completely fails.

#MadeinUSA

There are lots of resources on the web that can help you find really neat American companies producing cool products.  They even have promotions to help spread the word.

Probably the best way to find them is via Twitter, with the hastag #MadeinUSA.  But if you aren’t into Twitter, try these:

www.MadeinUSAChallenge.com
www.USALoveList.com
www.TheMadeinAmericaMovement.com
www.AmericanMadeMatters.com

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