Monday, October 19, 2009

Carolyn Westbrook: Made in the U.S.A.

Made in the U.S.A. seems that this is a thing of the past. Oh my gosh!!! I never seem to have time to sit down and watch an entire movie or program on T.V. but I was in the room when this HBO special came on something like, "Rags to Riches to Rags" a feature on the garment industry. I was mesmerized. It was talking about how the industry has changed so DRASTICALLY since even the mid 90's. Even I can see, when I got into manufacturing in 1994, there were plenty of fabric lines, reps. plenty of sewers and cutters, it was still a possibility to manufacture here locally in the U.S. Since that time, I myself have seen the decline in the garment industry. The fabric shows were HUGE and the fabric merchants had lots of ATTITUDE. Now, they are begging for business and the fabric shows have declined to pratically nothing. The fabric mills are on a rapid decline with hardly any actually left.
They showed on this feature this stunning realization.
1965- 95% of garments were manufactured here in the U.S.A.
1975- 80% of " " " " U.S.A.
1985- 70% of garments were manufactured here in the U.S.A.
1995- 50% of garments were manufactured here in the U.S.A.

Now for the most disturbing news...
2009- 5% of garments are manufactured here in the U.S.A.
and virtually all of the countries that are manufacturing are using child labor.

It is stunning. This comes at a time when I am in talks with a company about moving manufacturing to China. I really had no idea what the statistics were.
We really need to care about this because it not only effects the sewers, cutters, designers, but the accountants, the secretaries, the maintenance staff, and our entire economy. Hopefully it is not too late for us to care where are products are made, and what this means to the U.S.A.
The Fat Cat big name designers charge unbelievable prices for their garments, could they not afford to have them made here at home and still profit. Are they really that greedy?
Yes, I know we all like to get the great shirt or sweater for $12, but it seems that we will end up paying a much bigger price if this continues.

I for one, will not be moving operations out of the country. I am an advocate for children and could not sleep at night knowing that I was profiting from child labor.
If you get the opportunity to watch this, you really should. It is a real eye opener about what is happening to our country and how very sad it is to see these very talented people (designers, pattern makers, etc.) out of jobs because of our desire to buy cheaper, cheaper, cheaper and because of the greed of big corporate. Let's remember the pride that comes with MADE IN THE U.S.A.
XOXO Carolyn


patricia@ReFind Home&Garden said...

Well said Carolyn and I applaud your decision to stay "made in the USA". Blessings, Patricia

Scott said...

I work for an organization that inspects and monitors for illegal child labor in the handmade rug industry. I've been to India and Nepal multiple times and I can tell you it is worse than the HBO special... always ask the company you're purchasing from how they monitor their supply chain to ensure the labor practices are legal, safe and sustainable...on rugs you can look for the RugMark (now GoodWeave) label. On fish - an MSC certification means it is sustainable, study the different certifications - these can help guide your purchase

Annie said...

Thanks for this insightful post. I remember in college...years ago...learning that the United States had "given away" shoe manufacturing and was losing out in other industries. Soon we will not be producing anything, not even our own food. What a precarious, dangerous dependence. And to think of the thousands of children who will not have childhoods is more than heartbreaking.

And thank you for keeping your manufacturing in the USA!

Kathleen Fasanella said...

I'm glad to hear you've decided to produce locally. It seems too many entrepreneurs these days don't care or they say they do but they have their heads in the sand, relying on a foreign buying agent who excels at emotional appeal and reassurance.

It doesn't have to cost as much as everyone thinks. It's a matter of priority. If you feel compelled to gift celebs or have expensive marketing campaigns, yeah, it'll cost you. I welcome a return to the days when product quality and innovation sold a product, not a brand image and logo.

BriarRose said...


Because of what you just shared, I will continue to purchase my bed linens and pillows from you. It truly is important to know what is happening in other countries. Just as important is understanding the ripple effect as you described when manufacturing moves out of the United States. Perhaps we should all rethink who we are purchasing our goods from. Maybe our country would not be having the financial struggles and unemployment we see now. Debra

Meg said...

Carolyn, Thank you so much for sharing this reality with everyone. I am a home dec seamstress here in the USA and it is so difficult for people to understand why my pillow prices are higher than a throw pillow at the local TJ Max. I actually make it myself with pride, customer satisfaction, and quality control that I can control! I am teaching my grandchildren to sew the way children should learn, at their grandmother's knee. No pressure just fun. Hooray for you on making the hard choice to keep operations in the United States and considering the future of children in this country!!!!! Meg

Colleen Hickey said...

Thank you! Knowing this makes me want to support you as much as I can, and I love your bedding so much. Do you sell to shops?

Welcome to Yaya Chique! said...

Very well said! As a family of USA manufacturers and still doing it today (80 + years now)....our family and type of business has become a lost art. I am proud of you....xo...deb

Tami said...

Thank you Carolyn, for making the decision to keep wonderful people working here in the USA, for helping children be children in China, and for having enough faith in your product to know that it will matter to your buyers.

I have a friend that owns an antique shop. She sells antiques and some reproductions,accessories and period decorating items. The 'thing' that makes her different, is that she insists on working with local craftsman and everything in the shop is 100% made in the USA. We have several regular customers that come 50-100 miles or so for that reason. matters. Good for you, great decision! Tami E.

Debe said...

Bless you my dear! I love knowing that the lovely linen on my bed was made HERE, not THERE. Please, I would rather pay for that privilege! Keep it here!!