Jack and Mary Designs and American Made Matters www.AmericanMadeMatters.com
The American Made Matters mission is to educate consumers that buying US-made products strengthens the American dream. The American Dream
is a national ethos
of the United States
, a set of ideals in which freedom includes the opportunity for prosperity and success, and an upward social mobility
achieved through hard work. In the definition of the American Dream by James Truslow Adams
in 1931, "life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement" regardless of social class
or circumstances of birth. (Source: Wikipedia) Jack and Mary Designs supports and believes in the American dream by creating and manufacturing their line of Women's Accessories in Maine, USA. The materials to create our mittens, hats headbands and scarves are recycled wool and cashmere sweaters which are purchased at local USA thrift stores. Our upcycled wool
products are die cut by a Mill in Maine, USA, then sewn together by local Maine seamstresses. Even our product tags and hang tags are made by a Florida, USA company. American Made Matters® seeks to translate the knowledge of the importance of a strong U.S. manufacturing base into action through their members’ use of the American Made Matters® logo on the member company’s products, packaging and marketing materials. The American Made Matters® logo, a common branding identity, has come to symbolize American made craftsmanship, durability, quality, product safety and ingenuity. As it continues to gain awareness and recognition, it increasingly will be sought by Americans who understand that buying American made matters. (Source: American Made Matters) There is power in numbers and the American Made Matters® organization is growing. The voices of their members are being heard and more and more consumers are looking for American made products. For more information about American Made Matters®, please visit:www.AmericanMadeMatters.com
America Needs to Bring Manufacturing Home
I recently read an article in my local paper written by a businessman and inventor. He writes about the eight step process and importance of invention. He continues to write about the volume of invention ideas he receives from readers and concludes that American people's desire to invent and innovate is alive and can lead to manufacturing jobs. He continues to write about how our nation tragically killed manufacturing in the past 50 years. And what remain is a remnant of the glory days of the '60's, when the United States was on top of the World in manufacturing. Back then, the middle class was a large, prosperous and very happy sector of the American Population. Today, since Manufacturing has been largely shipped overseas we have increased our national debt to $16 trillion and continues to increase every day. This averages out to $52,000 of debt for each living man, woman and child. This huge debt will be left to our children if we don't do something. Although Jack and Mary Designs is a small company that manufactures Women's Accessories made from recycled wool sweaters - mittens, hats and scarves right here in the USA - Maine I feel proud to be making a difference. American Made Matters - Manufacture in the USA. www.JackandMaryDesigns.com
I Participated in the Handmade Section of the Boston Gift Show
This is a wholesale show that sells to the trade only - individuals who have stores, shops etc. When you apply to the show you sign up for a section to be with other "like" vendors. The three major sections are Handmade, New England and Manufactured. I signed up for the Handmade area thinking everything was Handmade in America. In the Handmade section the products have to be handmade, but can be made anywhere. In the New England Section the products have to be from New England but not necessarily hand made. And the manufactured section speaks for itself...lots of $3 trinkets. So back to me and the Handmade section. When you truly produce something hand made in America it takes time ($), in my case thoughtfulness and creativity. What I found in the Handmade section was companies selling Fair Trade products, made in India through US Reps. They were selling beautiful felted handbags for $10, lovely glass flower necklaces for $8 and Pashminas for $5 etc. Our upcycled wool product line
ranges from $6-24 and that is considered expensive when compared to Fair Trade. I still had a good show but wish I had done my Homework to better understand the different sections. I have contacted the Boston Gift Show to encourage them to have a Handmade in New England section or Handmade in America. Or Better yet, Maine Made, America's Best.
My business takes old thrift store sweaters, brings new live to them by creating new products. I guess you could call it recycling. I just do not feel like recycling is the right word for my products. The word recycling reminds me of a bin of plastic and glass bottles or a stack of old newspapers waiting to go to the redemption center. The new catch word for recycling is repurposed - as in; I take old sweaters and repurpose them into hats, mittens and headbands. Repurposed doesn't sit well with me either. So, I decided to throw it out there to Facebook to see what my friends thought. I received some great responses - reinvented, reincarnated and re-loved. I think all of the responses are great and look forward to working them into my media until the right one sticks. So thanks Margaux, Liz and Mary for helping me think outside the box. My new tag line might read - Jack and Mary Accessories, artfully created from re-loved wool sweaters!
Most of your body heat escapes through your head. True or False? I believe that this statement is true. I am a hat wearer and love the cozy warmth and protection from the elements a repurposed wool hat provides. I recently read an article that partially disproves my theory. The article states that an experiment was done in the 1950's in which soldiers were sent into subzero temps wearing survival suits - and no hats. Shockingly, they lost a lot of heat through their heads! A hypothermia expert states that you'd lose just as much heat or more if you put on a hat and left, say, your left leg bare. So, my theory is to cover up everything including your head. There are a lot of great Hats to wear! www.JackandMaryDesigns.com
As Jack and Mary Designs continues to grow and expand I look for more efficient and cost ways to do things without losing site of my core values.
Throughout this journey I continue to value being a female owned handmade in Maine company that designs and creates artfully crafted accessories from recycled materials. When I first started making mittens from recycled wool sweaters
, I would trace the mitten pattern onto a sweater and hand cut each pair. Now I supply a Maine Mill with sweaters and they die cut our mittens. I used to buy all of my sweaters individually from EBay and now I have resources to buy used sweaters in bulk. The buttons for my mittens used to come from my personal button stash, then my mothers and then my mother in law. Now they come from a variety of resources. My first labels were embroidered on a sheet of 20 by a local seamstress and then cut apart with pinking sheers and costs $1.00 a label. Now I have my labels made in bulk (5,000) and the cost about $.12 each.
It is now time to redesign my hang tag. I want to design a tag that will work well with all of my products. I used to use a full business card. Then I went to a glossy 1/2 business card created by www.Moo.com. They work great as tags but they have to be hand whole punched, strung and hand tied onto products.
My current project is to redesign my Hang Tag. A lot of information has to be conveyed in a small space. I am in the process of working with a graphic designer to help me create a new hang tag. I really like the designs he created and now I have to make a choice or modify one of his designs. Then I have to chose the card stock for the tag and find someone to print the tags.
Jack and Mary Designs first retail "Dog"
My retail career started at Jordan Marsh Department Store. My first job was in the men's department. All year long we would get new merchandise and sell it. Every so often we would get somethingin that just would not sell. And when these non sellers came in we would receive huge quanties. In the retail trade they were referred to as "Dogs". No matter what we did they would not sell until they were marked down to a magically low price that got the customers attention. I expereinced my Jack and Mary Designs first retail "Dog" this year. Someone told me after my wholesale catalog was printed that a certain product was hot, hot, hot and I needed to make them. I quickly came up with a design, tested them, had a die made and put them into production. I decided I needed to go big or go home so I had 400 pairs made. I sent samples to all of my reps and received zero orders. Each time I shipped out a wholesale order I would include a pair, with a flyer boasting the features of the product. Still no sales. With no sales under my belt I knew I needed to mark them down to that magica price. I did and they sold.