by Jimmy MacDonald January 16, 2019 7 min read
Happy New Year 2019!
For many, a new year brings with it reflections of the year past, and thoughts of the year ahead. For us at Authenticity 50, we always strive to be as open and transparent with you, our valued customer and supporter. It is extremely important for us to share our highs & lows, as we work tirelessly to bring back American-made luxe bedding - one sheet set at a time. We've come to the realization that if we don't succeed in growing Authenticity 50 and Made in USA bedding quickly, it will leave our shores forever, never to return. This will be our core objective for 2019.
Taking inspiration from GORUCK, a company that we admire tremendously, and which values business transparency, we’d like to share the inner workings of Authenticity 50. Here’s the first State of Authenticity 50:
We’ve always been proud supporters of Made in USA products, and we both come from families with small businesses. You could say it was in our DNA and destiny to create A50, but it was actually born out of an unsuccessful quest to find high quality bedding made in the States. When we got married, we tried to outfit our home entirely in American-made goods, knowing they would last for years and be worth the investment. But when it came to finding bedding, every store and retailer we looked at only sold sheets that were made overseas. On an anniversary getaway at a B&B in Carmel, CA, we slept on amazing sheets - and the tags said Made in the USA! However, the owners told us they had been stockpiling them for over 10 years; the company stopped domestic manufacturing, and these were their very last sets. This was back in 2014, and the idea of Authenticity 50 was born.
After that B&B experience in Carmel, we spent months researching the linen market, and scoured the closets of friends and family, hoping to find old sheet sets that were made locally. We learned that America was once the global leader in textile production - in particular, sheets and towels - weaving millions of yards of sheeting fabric per year. However, by the 1980’s, the industry had been entirely off-shored, drastically going from a billion dollar market to zero in a matter of years. With 7-8 MILLION manufacturing and textile jobs lost to cheaper labor and production overseas. To put that in perspective, imagine the entirety of New York City getting laid off and the severity of the situation becomes very clear.
American labor simply costs more than an overseas workforce. In India and China, for example, workers often get paid less than $100 A MONTH at textile factories. Not to mention the difficult and unregulated conditions they are forced to work in. For the past forty years, companies have put their bottom line as their top priority; making the strategic decision to spend on advertising to increase growth, pay overseas wages to maintain and grow profits, and put quality and worker livelihoods on the backburner. American textile mills across the country, once a mainstay of our local cities and towns, closed by the thousands. People were laid off by the millions as the race to the bottom began.
Our goal with Authenticity 50 is to build a company that you’re proud to purchase from. A company led by the values of American manufacturing and honest transparency into our products and business. One that your parents, grandparents and our supply chain, are proud to support. If we don’t draw a line in the sand now, American bedding manufacturing will go overseas in the coming years - never to return as the skills and jobs go with it. Once that happens, our nation will never be able to recover and rebuild, and the possibility for a thriving domestic industry will be lost forever. This impact will be felt permanently and will have a ripple effect across the entire country, severely and negatively impacting individuals, families, and cities nationwide. The mill at the center of town that once employed a thousand people, and created a nexus for local industry (from restaurants to schools) will give way to empty factory floors, unemployment and poverty stricken communities.
We get many requests for new products, and we’re happy to report that 2019 will be an exciting year of growth and development on this front! Stay tuned, we’ll be releasing new items in the coming months! We promise to only manufacture something we’re proud to own, that’s best in class, and that you’ll love. And of course we’ll stick to our mantra, 100% Seed-to-Stitch® made in the USA.
A50 was able to continue solid growth in 2018, with increased sales and brand awareness, high level national press and coverage, team expansion, and an efficient platform with which to serve customers in the future. Many new customers joined the A50 movement, to help us bring it back. But 2018 also provided us with serious challenges; one in particular was especially painful.
By far the hardest, most heartbreaking thing to happen, was the summer closure of our weaving partner, Alice Mills. A very successful business since the 1920’s, Alice was a cornerstone of the town and employed hundreds of people. Their facilities were extremely impressive - picture a football stadium filled end to end with large weaving looms, and you begin to get a sense of their mighty operation. Just as important, they were family-owned and operated with integrity. It’s very possible that Authenticity 50 wouldn’t exist, were it not for them. When others ignored our small, upstart company that couldn’t meet the large minimum runs - they stepped up to the plate and said yes to our dream. They were true pros and had faith in us.
Unfortunately, and for those who don’t know, a perfect storm has developed in the textile industry; power is becoming more expensive, premium cotton prices have risen, and the wage gap between the US and overseas nations is at its highest. The pressure has been constant and unrelenting - more than 95% of the domestic textile industry has shut down in the last 25 years.
Alice Mills paid us one final respect by weaving a ton of fabric before they closed. It’s currently being cut & sewn into A50 products and going on our shelves. Our supply won’t last forever, though, so we’re working hard to secure a new partner. To say that it’s been stressful is a massive understatement - the uncertainty one feels when you’re emotionally and financially invested in your own business can be unsettling and scary. But we’re on the right path, and we’re setting Authenticity 50 up for many good years in the future.
If there’s a silver lining here, it’s that all Alice employees were able to find new jobs - many of them at mills we know or will be working with in the future. The team at Alice placed a big emphasis on making sure they could help their employees with the transition, and we applaud them for that.
Our hard working, locally-based customer service team is dedicated to creating a great shopping experience for our valued customers. Nothing makes us happier than hearing positive words about our excellent service - we truly value each and every customer and supporter we have, and we try our very best to ensure customer satisfaction. Rest assured, if you have a question and need answers, you’ll get a response from our awesome team. We’re so grateful that you chose to support A50 and buy American-made, and we want you to be happy!
Our team spends much time creating comprehensive, useful blog posts and articles on various topics related to sleep and wellness. Whether it’s the best thread count for sheets, the importance of sleep, myths related to bedding, or what to look for when buying sheets, we strive to provide helpful information and resources to help you learn about sleep and sheets. Many people are not aware of the positive impact a good night’s sleep can have on their life! It improves our bodies in many ways, including weight-loss, increased energy, effective workouts, better performance at work and home, and with overall wellness. We will continue to add quality content to our blog this year, centered around sleep, and creating a healthy lifestyle, for body, mind and soul.
We also take a lot of pride in curating American-made shopping guides, which you can find on our blog and website. They have become very popular, and our customers often tell us we helped them find a new brand or product they didn’t know existed! We love supporting great Made in USA companies, and doing our part to help spread awareness of amazing products made right here. You’ll be hard-pressed to find another company that spends as much time, effort and money helping other locally-made businesses grow awareness. We certainly depend on all of you out there to help spread the word! :)
We envisioned and created Authenticity 50 to be a values-driven company. To make the best bedding in the world, seed-to-stitch® in the USA - using only American materials, manufacturing and labor. To bring life back to the proud towns that have been left behind, and to build a company that our friends & family would be proud of. Despite the setbacks, mill closings and challenges we’ve faced, we’re more optimistic than ever before. Our growth and success is due in large part to the values that we strictly adhere to, the positive relationships that we have built with our manufacturing partners, customers, and supporters, and the company mission that inspires and drives us to make the best home goods out there. And we will continue to work hard so that we can continue to bring it back here - one sheet set at a time.
We are so incredibly grateful to you, our valued customer and supporter, for joining us on this journey to revive American-made bedding. Without you, there would be no Authenticity 50 - there’d be no luxury sheets Made in USA and the domestic industry would be lost to overseas manufacturing for good. We literally can’t do it without you! So THANK YOU so much for your support!
If you can, please tell one friend or family member about Authenticity 50, or just forward this blog post to them so they can learn about us! Word of mouth is the most important driver of growth for any company – in particular, bootstrapped, scrappy startups with a high and mighty mission!
We promise to help your friends and family sleep better than ever.
To Made in USA,
Steph, Jimmy and the entire A50 team
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