by Jimmy MacDonald January 16, 2019 7 min read 5 Comments

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:

The Beginnings

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.

From global leader to a 97% job reduction

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.


The Mission

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.

New Products

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.

2018 year in review

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.

The end of an era

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.

Customer Service

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!

Blogs & Content

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! :)

2019 and beyond

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.

Thank you

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


5 Responses

Emily
Emily

February 23, 2019

I featured Authenticity 50 on my Buying American Blog, and, a few months later, treated myself to a set of Signature Sheets in Carolina Gray with extra Envelope Closure Pillowcases. I couldn’t be happier!! So sorry to hear that you lost your mill. :( I hope you can find another supplier & keep the Made in USA sheets coming… I’m eyeing the blue sheets next!

Authenticity 50
Authenticity 50

January 18, 2019

Thank you all so much for the encouraging replies. We appreciate you taking the time to send us feedback and share your thoughts.

Vanessa, yes keeping inventory on our shelves has been a challenge for us – though it’s something we’ll be better able to manage going forward as we learn about managing demand and do a better job of forecasting with our manufacturers. And thanks for the feedback on our pricing! We’ll definitely be here for the long term as long as we can grow – which I know we’ll be able to do. And Blue and Gray Queen sets should be back in stock this weekend. :)

Lynette, we really appreciate your support and belief in our company! We also appreciate you purchasing from us! It makes a huge difference and we’re not just saying that. Our workers are kept going, not by us, but by people like you. Made in USA is and will always be driven by the people like you who are putting your money where your mouth is. It’s our job to tell the story and let people know how their purchases impact people’s lives. We’re sorry to hear about your health issues – our hearts go out to you and if there’s ever anything we can do let us know!

Barbara, Thank you for your support and feedback! We wouldn’t be here without people like you. Currently we don’t offer organic sheets and there’s challenges with implementing it for ‘grown up’ sheets as opposed to crib or kids sheets. A main challenge is a lack of long-staple organic cotton that is of high enough quality for luxury sheeting. For t-shirts or knit wear you can get away with much lower grades of cotton, and organic is a lower grade of cotton for the most part. We’ve found that in the clothing/sheeting business ‘organic’ is more about marketing due to the fact that many ‘organic’ products are then treated with harsh chemicals which are decidedly un-organic. I could write pages and pages on this subject but for the meantime, we’ll do our best to build a business that can potentially launch organic products in the future. We value your feedback. :)

Thank you all and keep the comments coming – we promise to respond to all of them!

Barbara
Barbara

January 17, 2019

Love your sheets, so soft and cool. I buy made in USA for everything I can. Do you have any plans to offer sheets from organically grown cotton?

Lynette Pruett
Lynette Pruett

January 16, 2019

To Jimmy and Steph,
Thank you so much for this blog post. I must admit that it made me very sad, as in big crocodile tears sad, to hear of losing your Alice Mills. Every time we lose another American company, another part of our whole country dies with it. But I want to commend and thank you sincerely for your determination to continue fulfilling your dream of Seed to Stitch. We ALL benefit from what you do.
I only learned of your company late last year, when trying to furnish a retirement home with only American made products. Even in retirement, it’s just that important to me that we leave a strong America to our grandchildren, and that we share the need to do so with those who haven’t yet “seen the light”. In the past four months or so, I’ve purchased from you four sets of queen sheets in white and gray for our own use; two sets of twin sheets in blue for our guest room; one queen set in white for an anniversary gift; and a set of king sheets in white plus a king duvet cover, also in white, for a wedding gift, plus numerous extra pillowcase sets in standard and king sizes, both purchases and generous Black Friday gifts from your company. And every time I receive an order, I smile from ear to ear as I open the box and touch these wonderful linens!!!
I have multiple autoimmune diseases, which have led to severe small fiber neuropathy, especially bad in my feet but affecting my whole body. Now, I’m not claiming that these 100% Supima cotton sheets are going to resolve my medical issues, but I can say that having these sheets to sleep on every night helps my pain be a little bit less. And for anyone suffering from whole body chronic pain, something that relieves even a small bit of that pain is much appreciated.
Keep up your good work, Jimmy and Steph, and I for one will continue to cheer you on. I can’t wait to see what new products you introduce to us in 2019!

Vanessa Watson
Vanessa Watson

January 16, 2019

I certainly hope you’ll be able to continue. The first thing I did was to go to “shop” to buy the grey sheets I had been thinking about. Out of stock. Same with the blue. That’s a problem, especially when you want more customers. Other suggestion. Don’t be afraid to increase your prices. Your product is excellent and I would certainly pay more in a heartbeat. Hope you accept this in the spirit I intend. Love your company and the product. Really don’t want you to go out of business.

Leave a comment


Also in Seed to Stitch // Our A50 Blog

American Wool Comforter
5 Reasons Why a Wool Comforter is Better Than Down

by Deagan Williams December 05, 2019 3 min read

If you're in the market for a new duvet (comforter) to keep you warm during those cold Winter nights, you've probably come across the dilemma of wool vs. down. To clarify, wool comes from the coat of animals such as sheep, goats and llamas. Down is typically derived from duck or goose feathers. If you're not sure which is right for you, keep reading.
Read More
What's the best pillow for side, back & stomach sleepers?
What's the best pillow for side, back & stomach sleepers?

by Deagan Williams November 26, 2019 3 min read

The key to a great night's sleep is a pillow that offers you comfort while also offering the right amount of support you need to reduce back and neck pain. Regardless of how you sleep, we've taken the guesswork out of your pillow search. Read on to learn the best pillow for back sleepers, side sleepers and stomach sleepers.
Read More
The State of A50 2019
The State of A50 2019

by Jimmy MacDonald October 29, 2019 8 min read 6 Comments

We’re back at it for our annual State of A50, the 3rd one since 2017. We know you appreciate receiving these updates, and the transparency that we’ve shared in building this business, so let’s dive right in and let you know what’s been happening.
Read More