Dean Wegner is founder and CEO of Authentically American. The company’s vision is to build an iconic American brand that is truly American made. At the heart of their mission is their passion for job creation, which is why everything they make, no exceptions, is Made in USA. Authentically American produces a premium high-quality line of apparel and accessories. Dean discusses his inspiration to start the brand and the importance of “authentically” American goods.
Jason Blount: I have really looked forward to this interview after following your brand for the last year since you were featured on Fox News with Darrell Waltrip. Can you give me some background on yourself and the company?
Dean Wegner: Let me start with what is most important to me, my family. My wife Kelly and I will be celebrating 25-years of marriage in August. We have four amazing kids, two daughters 21 and 18, and two sons 15 and 9, with our youngest having been adopted from Ethiopia.
My professional career started in 1993 when I graduated from West Point and attended Rotary Wing Flight School to learn how to fly helicopters. After flight school, I had the unique opportunity to attend the Army’s Ranger School where I learned many useful skills related to leadership and perseverance to build a startup. I am an American patriot at heart and I have always had a vision to build this iconic American brand that is truly American-made. The second part of that description is most important. There are countless brands that market themselves as ‘American’, but their products aren’t even made in America. The fabric and DNA of Authentically American is a culmination of every experience in my career starting with West Point and serving our country in the US Army. I officially launched Authentically American in July of 2017. We’re a brand that celebrates patriotism; we love our country and what it stands for, and our logo is a vintage US flag. We are a brand that believes in the American worker, which is why everything we produce is Made in USA and 100% guaranteed. We are also a brand that honors our American heroes, which is why we intentionally donate 10 percent of our gross profits to veteran and first responder charities. These are the brand ethos of Authentically American.
Jason: That’s inspiring and an incredible mission. Where do you source from within the U.S.?
Dean: Since July 2017, I’ve been building a foundation for our business. The primary piece of the foundation is our supply chain. We have contract manufacturing established across 9 different states in the U.S. For example, we produce our polos and outerwear in California. Our t-shirts are produced in Texas, and our athletic jerseys are made in Georgia. We produce all across the U.S., and ONLY in the U.S.
Jason: It sounds like you’re supporting a lot of American Made jobs across the country. Who are your main customers?
Dean: Let me provide some background before answering that question. If you are going to build a brand from scratch like we are doing, it is incredibly difficult to do. Primary reason being, you don’t have an audience, no one knows who you are. To build an audience from scratch, it takes a lot of time and money. Instead of building an audience from scratch, I decided to initially pursue a B2B model and go where audiences already exist. Business of all sizes for example, spend $8 billion per year on branded apparel alone. What we’re doing is providing business and organizations a choice; a high-quality American-made choice that’s competitively priced. In addition to businesses, we partner with colleges like West Point and the University of Tennessee. We also work with charities and non-profits, political campaigns, and athletic associations.
Jason: That’s great progress in the short amount of time that you have launched. How does your price-point compare to imported goods?
Dean: We are competitively priced, but it’s all relative to your benchmark. If the customer wants the cheapest apparel out there and price is the number one factor, we’re not a good fit. But if you’re buying a more premium national brand like Nike or Land’s End, we are absolutely competitive. Our apparel is similarly priced to nationally known premium brands and it is ALL Made in USA.
Jason: That makes sense how you can easily compete with the pricey polos of the big brands and it’s more sustainable to keep it local. How do you define “Authentically American”?
Dean: It’s a twofold definition. Today, it means that everything we produce meets the legal requirement to be Made in USA–no exceptions. This is no easy task since less than 3% of the apparel in the US is made in the US. ALL of our production is in the US by American workers. There are a few rare exceptions where not all of are raw materials our sourced within the US since it is not readily available in the US. Long term, our goal is for Authentically American to be 100% Made in USA where every component of our brand is sourced, produced, and manufactured in the US.
ABOUT AUTHENTICALLY AMERICAN
An iconic American brand that is truly American made. We partner with businesses of all sizes, colleges & high schools, charities & non-profits, sports leagues, and political campaigns to provide high quality co-branded Made in USA apparel and merchandise that is competitively priced. We also offer our own consumer brand product offering and donate 10% of our gross profits to veteran and first responder focused charities. Think of Authentically American as the next Nike or Under Armour, but ALL Made in USA. To learn more about Authentically American, visit our website or watch either of the videos listed below.
For more information contact:
Dean Wegner, Founder & CEO
E: [email protected]