Few people are aware that more than 11.6 million firms are owned by women, employing nearly 9 million people, and generating $1.7 trillion in sales as of 2017. In fact, women run businesses are helping to lead a resurgence in American manufacturing.
Many women-run businesses participated as exhibitors in the Made in America show, and as I mentioned in my last article, I participated as a panelist for the Women Leading America Made session that featured five women running their own American-made businesses. Moderator Rose Tennent asked each of us to briefly describe our businesses.
Barbara Creighton, CEO of Sarati International, Inc. started her company in 1992 in south Texas to make private label prescription drugs, proprietary drugs, and skin care products. She said, “We develop custom formulations and then private label them. We make products like you would purchase, and we private label them. We are woman owned and woman run.”
Beverlee Dacey, owner of Amodex Products, said that her parents started the company in the early 1970s, and now she runs it. “We make a soap-based product that is an ink and stain remover liquid solution and do our own manufacturing in Bridgeport, CT. Amodex is the only stain remover recommended by the manufacturer of Sharpie to remove Sharpie ink from anything.”
Connie Sylvester said, “I am an inventor and founder of two companies, Water Rescue Innovations and Mommy-Armor USA. I founded my first company six years ago in Duluth, MN to make the ARM-LOC water rescue device that slides onto the victim’s forearm and locks into place so that a rescuer can pull the victim to safety. I sell to a male-dominated industry of first responders, fire-fighters, police, and rescue squads. I’m often the only woman telling men how to rescue people.”
She shared how she started her second company, Mommy Armor USA. On February 14, 2018, after she dropped off her son at school, she got a text message saying there was a school shut down due to a shooter. She was thankful that it wasn’t at her son’s school, but her heart broke for the 17 parents that lost their children at Parkland in Broward County, Florida. She said, “There was a problem, and I came up with a solution. I had some bullet proof material and suggested to my son that I could make a bullet-proof backpack, but he said they had to leave their backpacks in their lockers. I asked what they got to take to class, and he said they get to take their 3-ring binders. My other son said they get to take their daily planners. So, I got the idea of making a bullet-proof cover for the 3-ring binder and the daily planner.”
She then demonstrated how the bullet proof daily planner could be attached to the 3-ring binder and how it could be used to shield your body like armor. She is just launching the product in time for Christmas. She has the Mommy Armor fabricated by a company in the hills of the Appalachian Mountains, Capewell Aerial Systems LLC.
Leigh Valentine, founder of Leigh Valentine’s Beauty said that she went through a terrible divorce, lost everything, slept on the floor, and was on welfare for a while. Then, the Lord gave her an incredible idea for a non-surgical face lift product made from plant extracts that dramatically firms skin and takes away wrinkles. She was on the QVC shopping network for 14 years and sold over 40,000,000 products. She said many people have told her she could save money by buying from China, but she said, “All of my products are made in America, and I try to buy as much as I can in America.”
I shared that when I started my sales agency 34 years ago, I chose to only represent American manufacturers. I was a woman in a man’s world because I started out selling castings, forgings, and extrusions. No buyer or engineer I saw had ever been called on by a woman. I visited all of the companies I represented and learned everything I could about their manufacturing so I would be informed. When I saw what was happening to manufacturing and how it was being decimated, I started writing blog articles and reports and then wrote my book. Can American Manufacturing be Saved” Why we should and how we can that came out in 2009. A second edition came out in 2012, and I have written over 300 articles in the past ten years. We have saved American manufacturing, and now we need to rebuild it. I showed everyone my latest book, Rebuild Manufacturing – the key to American Prosperity.
Rose asked us to what message we would give to a woman who has an idea for a product or who has already started her own business. Leigh said, “You really have to fight to bring your product to market. I partnered with some people that I wish I never had partnered with.” She would advise women that if they need a partner “be careful to pick a partner that has the same values and vision you do. They will steal from you and lie.” In the end, it cost her $6 million to end the partnership.
Beverlee said, “When you run a company, don’t think you are ever going to reach an equilibrium where you don’t have problems. Every single day there are stress and problems. Then you realize that the problems don’t go away, they just get bigger and worse. It is normal. It is part of what you do when you run a company. The other lesson I have learned is don’t grow too fast. There is only so much you can do and only so much you can do well. We are only a five-person company. When we got picked up by Lowes, we made the decision not to go with Home Depot because we wanted to be a good partner to Lowes.”
Barbara said, “Don’t believe all the lies that are being sold to young people. There is no a glass ceiling. Men created the glass ceiling to keep women down. I have never felt held back by a glass ceiling. I was the first women on the west coast to sell chemicals, and the first women in land development. The ceiling is only created by you.”
Connie said, “Don’t set the bar too low and never give up.” She did high jumping like her brothers and they never lowered the bar for her even though she is only 5 ft. 3 in. She actually coached track and field for five years.
I said that I would advise a woman to never stop learning. “I recently got my certificate in Lean Six Sigma to be of more service to my customers. Service is all I have to offer — service to the companies I represent and service to my customers. When I started my company, I chose a motto: you achieve your goals by serving others.”
Rose commented that there seems to be more comradery at this trade show and asked us to share what we thought about the show.
Leigh said, “It is such an honor to be here. I am thrilled and honored to be here. This is a movement, and we’ve got to stick together and support each other’s businesses.”
Connie said, “This is like a family. I was actually at another Expo here and saw an announcement on the TV in my hotel about this show, and I knew I had to be here. When I walked the aisles, I knew I had found my people. Everyone of these people know what it takes to make products in America. We could have hit the easy button and made things cheaper in other countries, but we chose to make our products in America.”
Barbara said, “In this incredibly divisive world, we need to help one another. I am extremely excited about being able to share joy. I just try to lift others up. We are Americans and are proud to be Americans, and we want to have joy in a country that has given us amazing opportunity.”
Beverlee said, “The Made in America movement has been around for awhile now, but what I have enjoyed the most is that for the first time we have a “hubable” wheel where there were a lot of silos. All of us here are together in this. It’s not a trade show, it’s a forum.”
I said, “This show is a dream come true for me. Most people don’t realize that manufacturing is the foundation of the middle class. We lose manufacturing and we lose the middle class. We’ve had wage stagnation for 20 years, and my children aren’t as well off as I was. We have to get the message across to our children and grandchildren of how important it is to make things in America again. I heard it said that there are only three ways to create tangible wealth: “Grow it, mine it, or make it.” We need to create wealth for our country by making things in America so we can have a safe and free country. After our panel session ended, we said that we would look forward to seeing each other again at the 2020 Made in America Show. We know it will be even bigger and better, so don’t miss it.
By Michele Nash-Hoff
MadeinAmerica.com Updates – More products made by women lead companies that were featured in the Made in America 2019 bedroom:
Bedding from https://americanblossomlinens.com
Mattresses from https://holdermattress.com/
Flooring from https://www.emilymorrowhome.com/
Rugs from www.loominaries.com
American Blossom Linens
Thomaston Mills, a family owned textile mill, has been making bedding for over 115 years in the town of Thomaston, Georgia. While nearly all USA textile manufacturing and production moved overseas, decimating factories and jobs, Thomaston Mills continues to thrive and keeps manufacturing here in the USA. For the past 20 years, Thomaston manufacturing focused on the healthcare and hospitality market. Hilton, Marriott, Radisson and Intercontinental hotels have all used their sheets. Now they are offering a brand called American Blossom Linens direct to consumers.
In response to a massive rise in consumer demand for organic cotton and USA made products, Janet Wischnia, one of the owners of Thomaston Mills and granddaughter of the founder, decided to reenter the retail market in December 2018 with the launch of direct to consumer brand, American Blossom Linens. She brought back a brand, originally called Blossom that was created by Thomaston in the 1940’s with the goal of capturing the time tested quality of their origins. The collection, available now on the American Blossom Linens website, americanblossomlinens.com, includes sheet, pillowcase and duvet sets and a crib sheet. The linens are generously sized with extra deep pockets to provide an excellent fit on almost any height mattress. “Top or Bottom” labels act as visual cues to help you place the fitted sheet correctly on the mattress. Thomaston Mills wanted to make environmental responsibility easy, so they made the sheets more substantial, which helps them last longer and uses an advanced all-natural finishing process that softens the cotton to ensure a smooth feel.
American Blossom Linens bedding is made only in the USA using 100% traceable organic cotton grown in West Texas by family farmers. Their bedding is grown, processed, finished and sewn in the USA, drastically reducing its carbon footprint while supporting American workers all along the way. Thomaston Mills brought back American Blossom because they perceive people are looking for sustainable products, impeccably made in the USA by friends and neighbors, products that will last and last and never go out of style. American from the farm to the bed.
888-825-0110 ext 2275
Emily Morrow Home
A woman-owned hardwood flooring company based in Dalton, Ga., Emily Morrow Home beautifully represents the American Dream. Although hardwood flooring has been a male-dominated industry that has sadly evolved into importing poorly made hardwood flooring, Emily Morrow Home is breaking the mold with quality, domestically-crafted products— and a commitment to doing things better…differently.
Like any good story, Emily Morrow Home began with a love story- a life-long love for design that grew into a profession. After almost 30-years of practicing interior design, 13 of which directing the design team for Shaw Floors, founder Emily Kiker Finkell entered a new chapter of life and launched the eponymous Emily Morrow Home. Included in Emily’s to-the-trade brand are beautifully designed collections of upscale hardwood flooring and luxury home décor, all proudly made in America.
From being inspired by the stunning vineyards of Napa Valley or the great wildebeest migration across Africa, each product within the Emily Morrow Home brand is designed to bring the world’s most stunning visuals home to her customers through local retailers. Emily Morrow sells through experienced small business flooring retailers across the nation, people with proven ability and craftsmanship Finkell donates a portion of proceeds to the Kiker Morrow Finkell Breast Cancer Foundation and participates in a prison work program that teaches inmates invaluable skills and work ethic.
For more inspiration and a more in-depth look into Finkell’s craft, visit her blog, https://www.emilymorrowhome.com/the-ultimate-guide-to-living-a-beautiful-life/, where you’ll find useful ideas and insights into home interior design as well as the simplest touches for adding joy to a day.
Since 1947, the Holder family has built a tradition of excellence by using the finest materials to construct their own mattresses and box springs. To this day, each set is still hand-crafted in their own factory in Kokomo, Indiana. All materials are carefully selected and sourced in the United States, meaning every Holder Mattress is not just made in Indiana but truly American Made. Attention to detail and craftsmanship and a standard of building a two-sided mattress or flippable mattress assures the Holder Mattress Factory standard of quality that has become notable throughout central Indiana.
In 2003, the granddaughter of the founder, Lauren McAshlan Taylor, assumed the reins as a third-generation owner. Lauren strives each day to build the quality of product her grandfather would have built himself, along with providing the highest level of customer service to her clients.
For as long as she can remember, Patricia has been intrigued by the art of weaving. Her first introduction to multi-harness looms was on a childhood visit to Sturbridge Village, a re-creation of an 18th century town in Sturbridge, Massachusetts. The gift Patricia received from her parents and husband upon her graduation from college was a four harness, 45” wide floor loom, which enabled her to create a greater variety of woven pieces. A magazine article about rag rugs shown to her by her mother sparked her interest and soon she began weaving her own rugs.
Patricia’s rugs began to catch the attention of interior designers, as well as home furnishing shops, and soon her business was transformed to the production of custom rag rugs which can be woven in any size up to twelve feet wide and any length. A move in November of 2015 to western North Carolina, surrounded by beautiful mountains and abundant wildlife, is the setting from which Patricia draws inspiration to create rugs which complement every style of home design.
The Made in America trade show runs from October 3rd thru 6th, more than 450,000 square feet of the Indiana Convention Center will be used to showcase hundreds of manufacturers including many small and women owned and run businesses who make products ranging from aerospace and automobiles to apparel and textiles. Organizers expect thousands of attendees. Events include a concert with country music duo Big and Rich, a talk by My Pillow founder Michael J. Lindell, a celebration honoring U.S. military veterans and “Made in America Awards” to recognize the accomplishments of American production heroes.
Individuals interested in attending the Made in America trade show can visit https://madeinamerica.com/event-attend/