We’ve been conditioned as consumers to believe that the products we buy are dehumanized. That there is no face behind our clothes, or our iPhones, or the food we eat. We are told to spend money, consume, and be so instantly gratified to a point where we don’t even care about the “who” behind our products.
Or, we’re convinced that we don’t have a choice. For some people, that does hold true. Not everyone has the luxurious choice of buying organic or buying local. It’s cheaper having things made across the ocean! But I’m not talking about those people. That is a whole other blog post I need to write about.
For now, I’m talking to YOU.
From Day 1 of my ACE journey, I’ve made it a part of my mission to produce a backpack that is American made. A backpack where I can see the faces and hands of people that make it. I wanted to talk to those people. Know their names. I wanted a factory so close to me that I could literally hop on a bus and be there in 20 minutes.
I remember walking into my first fabric supplier meeting. I was with my partner Sean and one of my best gal pals, Alanna. My hands were sweaty, my heart was racing.
I was a newbie on the block and prepared to be treated like one.
However, when I walked into the studio, I was greeted with a warm smile. Nicole from Carr Textile was so excited to have me there and even MORE excited that I was a new designer. She asked me if I was going to be “American made” and I proudly told her, “You know it.”
She then told me about a beautiful factory that had been in business for over 30 years that is moving from the Garment District to Union City, New Jersey. “You’ll LOVE Arturo. He’s so skilled and he just wants to help you. You need to meet him and see the space,” she said. This conversation took place last, last June on my 25th birthday – almost a year and a half ago.
A year after that conversation, I e-mailed Christina, the Chief Operating Officer of Leatherworks by Arturo. The straps of my most recent sample had ripped off (yay for weight/strength testing) and I was panicking as it pushed back my timeline by 3 months.
I went on their website and it said, “Rome wasn’t built in a day but it was worth the wait!” Her response put me at ease. “Don’t worry, I will make sure your backpack is worth the wait!” I decided to meet with her with the intention to make Leatherworks my production partner.
When I stepped into the factory I was in awe. The space was beautiful and exactly how Nicole described it to me. The factory had an openness to it, high ceilings, lots of windows with beautiful light peeking in. But that wasn’t what made me decide to partner with them.
Christina gave me that same warm welcome I received from Nicole. She gave me a tour of the factory and introduced me to some of the workers there. She knew them by name. I watched them smile with one another while they worked with fabrics. Here I was, sharing this space.
A space that looked and felt like a home for artisans and crafters.
That’s when I knew Leatherworks by Arturo was the production partner for ACE. I believe in a fair wage and sweatshop-free work environment. I believe in the humanity behind products.
The story behind your backpack matters, and by being so close to the factory I am able to share that story with you. I’m able to SHOW you.
Where #TheDaniel backpack is made
Say hi to Domingo! He is one of the many skilled artisans behind The Daniel. He specifically produced my final sample aka he brought my dream to LIFE. These amazing humans are the reason why The Daniel is even a reality.
I am so, so proud that The Daniel is American made but even more proud that it is with a factory that has been in business for over 34 years and run by such an incredible woman. I knew Christina and Leatherworks would be so integral to ACE’s story.
THIS is why being made in America and BUYING made in America is worth it. So don’t be cheap. Don’t listen to those gaudy advertisements. You’re better than that.
You deserve a backpack that is ethically made, cruelty-free, and good for the planet.
I want you to #KnowWhoMadeIt.
To learn more about Leatherworks by Arturo, check out their website here.