Small-Time Manufacturing is Alive and Well in the USA
After recently moving out of New York City along with the estimated one million plus people who also relocated in the past year according to Forbes, I took some time to discover, regroup, and reset my routine between carefully planned trips to Whole Foods.
As I was busy exploring my new surroundings and settling in, I serendipitously come across a felt manufacturer (that has miraculously been in business since 1905) within driving distance of my home in CT.
This is of note for three reasons:
1) The introduction of variety has inspired a new and expanded product line crafted with high quality locally sourced fabric - both wool blended (Summer Wools) as well as sustainable options, which will be available leading into the fall + holiday gift season.
2) By moving out of NYC, I grudgingly gave up certain conveniences a life-long New Yorker has come to expect (we will save the story of leaving NYC for another post), however I am learning there are wonderful surprises in embracing change and adapting as we all are during a transitional moment for so many. There may not be a pot of gold, but we can keep looking for our own revelation at end of that rainbow. Appropriate yet not necessarily intended, the soft palette of my new product line is inspired by the rainbow.
3) Most importantly, this little discovery has allowed me to directly support a tiny smidgeon of the roughly 8% of the American workforce who are still employed within a forgotten sector of the US economy - manufacturing.
As recently as last year, manufacturing accounted for less than 12% of the GDP, the smallest share of the US economy since 1947, and it's not likely to turn around anytime soon given the state of uncertainty in which we currently find ourselves. In addition to a barrage of dire daily updates, this devastating pandemic has finally exposed our dependence on imported basic necessities such as PPE, medications, and much more.
I do not consider myself to be an artist anymore, but I am in some way a small-time manufacturer. And, it's not a lot, but I am doing what I can to support others in these unprecedented times by wearing a mask and sourcing supplies close to home. It's a small way to feel good about something as we ride this out together, but nonetheless is worth it.
Lastly, for a truly inspiring business story about how the pandemic has reshaped a corner of the manufacturing world in the USA due to the need for PPE, read this on PBS.