I want to openly state that I am disgusted with companies like Toms Shoes. If you are not familiar with them, they make cheap shoes cheaply in China, typically canvas flats, and sell them for around $40. Their claim to fame is that they donate a pair of free shoes to some poor person in the Third World for every pair you buy from them. Where do I begin?

It’s not enough that in order for some of us to feel good about buying something, we feel the need to simultaneously give it away to someone that did nothing to earn it. It’s not enough that companies tout their “social justice” agenda ahead of their quality and pride of manufacture. What tops it off is that Toms is a complete hypocrite! They want you to impoverish this country not once, but twice, with every pair of shoes you buy. Of course, both the pair of shoes you buy and the one you give away are made in China. Every dollar that leaves this country to achieve this impoverishes the US and enriches China. Hey, if China wants to spend some of their own trade surplus dollars on donating some of the shoes they make, have at it, I say!

I further call into question the dubious claim that donating free shoes around the world is even a good thing. How is this different than welfare? This creates no wealth around the world. It does not increase the economy anywhere. It does not increase skills or technology of poor people. It does, however, impoverish local businesses that make indigenous shoes because they can’t compete with FREE shoes. We should look no further than our own experience to see that international welfare is no better than domestic welfare and only creates poverty and dependency, not wealth or self-sufficiency. If you really want to help the third world, buy more American products and fewer Chinese products. You’ll make us richer and more able to afford imports from the country you’re currently feeling sorry for.

Chinese Made Shoes

Peruvians Love Chinese Shoes?

My office manager recently ran across the ERA line of spray-on foundations and bronzers (made by Classified Cosmetics) as an addition to my medical spa’s products.  She forwarded me the information and we decided to carry it.  We already sell multiple skin care products but have so far shied away from selling cosmetics.  Their ubiquity was one obstacle to bringing them on.  What I like about ERA, which has gotten quite a lot of recent fame from use on Twilight sets, is that it goes on like air-brushed makeup, so you’re getting professional level cosmetics in a take-home bottle.

I also of course asked where it was made – right here in Southern California as a matter of fact.  There aren’t that many domestically made cosmetics, though I’ve read that Smashbox and Glo Minerals are both made here.  Whenever possible, I support domestically-produced products.

ERA by Classified Cosmetics

Reversible Pocket Watch Necklace by EDM Designs

Wife of Mr. MadeinUSAblog here.  Having now fully caught the buy Made in USA bug too, I was faced with the dilemma of what to get my main man for his anniversary.  I went to my go-to website for gifts that are original and (mostly) Made in the USA, Etsy.com.  On Etsy, I found EDM Designs, an amazing jewelry designer who hand makes steampunk fashion jewelry (my husband’s latest interest).  EDM designs features re-purposed styles of fine watch pieces from the mid to late 1800’s and into the early 1940’s. The result is a stunning line of cufflinks, necklaces, pocket watches and more that are sure to be a conversation piece for anyone who wears one.  I chose the Reversible Pocket Watch Vintage Optical Lens necklace, recently photographed on Howie Mandel (although Howie had no bearing on my selection, I just really liked this one).

The search for an original, quality Made in USA gift was a success!  My husband loved the necklace.  I loved the personal communication I got from the seller and supporting an American artisan who is obviously very talented.

Here is a little more information about EDM Designs, as written by the artist/designer herself, Ricky Wolbrom:

You will find designs and jewelry pieces that touch the spirit of those with an appreciation for the lifestyle and old world adornments of the vintage eras. Influenced by my utmost respect for the brilliant and skilled craftmanship of vintage watch movements, master artisans of yesteryear hand created these intricate and fascinating little worlds of synchronicity and artistic beauty. To be able to repurpose them and allow these mini landscapes of art find new life in today’s times gives me tremendous pleasure.

I work hard to ensure the visual integrity of the vintage pieces being used. In many cases, such as many of our cufflinks, rings and necklaces, etc., our products are professionally soldered for pieces that are of the highest quality…. resulting in a finished product that is both hand made and visually stunning.

Check out all of the incredible, original creations of EDM designs, found on her Etsy shop here.

Reversible Pocket Watch Necklace in Action

For my birthday, I just got the Allan Edmonds McTavish oxford wing tip pair of shoes in black with reddish accents.  I have gone without new dress shoes in a few years, owing to the scarcity of American-made dress shoes.  Allan Edmonds is the only large-scale maker of shoes that still manufactures their shoes in the US, that I am aware of (please comment if you know of others).  I had been saving up for this pair and my wife got them for me for my birthday on Zappos.com.

I am thrilled with the shoes.  They are not cheap ($295 on Zappos) but they are within the typical price range for quality Italian dress shoes.  There are certainly more expensive ones.  I really like the feel and thickness of the leather and the reddish accents.  These are very handsome shoes that go with either casual or business dress.  These are the sort of shoes you’ll keep for probably decades, as they can be refurbished by the manufacturer if you send them to Allan Edmonds.

I read about the shoes on AllanEdmonds.com.  They are made in Port Washington, Wisconsin, and it seems that they get at least some of their leather domestically from a factory in Chicago.  Below is a pic of my new shoes!

As a cosmetic surgeon at Celebrity Laser Spa, I recently implemented dictation services at my clinic.  I had some recent experience with hospital dictation services and was more than once displeased to find that the service had been changed in favor of another service that was cheaper, offshore and of lower quality.  I found mistakes more frequently and customer service was non-existent.  I assumed that the price difference must be huge to justify such lower standards.
This assumption changed when I hired a dictation service myself.  I was informed by Datalyst Dictation that the difference was 9 cents per line for offshore transcription and 11 cents for domestic.  However, I did have to ask whether the initial rate of 9 cents reflected offshoring and was informed that if I wanted domestic transcription, it would be 11 cents.  It should be more up-front.  I have been pleased with the service so far and can tell by reading the transcripts that they are done by native English speakers. Is a 20% difference worth all the headaches of offshoring?  I wish that people cared more about quality and efficiency and less about the nominal price.  You end up paying for the savings in the end anyway.

I just got back from a trip to Yellowstone National Park.  It was amazing and my family couldn’t get enough of geysers, hot springs, buffalo, forests, and meadows.  How this relates to the blog, is that I frequented the gift shops at the inns (run by Xanterra, which also operates the parks’ hotels and restaurants) as well as the general stores (run by Delaware North).  I bought a made in USA Stetson American Buffalo Collection cowboy hat (see pics below) for $69.  Looking around in these stores, I noticed that there were whole sections devoted to made in USA goods, with prominent signs displayed.  Even so, probably 70-80% of the goods in the stores were imported, but it was nice to see an effort made to promote and set apart domestically produced goods.

This makes sense from a business standpoint for the shops.  There were gaggles of foreign tourists in Yellowstone, including a large measure of Chinese.  What Chinese tourist would want to bring back gifts from the US with the made in China sticker on them??  If you go to a foreign country, you want to bring back souvenirs and gifts that are peculiar to and produced in that country. I spoke with one of the salesladies at the Canyon Village general store and she told me that this trend was mainly in response to consumer demand.  Yes, that’s right – businesses listened to what we wanted and provided it.

So seize your economic power – demand American made goods from your retailers and wholesalers.  Vote with your pocketbook, like the Germans do!  Buy American and this country will be great once more!

By the way, I bought one of the travel mugs at the bottom, by whirleydrinkworks.com.  It was only $4.99 and appears to be quality-made! By the way, from a recent contact, here’s americanmugandstein.com, which is a domestic maker of coffee mugs and now supplies to Starbucks and was submitted by a reader.

Made in USA Products at Yellowstone National Park gift shop

Made in USA souvenir clothes in Yellowstone

Made in USA travel mugs!

I really like RockNSocks (http://rocknsocks.com).  Their founder, Misty Reilly, got the idea of making socks from going to music festivals where lots of unique clothes were sold but few necessities, such as socks.  Thus the name, RockNSocks.  She based the manufacturing process on domestically-sourced production and regenerated cotton, which has a minimal environmental impact.  I like that people who care about green production are also frequently people that care about domestic sourcing.  It seems that most of their socks are geared for women, though I could see a guy wearing some under pants.  (The modeling pic below is my wife.)  Although I have been able to find many made in USA men’s socks now (see my men’s sock post), this is the first one I have run across that is geared more to women in a boutique-fashion sort of way.

Stay tuned for a post about made in USA clothes and other products from the Renaissance Faire!