Folks occasionally ask us why we have chosen to produce ReFleece cases in the U.S. instead of abroad, where we could -- one presumes -- make them for less money. Our recent trip to our factory, here in the U.S., illustrates some of the reasons.
First and foremost, it is our goal to create healthy communities -- environmentally, economically, socially. We try (with varying success, admittedly) to do this in our own lives, and it is a natural extension to try to do this through our company as well.
Could we do this in China, Thailand, or Vietnam? Probably, but frankly, we don't know how yet. We don't speak those languages, we don't know those cultures well, and we know that it's all too easy for English-speaking representatives to cover up the actual working conditions and environmental practices of factories overseas. We have friends there, yes, but it's not easy to visit, and it's not easy to be sure that we believe in the way our cases are produced.
This past week was my first visit to our factory here in the U.S. (Sam has been several times), and I loved it. We spent lots of time with Michael, who manages the factory; we met the women who sew the cases (why all women? That's a post for another day), we even blew soap bubbles with some of their kids and grandkids who come by after school until the shift ends at 3:00.
In terms of efficiency, I think there is something to be said for solving problems and working out details together, with the people who are actually making the cases. Carmen, an experienced seamstress, Michael and Sam (all pictured here) spent hours working through details together. They were as obsessive about every seam as he is. We all sorted colors together, with suggestions from the shift-managers and fork-lift drivers along the way.
It was reassuring to see that the floor is clean, safety practices are in place, the area is open and airy and ventilated well (in fact, I kept having to put a rock on my papers because there was such a breeze!). And it was nice to know we could come back soon, and see these folks again!
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