American Dream – A Story of Leather Goods by Mia Barrett

Cicada Leather Co - Mia Barrett

Growing up in her parents’ specialty toy store, Mia Barrett, the leathersmith behind Cicada Leather Company, was raised on the idea that small quality-focused businesses have power to change their communities. She wanted her own business to also have a larger impact. Knowing that she could not ask her customers to buy American-made without doing so her self, she set out to make leather goods made out of American-made materials. Now she hand-stitches thread made in Maine into leather tanned in Philadelphia and conditioned with cream made by people inWashington.

Messenger Bag by Cicada Leather Co

Mia knows that a leather bag or wallet or dopp kit is more than the materials its made of. Its value lies in its ability to join you on adventures. Whether its camping at an alpine lake, a wedding in Prague or a spontaneous trip to New York City, Mia brings her leather satchel. The bag is now a living journal of her travels. Its darkened from the sun, has a few spots from the rain, and a small mark from a rogue falafel. Knowing that her bag helped employee hundreds of other Americans, that it will keep accompanying her on journeys and that one day she will give it to her children, Mia is happy to continue slowly designing and creating leather goods.

 

BUY CICADA LEATHER GOODS HERE

 

Cicada Leather Co - Mia's Satchel

Cicada Leather Co - Tools

 

 

BUY CICADA LEATHER GOODS HERE

City Socks – from Rep’ It City

City Skyline Socks

Roots are deep with athletes. In recent years, we’ve seen professional basketball players and others wearing socks from their home town or favorite cities.  The problem is, many of those socks are made in overseas, some in sweatshops.

That’s why Rep’it City Socks is booming.  Their socks will cover the fans of almost any area, with a variety of colors, these socks are all made in the USA.

The company, based in Issaquah, WA, a Seattle suburb, Rep’it City Socks are made by athletes for athletes.

These socks are not just fashion and pride statements, they are high performance athletic socks.  Athletes and active people tend to have a lot of performance clothing. From the sweats and t-shirts needed for their daily workouts to the socks and shoes required for optimal performance, they will always have specific needs. This is one of the main reasons that so many experienced athletes have gotten involved in designing shoes and gear for their fellow athletes, and this is why Rep’ It City is a well-known and popular brand.

Rep’ It City is built around a group of experienced athletes working to provide others with the kinds of functional and yet good looking gear needed for their daily life.  One of the most popular items made by this brand are their city socks. These are classic fitness socks that do way beyond the boring old white socks. Instead, each of the pairs of city socks offered by Rep’ It City features bold graphics that depict a familiar city skyline and which feature the name of the back of the sock. For example, a fan of Houston would be able to purchase socks that display the Houston skyline and which reveal the name of the city along the back of the socks.

With Rep’ It City Socks, it is possible to enjoy Made in America footwear that is functional and remarkably stylish.

Check out their entire line of city socks here.

Bullet Blues’ Story: American Jeans and Apparel

Bullet Blues American Jeans

 

French native Isabelle Benoit founded Bullet Blues Custom Apparel in 2011. Beginning with a line of American jeans, Isabelle made it her goal to make every Bullet Blues item in the USA from premium materials. Why did Isabelle care so much about American clothing?

It all started with a visit to a memorial for American soldiers in Normandy. Visiting with her son a year before she founded the company, Isabelle was moved by the almost 10,000 men who died and were memorialized at the Colleville-sur-Mer memorial. She felt an almost personal connection because after all, she was French and both of her grandfathers were imprisoned during the war.

After returning to the US, Isabelle wanted her next business venture to say something about her respect and gratitude for the sacrifices American soldiers made for their country and others around the world. So she chose the name Bullet Blues to honor the bravery and the bullets spent in the defense of freedom.

Bullet Blues started with American jeans, and the success of the denim line led to expansion into more denim products and a growing line of women’s fashion items. These trendy and high quality styles are more than great to look at. Since they are manufactured in the US, they support American jobs and contribute to the economy.

Check out all of Bullet Blues items on Apple Pie!

West Paw Design: Dog Toys, Dog Beds and More

West Paw Design Dog Sweaters

A lot of pet owners are surprised by the low quality of the materials and techniques used in the manufacture of their pet’s toys and bedding. Stuffed toys that tear apart easily and cause choking when the stuffing is swallowed, or when small parts are consumed. Rubber toys that fragment easily and cause digestive problems, and bedding that cannot endure a bit of bored chewing or digging, can all lead to problems for pets and owners alike. This is why West Paw Design has created a full array of animal safe products.

From their noise making dog toys to their impervious dog bedding, West Paw Design has gone to great lengths to ensure the safety of the pets we love. Crafted from durable materials, the many different items available from the firm are also non-toxic and as safe as possible.

Based in Bozeman, Montana the West Paw Design firm avoids using any materials that contain harmful BPA or phthalates and ensures that all of the products are recyclable and safe for use.

Why put an animal at risk by using low quality toys and bedding? For the same prices you can get “Made in the USA” products that rely on the best materials and which use only the best assembly techniques.

Check out West Paw Design on the Pie.

 

West Paw Design Balls

Black & Denim: American T-Shirts with a Vintage Feel

Black & Denim T-Shirts

Using “Made in America” as a source for inspiration, the garment firm known as Black & Denim really sticks to its theme. Not only are their men’s garments made in the USA, but all of the materials sourced for them are American too.

Called a “lifestyle” brand, the garments made and distributed by Black & Denim are fashionable without being trendy. This means that they can become wardrobe classics without also breaking the budget. They are comfortably designed for modern men and feature an array of unique and interesting garments.

Among the most wearable are their many different t-shirts and tanks. These feature artisan designed logos and graphics and use various techniques to give them the look of vintage and classic garments. They also use a lot of military themes in their designs as well.

Most of the graphics are linked directly to the USA theme that has so inspired the firm, and and their american t-shirts feature classic logo designs, images based on popular cultural themes, and even just well-made plain t-shirts.

The idea behind Black & Denim can be easily seen in the casual and yet enduring features of the garments and products they offer, and it is no wonder that their items are popular choices.

Bildopolis Cardboard Box Fort Building Toy

Bildopolis Cardboard Box Forts

Not planning on buying a new washer or dryer soon? Tossed the box that the new fridge arrived in? That’s okay; your kids can still enjoy a classic “box fort” thanks to the company known as Bildopolis.

Based in San Francisco, California, this firm makes a flexible and unique pre-packaged box fort that can be custom designed to suit any kid’s (or adult’s) wishes. The way it works is simple – the child uses the 26 lightweight panels to create any type of fort desired. They can use the basic squares as walls or roofing, they can employ the rectangles as doors or half walls. The triangles allow for the creation of turrets and pyramids, and the “special” squares feature windows, doors, and even skylights. The “dots” are used to connect the panels together, and the child gets to work building.

Not only does the building kit from Bildopolis allow a child to construct their own buildings, but they also teach some of the most fundamental steps in architecture, engineering, and design too. Kids can make almost any sort of fort or building with a single kit, and they can be combined to make even more advanced options. This is a great indoor or outdoor project that is both fun and educational.

The American Dream – Entrepreneurs

American Dream for Blog

We’re going to be writing a series of posts on American entrepreneurs, and the American Dreams they created for themselves and forged a path for others.  These posts will cover not only the people behind the fabulous American brands we carry at Apple Pie, but also stories from famous and not-so famous American entrepreneurs who created products we know and love today.

Despite popular opinion, the American Dream is still there for the building; people are doing it every day.  If you’re considering making this your own, you may want to take three minutes to read this guide to the American Dream from @michaelport.

It’s this innovation that is unique in our country.  This ability, regardless of background, to work hard and build something from nothing.  The path is not easy, and failure happens, lots.  But those who survive create the foundation of our economy, small business owners.

We’re proud to carry a bunch of products from these small, but growing companies.  While we have some large companies in our fold as well, it’s these smaller businesses with the biggest opportunity for growth.  We’re happy to be supporting them.  So go buy something!

If you know of an American entrepreneur you think should be featured, send us some background and we’ll dig in.

Till next time.

American Baby Clothes with Giving Sewn In™

Cradle

One of the amazing benefits for us of building what we have built and doing what we do is meeting the incredible entrepreneurs and business leaders we get to meet.  Our American brands range from large and well established to new and innovative.  Some you would consider general brands you see every day, some are just starting to grow within their niche.  Cradle&Thread would definitely be the latter in both cases – new and hungry, speaking to a developing subsegment in the market place of those people who seek product companies with a greater purpose in life.  A purpose to not only be economically successful, but to also provide greater good for the world.  Think of Tom’s Shoes but  replace their off-shore manufacturing with Made in USA.

Cradle&Thread makes high quality baby clothing including tops, bottoms, sweaters, hats, blankets, and bibs.  All of their products are made from the best materials possible, will last long enough to be multiple hand-me-downs, are offered at competitive prices and of course, American made.  Along with their products being amazing, there is the added benefit that for every $100 in goods they sell, they donate a set of clothing (an entire set) to a child in need – they call it Giving Sewn In™.  The sets themselves called ThreadBoxes, which they refer to as crowdsourced giving.

We were fortunate enough to bump into the founders of Cradle&Thread Jarrett and Christina Helms, randomly through our normal product sourcing.  Now we are excited to introduce you to them, their amazing American baby clothes and the wonderful cause behind it all.

What is “Made in USA”?

What is Made in USA

When we started Apple Pie, the goal was to build the best way to shop for American products.  As we went into the process of identifying the categories and leading products therein, we discovered a bunch of noise around what constitutes a product that is “Made in the USA”.

The purpose of this post is to: a) share the policies of the FTC on this topic, b) share our own thinking, and c) gather your thoughts on the matter.

WHAT THE FTC SAYS

In summary, the FTC has two classifications.  **These are paraphrase, the actual policy can be found here.

1) An “UNqualified” claim of something being Made in the USA.  This means that all (or substantially all) products components must come from the USA, as well as the final assembly of the product must be done in the USA.  Example is the kids iPad case from Guided Products.

2) A “qualified” claim is when the final assembly is done within the USA, but a meaningful set of components comes from overseas. An example of this is the well publicized Element TV that is assembled in Detroit, or  Apple moving assembly of some if its computers to the USA.

WHAT WE THINK

Here at Apple Pie, we want more manufacturing jobs in the USA.  Some manufacturing jobs are skilled, some less so.  Some are creating from scratch, some are assembling pieces into a final product.  We’ve seen the quality, breadth and availability of made in USA products increase and are excited to bring as many of them to you as possible.  So we sell products with both classifications.

We had a dilemma here about one of the down pillows we offered for sale.  Pillows aren’t easy to assemble, nor the raw materials easy to gather.  All the down comes as a sustainable byproduct of the food industry.  The problem was the shell/cover was made in China (and labeled as such), shipped to the US and the assembly work (including a difficult and patented stuffing system that makes the pillow more comfortable) was done in Iowa.  In our belief system, this pillow is made in the USA. But because the only visible label (on the shell) said Made in China, we had to pull it.

RAW MATERIALS

The land and industry within our borders does not produce every kind of raw material.  As a result, a massive amount of products have components and materials that need to come from overseas.  When our land can produce the materials (steel as an example), there is often governance and public opinion driving the mining of such materials outside our borders.  But we all use steel don’t we?

HIGH VALUE JOBS

We often see high value (and high paying) research, design and innovation jobs kept here on our shores, while moving more labor-intensive, lower paying jobs overseas.  Do we want more of both, or just one?

What do you think?  Strong opinions one way or the other?  Is this a sorting feature you’d like to see as we expand selection, so you can narrow down the most core products?

Try American Jewelry for a Change

Studio Penny Lane BraceletsLet’s all be honest, at least once in our lives we’ve seen something that said “American made” but left us thinking, ‘America has got to be able to do better than that’. Studio Penny Lane is one of those companies that will never leave you ashamed.

One foundation of Penny Lane’s offerings is their american jewelry collection. Whimsical and vintage, many of their pieces focus on charms, or in many cases real life pennies. If one of these doesn’t make you feel lucky, we don’t know what will. The necklaces tend to have copper chains that feel right at home with the pennies. The bracelets feature leather bands, copper beads, or recycled glass. There’s something for just about any occasion.

When Laurie Libman-Wilson looked at founding Studio Penny Lane, one of her goals was to contribute to mindful awareness education programs. For those not familiar with that term, mindful awareness is a method that encourages positive thinking to contribute to mental health. In an increasingly complex and competitive world, kids thrive best with all the help they can get to understand how to maximize their own thoughts and develop mature ways of handling stress and other stimuli.

Studio Penny Lane JournalsThe penny is a bit of change, and change is exactly what Studio Penny Lane hopes to achieve.

Fortunately for us, their change can also help accessorize our outfits. The good news too is that jewelry is not the only option. Aside from necklaces, charms and earrings, Penny Lane came up with even more options. Also check out their leather journals and themed tops.

Studio Penny Lane, like everything else on Apple Pie, is made in the USA. Really, how could they not be? Abe Lincoln’s face is everywhere. Come on over and browse Studio Penny Lane on Apple Pie!