Tag Archives: not made in china

Is the quality really better?

Last week at article club (yes, writers must also read) while briefly discussing not made in China, I got asked a question; do you find the quality of the things you buy better (than made in China)?

Honestly, not really. Or, yes and no. Let me elaborate.

Do I find clothing made in USA to be of outstanding quality? No. But definitely just as good as what I bought before, j.crew and banana. My favorite pricey (Chinese) sweaters from said companies all developed fuzzies after a few washes. And some broken seams have surely occurred. Do I find leather shoes from Brazil to be better quality than leather shoes from China? Maybe a little actually, but unfortunately not enough to justify the challenge and the extra dollars. brazil

But, then there’s the Harley Davidson my husband owns. An “American made” brand for American riders? Nah. Spend 5 minutes close up and you’ll notice all the parts are imported Chinese crap (it’s breaking down after only 400 miles!) and really what we have here is what people call “Assembled in America” (I just love it when they say that!). When my man added a handmade Roland Sands exhaust system, we could really tell the difference. Outstanding, American craftsmanship and quality. It is, no doubt, the best looking part of the bike. So in that case; the Harley representing China (how sad!), the exhaust representing America, yes, much better made right here.

I think the old saying “Chinese merchandise is bad quality” is just not true anymore. Some of it is cheap and poorly made (bolts, nuts, everything at Walmart, that keychain by the register). Some of it is quite well made, quality-ensured and expensive (Apple, Fossil).

Good thing for me, this challenge has little to do with quality of product and all to do with quality of life, oceans and air. And that, I don’t need to elaborate on, do I?

As if my husband needed more reasons to shop… (Made in USA menswear: #lumbersexual)

I was excited to read this week, that Target is joining the made in America trend by adding some locally made collections to their ginormous offering of products.

Unfortunately 1. It seems the collection will be online only. Call me old-fashioned but I like trying clothes on before I buy them, touching the fabric and feeling the fit.

And 2. It’s all menswear! (at least for now) But whenever the hashtag is lumbersexual, I’m definitely interested.

But, hey, wait a minute. So far, throughout being on a not made in China challenge, I’ve actually stumbled across a lot more trendy and modern menswear made in USA, than I have women’s.

This challenge was not about making my husband look hotter and me looking standstill-ish at all (believe me), but it seems the industry is kind of working against me. Want proof? Just check out the rugged, sexy (spend-lots-of-money) websites of Iron & Resin, Tellason and 3sixteen.

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One of the latest purchases we made for hubby was a red brushed flannel twill shirt from Pendleton Woolen Mills, which we picked up at The Reserve Supply Co. in Houston for around $100. Great quality, perfect fit, American-made.

It even inspired his young nephew to jump on the “lumbersexual” trend! Well, thankfully, more like #lumbercute.

Guys, you’ve got it good.

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Check out my full list of awesome men’s wear and goods at my Made in USA Products page! Link here.

And the award for most boring baby gift goes to… (the one who shops local)

Isn’t January supposed to be a laid back month? All you have to do is 1. not spend any money 2. get your lazy post-holiday butt to the gym 3. blog. Yeah, not so much. Instead I had an unexpected work trip, a side of drama, visitors staying at the house, and a baby shower to attend.

A baby shower may not be a big, time consuming deal for everyone, I get that. But when it’s for a dear friend, whom you want to get a great gift and you’re on a not made in China challenge? Think “huge task”.

Registred at: Babies r’ Us. What a freaking nightmare. Not that she hadn’t registered for all types of things in a wide price range… But everything on that list (6 pages) was made in China. Everything except a diaper box (the actual plastic container was also made in USA) and laundry detergent.

Come on! That’s sad. And I only came to that conclusion after, like, an hour of navigating around the store, map in hand (yes, there is a map on the registry list) checking every single tag. Find the item, flip it over, search for origin, make my disappointed face. Next item; repeat.

Possibly the longest time a baby-less woman has ever spent in that (horrible) store.  Only to walk out with diapers and detergent I probably could have gotten at Target. Still, Anna 1, China 0. Boring or not.

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Wooptie. What an exciting gift.

My first photoshoot: An American made (winter) outfit

I’m so lucky, one of my friends happens to be a hobby-photographer! She offered to take some pictures of me for the blog, and though I am a bit rusty when it comes to standing infront of the camera… I thought this is as good a time as any, and I decided to take my new 7 for all mankind jeans out for a spin behind her house.

I paired them with my Richter Goods made in Texas tee and Canada Goose jacket. I’ve had this jacket for 6 years, I still love it, and it kind of looks brand new. Great quality indeed.

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Look at them American tags!

These are the modern straight 7’s – made in USA of imported fabric. I wouldn’t go as far as to call them a bargain, but I did get two pairs for 207 dollars at the outlet! Which is about half price compared to retail. Outlets are my friends.

The boots? “Model’s own”. Isn’t that what they say? Actually, I bought them in Europe in 2010, and I don’t know where they’re made or what brand they are. They’re warm and I like them a lot!

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Made in Canada parka, Made in USA jeans & Made in USA t-shirt.

These pictures came out so beautiful! Thank you Shutterluv by Ashley photography!

First there was a pug, then there was a baby, then there was a pug

Baby Ella is not only beautiful, chubby and the happiest baby I know, she is also an expert poser. Posing in her “Pug Life onesie” that is, which auntie got her for Christmas. Why Pug Life? See, her mom’s got a pug. (A pug that is most definitely enjoying less attention since baby Ella made the scene in late July).

It might have been the case, that Ella’s mom really wanted something different Christmas morning, like a made in China binky with an animal attached. Sorry, I only give Anna-proof gifts (her words – not mine). So as you probably know, there is something in it for me (and our economy) to go with a pug life outfit instead.

Morado Designs, out of Vermont, make handmade baby gifts using US-sourced organic cotton and simple, colorful prints. Looking to shop online, quite a few styles are sold out (like all of their baby blankets), so the strategy would be to get what you want, when you see it. I also fell for the adorable box, no need for gift wraps.

Supporting companies that make things right, that is how I roll, and it makes it so much easier to be me when I find some things that are cute as hell, just like Ella deserves. Yay.ella2

And when it’s hot and ready, then dreidel I shall drink

There’s nothing like enjoying hot spiced wine, with a loved one (or two) on a cold December night. The smell of cinnamon, cardamom and red wine fills the house and creates that Christmas feeling. Add a few ginger snaps, music and a fire place; it’s perfection.

This year I actually got myself a little present (say what!) – 6 oz. tumbler glasses, which we will use only for these cozy winter nights. Made in USA, of course, with tiny blue winter leaves. Or winter leaves is what I thought it was until I read the label… “Dreidel tumbler” it said. Oh, what the heck, I like dreidels!

And I love it when Christmas decorations are in unexpected colors, like blue. Where I bought these cuties? All-time favorite, also known as the land of inspiration (and empty wallets); Crate and Barrel. At only a few dollars each, for once I didn’t break the bank.

Happy Holidays!

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Santa, baby, bring me boots

Recently, I talked about the importance of choosing your leather goods carefully. Need a refresher? Check out this post.

But, as a matter of fact, I’m pining over a little something something leather right now. I am madly in love with the Timberland Boot Company. Classic styles, outstanding quality and hues that will last for years.

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So what’s the deal?

Pricy for sure, ranges between $250 to $300 for women, up to $425 for men. That said, here’s the beautiful part, they’re all hand made in Arkansas with leather sourced from a Chicago leather company, using only native hides. They’re unlined for comfort, with leather stacked heels and a leather footbed.

For now, I’m only dreaming of these boots. They’re not on my need list since I have boots and I live in the South. But Santa, if you’re reading this, I’d like a pair of the Rust Distressed Gavie Coulter Boots, size 7. (Thank you!)

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Most importantly, next time I’m out shopping for boots I’ll remember where to look first. Great style, made right. Yes please. That most definitely falls under the category of choosing my leather goods carefully.

Soft, adorable and locally grown

Because all babies are, undeniably, just that. 100% organic? Well I guess that depends on what mommy’s been eating and moisturizing with.

IMG_3477Anyway, Locally Grown Clothing Company is making lifestyle statement onesies for ages 0 and up. You can order these onesies online and pick a design representing the state you live in or whatever look you like! I got these at Whole Earth Provision Co. in Houston.

Not only designed and manufactured right here, materials are also sourced from the USA. Not a lot of companies can say the same. Love this!! And my beautiful friend, who got this gift of local baby fashion, loved them too. Win-win.

Can’t wait to see the baby, due February, rock these two styles.

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The soft & luxurious tee of your dreams

But it’s not a dream – the Richter Co. based and made in San Antonio, Texas, has made it a reality; the softest tee you will ever own. With their soft textiles and low cut V’s, these craftsmen are bringing local back. And it’s pretty sexy.

Poly-Rayon mix, hand crafted, with a variety of styles like crew necks, pocket tanks and ¾ sleeved tees – made in Texas garments are only a click away. And wow, it’s affordable – less than $20!

The verdict: made right (here) heaven.

And I LOVE the tag.

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I’m a scrapbooker and scotch glue is my stick

Maybe only HGTV junkies like myself know this commercial. “I’m a painter and Scotch blue is my tape”. Well, I am a painter (occasionally) and scotch blue is my tape*.

But this is about glue. Who knew one could blog about glue?

Something as simple as buying glue stick is a challenge for a not made in China shopper. Recently on a late Saturday night – being super crafty – I ran out of glue and had to get some ASAP. First visit: CVS, where they carry the Elmer brand of glues. That’s what the kids all use, right? And guess what, it’s made in China. Panic. The content of a glue stick is proprietary, which is understandable (and convenient for the manufacturer too).

Second stop: Walgreens and they had Scotch glue – which turns out to be made in Mexico. So freaking excited. Excited about glue! I guess I can say I do enjoy the small things in life! The results: super cute scrapbook pages, if I do say so myself.

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*Scotch blue painters tape is made in USA or Mexico.

 

I am a beauty-blogger too. No, not, really.

I don’t blog about beauty. Two reasons:

1. I don’t really invest any time or money in make-up. My best friend, who is a bit of an expert, would laugh if she had to read a beauty blog by me. What should I be sharing, my semi-annual mascara purchase?
2. It is so easy to buy domestic beauty products. They are everywhere actually. Favorites include Burt’s Bees, Ole Henriksen and Neutrogena (nothing with microbeads though!). You might want to check these brands out immediately, based on my extensive research and experience mentioned in point 1.

Yet, here I am, blogging about beauty products. Well, it’s right up my alley this time.

My skin had been acting out, so I decided to get a Bare Minerals foundation (splurge!) and I needed a brush. The lovely lady that color-matched me at ULTA showed me a brush she liked. To her surprise, I asked her if she had something not made in China, maybe something domestic or European. She had never had that request before and she wanted to help me look.

We flipped over a lot of packages without success. Surely something as expensive as Lancôme ($48.50) must be made in France? But no. She was shocked and asked me why I was doing a not made in China challenge. I told her about my cause, the pollution issue, the transport, the horrible working conditions.

After we established that all the brushes at ULTA were made in China she said she couldn’t believe it, that she had never thought about it before and how could that be? (Yay, I made an impact.)

I left without a brush, but continued my search. I checked all of the common places like CVS, Walgreens, Sephora, Macy’s, Target. Sephora had quite a few brushes where the tags didn’t even say. That seems illegal to me, and normally means China.

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Having no luck there, I went to Origins, Aveda and Mac too. AND The winner is Aveda’s foundation brush.

40 dollars, assembled in USA, partly sourced in Korea. Origins is a close second, also assembled in USA, but the tag didnt’t tell me where the materials are from, so a bit of a gamble. Mac has brushes from Japan and France. Happy to see there are some not made in China options at least!

After all that investigative work, I ended up finding a brush at the bottom of my drawer, which I rejuvenated. Reuse and reduce is always the best option – even a shiny, fluffy brush from Aveda can’t beat that.

While you fight for flats, I’ll take a bracelet

I finally faced my fears and headed to the premium outlets. “Fall fashion here I come” type deal.

Tory Burch, has moved a bit further up my list of places I like. It is, for sure, one of the busiest places in the outlet, one needs to battle a few fashionistas, in a so called “fight for flats” but it’s normally worth it. A few months ago I did get a pair of the famous Tory Burch flats (Brazilian made) and had to skip on a matching Chinese bracelet, but as of this Saturday, I am the proud owner of an even cuter bracelet, made right here. Wow, so excited. Brown leather, double wrap with gold emblems.

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Made in USA heaven, also known as New Balance, didn’t let me down either. Pink sneakers for me, yes please, the deal; 32 bucks! And who knew, even the paper bags are made in USA.

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I did have to compromise on quite a few fine-knit sweaters (my favorite thing). Banana had a grey one with a red Vespa, Nautica had stripes and anchors, J-crew had some cardigans I really liked. But I passed. I did splurge on an imported sweater from Tommy H. Sure, I don’t like spending lots of cash on imports from the east but a girl’s gotta wear something. That something might as well be a soft, off white popover with faux-leather details from Philippines. Perfect for cold days in the office.

Despite all this success for me, my husband (also an active member of the not made in China challenge) still managed to come home with more shoes and tops than I! How does he do it?!

Too young for comfort (-able shoes)

Last week I was excited to hear about SAS shoes for the first time. Apparently all made in Texas(!) and super comfortable. I was told they are ugly, but I was still hopeful after reading about their manufacturing and quality, and some of the sandals looked ok online. I made my husband come with me and we gave the store a try. I don’t want to offend anyone but I am probably 50 years too young to wear SAS. Why do comfortable shoes always have to be for older people with wide feet? And I sooo wanted to like them, and be wearing 100% USA-made shoes. Sob sob.

New try. New balance dot com. And yes. I may have spent more than a few minutes trying to design my own custom, perfect sneaker online (this may or may not have happened during work hours). Pink with purple, or all orange, because I like orange, or maybe black?

70% of the value of the sneakers, they say, are made here upon order, so they have the right to label it made in USA. It’s pretty cool too, how they are the only big-brand sneaker maker that produces some (1 of 4 pairs) of their products here still.

Press purchase and 6-8 days later, colorful, one of a kind sneakers at my door with a much coveted tag. This is more my type of SAS – stylish adorable sporty.

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A Fashionista can’t do this – lucky I’m not one

Almost 6 months into the challenge and it probably goes without saying that I haven’t bought a lot of clothes this year. Yes, stylewise I am at a standstill.

I’ve been looking for cute, ethical garments, but most of the things I liked were off limits. It’s very frustrating to find that the high dollar stores (Anthropology) and the low dollar ones (H&M) all sell clothes from the same places; China, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

More specifically, good looking Made in USA clothes are even harder to find!

Eileen Fisher has a made in USA line, and of course American Apparel is all made in USA, but unfortunately for me, neither brand is really my style. I did discover that you can search on Nordstrom.com after Made in USA and a bunch of things come up. Don’t check out the women’s ballet flats section though – utterly depressing… but lots of lovely dresses and active wear. And as far as I understand, you can return items at a store near you.

As stylish + USA seems somewhat impossible, I surrendered and got some Tory Burch flats and wedges made in Brazil recently. I looked at matching bracelets but they were all made in China. So what happened to all the leftover leather from the Brazilian shoe factory? It wasn’t enough to make bracelets?

I’ll have to accept that I’ll be a bit untrendy summer of 2014 (“that’s so 2013!”). Maybe I’ll get my groove back and find some cute things in the fall. I just need some extra energy, prepare for failure, hope for success, plan to spend a whole weekend shopping and read a gazillion tags…

I can do this!

To my dear Crate & Barrel; Thanks for making it easy to shop made right (here)!

We moved into our house 2 years ago, and only now have we finally decided on a bed frame for our master bedroom. Yes, we take our time. The winner; a royal brown quadrant king bed from ever so stylish Crate and Barrel.

I love Crate and Barrel. I love their webshop too, because they actually list where the furniture is made! All online retailers, in my opinion, should tell you where things are made, but very few do. It makes shopping online so much easier and safer! Sure there are pieces from China, but at least Crate and Barrel tell you. I did a random check in all sections (furniture, accessories, towels) and it is always listed under “Details and Dimensions” or “Details”.

The bed we fell I love with, is custom made right here in North Carolina. The fabric is from Taiwan, that’s not exactly grand, but at least it’s all upholstered in USA.

The bed had a 6-8 weeks delivery (they had to make it for us!) time, but it was worth the wait! Not to go too much in to details about this, but their delivery service was great and when you call them, an actual person picks up the phone! Must be that friendly midwestern way of doing things, right?

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Now I need to dig through all our moving boxes, the ones that are still left unopened, to see what to put up on the walls. We’ve also decided to paint the nightstands blue, to add some color to the room.

See that little blue pillow? It’s made in America from Bed, Bath and Beyond! I am shocked they had something domestic!! I love that vintage look too, and for 24.99 – it was a steal.

Even the most common, mainstream stores can surprise you, just read the labels. And, hey, no judging on my bed making skills, please :)