The “Made in the U.S.A.” movement has been gaining speed and, with hope, eventually will change the face of manufacturing and production of goods right here in America. As a strong proponent of American made products, I am always searching for brands who proudly manufacture right here in the U.S. of A. Lately, I have been watching Pearl Connection, a web-based store front, to see what new companies they feature. Pearl Connection is a dream-come-true store from the mind and entrepreneurial attitude of Jessica Jeppsson. The Charlotte, North Carolina based young professional is on a mission to bring forth only American companies that manufacture American made goods. Originally, Pearl Connection was dreamt up to be a brick-and-mortar store. Obviously this is pretty costly to get started, and in the day and age of internet branding and online shopping, a web-based store front was the perfect option. From here, read Jessica’s “from the heart back story” (as I like to put it) about Pearl Connection and why this should be one of your favorite stores:
“Back in February I created the logo, did the legal paperwork, and started
collecting brands, the first ones being Pitchfork Prep and Chicago
Belt Co (thanks Matt and Rob!). This took time, but I worked hard and
got the website launched in March. We now carry select products from
17 brands and are growing our brand and product selection every week.
We have several operating priorities at PC. One is to ensure all
products we carry are American-made. I personally interview the owners
of each brand to talk to them about their manufacturing process. If
any products/brands are questionable, I request a sample to see the
tags myself. Unfortunately, there are some brands out there that claim
to be “Made In USA” but are really only “Printed in USA” — I have to
keep a watch out for those to maintain our integrity.
Our second priority is customer satisfaction and engagement. We are
very active on our social media sites and try to engage potential and
existing customers as much as possible through contests, giveaways,
and other promotions. We’ve found this is a great way to bring
awareness to #MadeInUSA and boost our brand’s visibility. We have also
been able to help customers figure out sizing and answer other
questions via private messages on twitter and facebook. It’s
interesting to see how customer service has migrated over to social
platforms as well.
Our third priority is philanthropy. As you may have noticed, most of
our brands support causes other than just the bottom line. This isn’t
by accident. We give priority to brands who support communities, the
environment, medical research, and more. Here’s a list of our brands
and the causes they openly support:
Headbands of Hope: For every headband purchased, one is donated to a
girl with cancer and $1 is donated to St. Baldrick’s Foundation for
childhood cancer research.
Over Under Clothing: various canine rescue foundations
House of Southern Accents: Relay For Life
Ellis G Designs: Wounded Warrior Project
Great Lakes Collection: preservation and conservation of the Great Lakes
American Sockstar: for every pair of socks purchased, one is donated
to a homeless shelter
Some fun facts:
If we purchased 1% more in made in USA products, it would create
250,000 new jobs.
For every dollar spent on a Made in USA product, that same dollar
generates another $1.40 in revenue. It’s called the Multiplier Effect.
Right now, PC is just a three-person, part-time operation. There’s
me, who in addition to PC works a full-time job as an engineering
consultant in uptown Charlotte; Reid, our Sales & Marketing
Coordinator who is a student at NC State and leads our Campus Rep
program; and Selena, a high school student who is our Social Media
Intern and helps with order fulfillment. PC is funded exclusively
through my own personal finances, however, we are looking at doing a
Kickstarter campaign to raise enough money to brand our *own* products
to add to the existing collection.”
I could not have written the Pearl Connection story and done it justice the way Jessica just did. When I was doing my research for this post, I asked her to tell me in her own words the story about this special online destination. Broadcasting her passion for American made products would not have been done properly without her personal account of making her dreams come true. Head over to start shopping Pearl Connection, and be on the lookout for more brands and a possible Kickstarter campaign!