I have a list of criteria a mile long. These are just the basics: I want my products to made in the USA, I would like the people that make them to be paid fairly and with appropriate working conditions. I would like my products to be made without harm to the environment in mind and I would like them to last.
In 2008, not ever having patches made before I used a company out of Florida who I really thought made the patches themselves. Come to find out upon reordering, they did not. So naturally I called around to local embroidery businesses and branched out from there. No one could compete with over sea pricing. I wanted to keep my price point low for everyone especially the consumer. So after much deliberation and more research on the production of all my pretty designs, I *ahem* outsourced. This bummed me out and my husband tried to make me feel better with phrases like “global economy” and whatnot but I still felt like we should be able to make our own products here in the US. If anyone reading this knows of a company, please let me know. For now, Lisa, David Wong and Stanley Poon at http://netpropatches.com/ are my source! They do a terrific job in spite of the time difference, obvious location disparity and a bit of a language barrier (not on their part, but mine).
The stickers are made by the fabulous folks at http://www.stickergiant.com/ who are based in Colorado. The service is fast and excellent!
I make the buttons, magnets and clutches with my bare hands, because doing it while wearing mittens or gloves would be ridiculous.
The t-shirts. I have a love/hate relationship with these. At first I used a company called Continental Clothing Company. The shirts were not made in the USA but they had very strict criteria about who was making their shirts and reducing their carbon footprint. However, after ordering the first batch they fled the US and went strictly to the UK. So now, not only were they not made here but all the transporting from parts unknown to the UK and then from the UK to me was too much for my hoping-to-be-environmentally-friendly-brain to handle. You are probably laughing because I work for an airline, this hasn’t gone unnoticed. http://www.continentalclothing.com/page/about_us
I then found a company that is based in the US, with most of their shirts made in the US. Yippee! They have a large spectrum of colors and styles with some organic options too. There are a few downsides though, the shirts are incredibly small, not necessarily made for our regular American woman with breasts and say… bones. So you must go up a size or even two. Which is hard to do when you are bombarded with the American media and those stupid magazines already making you feel horrible for being anything but a size 2 or 4! I feel like cutting off the tags and resizing them myself. Don’t think I won’t.
My first batch of shirts were made by the people at the Vera Project. A cool, volunteer led music and art venue next to the Space Needle and EMP. Check it out, http://theveraproject.org/silkscreen/ They did a great job, but I pride myself on being crafty so I took a class, paid attention and used some of my hard earned cash on a four color press. By watching tutorials and a lot of trial and error, I am able to screen print the shirts myself using environmentally friendly ink. The pay sucks but the satisfaction of learning a new skill is well worth it!
I glossed over the clutches. I have the liner fabric made by http://www.spoonflower.com It is the coolest site. You can design fabric!!! I love ingenuity. So again, with my ridiculously talented and computer savvy husband, I now have a liner made up of vintage stewardesses as well as a safety information card option. Making the clutches is a laborious project and one I should charge more for. This is what happens, I cut the fabric and vinyl, then stencil the call button or airplane design onto the back. Cut that design out with an exacto knife (I am not kidding). From there I glue on the white vinyl, then stitch the decorative stitching around the design when the glue dries. Sew on the zipper, sew up the sides, turn it right side out and VOILA! You have a cute little bag to put your treats in!