An American Challenge

I am always looking for ways to learn and as I move forward with my American Made Kickstarter project, I am certainly learning a lot.


One thing I learned after having a professional crowdfunding advisor review my project is the “Made in America” tag is still not as popular as one would think. He explained to me that as much as people appreciate the idea of an item being made in America, when it comes down to it, they are more concerned about quality. Beyond that, when it comes to buying art and craft items, not only are they looking for quality, they are looking for something unique. He has a very valid point. I know there have been “Made in America” items which my husband and I decided not to buy because the quality wasn’t very good. We’d like something that is made in America, but we need something that lasts and that is the consensus of most Americans.


Building on this is something else I have learned. Perhaps I find it more of an interesting concept verses a learning moment. I have been searching for other bloggers who write about Made in America products. Many of the websites I’m coming across use the word “challenge” in their title. This got me wondering, why challenge?


For starters, challenge can be a verb or a noun. As a noun, it’s “a call to take part in a contest” (according to; it is also used to define something that is difficult to do. As a verb, it means “inviting someone to engage in a contest.”


Currently, it is a challenge to buy American made because we have sent so much of our manufacturing overseas. It is difficult to find items with the “Made in America” tag on them.


At the same time, groups are challenging us to give the concept of buying American made a try. They are challenging us to sift through the racks and shelves to find the tags. They are challenging us to purchase something that was made in America rather than overseas even if it might be more expensive. We are being challenged to do our part to support the local and national economy and really consider each purchase before we make it.


Are you up for the challenge? Do you ever find yourself checking tags in hopes of seeing “Made in the USA?” It’s interesting to try it and to see how much you can find.


Switching back to my original learning experience in all of this, I wonder how many people set out for American made items and find them to be more expensive or of lesser quality which leads them to buy something from overseas. I certainly understand going for quality over “Made in USA,” so this is an interesting concept for me. Maybe this is something American manufacturers need to keep in mind. This is an interesting time we live in. Quality and price take precedence over loyalty. Businesses need to focus on this in order to maintain loyalty and be successful.


Next time you go shopping I challenge you to compare tags. Investigate where things are made and compare quality. Which one do you prefer? Don’t worry, I won’t hold it against you if you don’t go American although I encourage you to try.


Speaking of, if you haven’t checked out my Kickstarter project, please check it out and pass the information along to your friends… Handcrafted Jewelry from American Made Materials


Thanks for stopping by!

GSmith Jewelry Promo 1


A New Adventure

For some time now I have been working on a new project with the intent of taking my jewelry in a slightly different direction. It’s time to create a niche product, or a jewelry line all my own. I have previously written about my love of all things American made and perhaps I have even hinted at my dream of creating an all American made jewelry line. This project is the first step in helping me to accomplish that dream.


With funding as my first major obstacle, I have turned to the internet to raise money for this project, which will be an extension of my current jewelry business, Gretchen Smith Jewelry. My goal is to raise enough money to buy the tools and supplies I need to get the line started and I will sell the finished jewelry through my website and possibly through local shops.


The project is set up through and it works on a concept called “crowdfunding.” Crowdfunding is different from standard financing because it reaches out to the public for support instead of specific investors.


Kickstarter is the ideal funding route for this project because it allows me to connect with a network of people who are as enthusiastic about small businesses as I am. It also allows me to reach out and connect with the growing network of businesses creating American made products.


In line with the guidelines, I have a set number of days to raise the funds I need or I do not receive any funding. For this project, I have a 30 day window from start to finish to reach my goal of $1,500. If the goal is not reached by June 12, all pledges are cancelled and the project will not be funded. If the goal is reached by June 12, I will receive the funding to start the new jewelry line and all financial backers who have pledged amounts over $20.00 will receive one of my new jewelry designs as a thank you for their support.


My dear readers, I do not like going around asking for money, but I encourage you to check out my project at the link below. I also ask that you pass the information and link onto your connections. Let’s see if we can get another American made business out there.

Here is the link: American Made Materials for American Made Jewelry

Thank you for stopping by!


For the Love of the Craft

As I sit here preparing for my first craft show of the year, I am thinking about just how much work goes into preparing for a craft show. What’s funny is I know there are a lot of people out there who do a lot more preparation than I do.


Usually two nights before the show I double check my desk to make sure I do not have any recently created pieces still laying there. If there are pieces on the desk, they get put away into their respective places to make sure they end up at the show. Then I double check my packaging supplies to make sure everything is together. I really should do this a few weeks in advance to make sure I have enough, but I never think of that. Some day that will catch up to me and I’ll be making a craft store run just before a show.


The night before the show I take all of my items, tables, chairs, canopy, displays, etc. down to my living room and pile them near the front door. From here I usually take an inventory to make sure I have everything I will need. However, I have forgotten things on more than one occasion. Usually, it’s not something I can go without either. Perhaps I should consider making a checklist for shows to ensure I really do have everything. It would probably save headaches and fuel (from running multiple trips home).


Craft show days are usually early mornings. Depending on the show and its location, we’re talking earlier than most people get going during the week for work. It’s really amazing that crafters are awake, friendly, and functioning at shows sometimes because they’ve been up before dawn, loaded their gear, unloaded their gear, set up their booth and, depending on the time of year, are sitting there freezing cold or frying hot. I have trouble being cranky on a normal day when I get up too early. So remember, if the crafter at the booth in which you are standing doesn’t seem quite awake, they probably aren’t.


Craft shows are not often paying the bills. These long days and the wear and tear on the body are not always at the expense of big payouts. Even if customers might think things are overpriced, please keep in mind that this is often what it costs to be in business these days. It’s a hard market to be in. We do this for the love of it and possibly a little extra change. If nothing else, it’s enough to keep the business/hobby going.


Why do I write all of this? Not to make people feel bad for us and come out to support us, but because I really find the entire concept of craft shows to be quite ironic. People do it for the love of their craft and for the hope of making a little extra money. At least, that’s why I do it. I hope to hit it big eventually, but for now, it’s a labor of love. Before I got into this business, I would look at crafters and I couldn’t help but think “Wouldn’t it be easier to get a real job?” Now that I’m doing this, I’ve learned most of them have a “real job” and they balance their craft on top of it. It’s all done for the love of the craft.


Speaking of, perhaps it’s time to make sure I have everything I need for this weekend’s show. It’s supposed to be beautiful weather so I’m hoping we have a great turnout. If nothing else, I get to spend the day with my sister sitting out in beautiful weather surrounded by other great crafters and we only have to travel across town to do it!

This weekend’s show is as follows:

Manheim’s Artist’s Alley

Location: Manheim Railroad Station, 210 S. Charlotte St., Manheim, PA 17545

Time: 12-5PM


Hope to see you there!