Happy Fourth of July!

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On the Fourth of July I am filled with gratitude. When we are born in this country, we have won the lottery of birth. To live a life of freedom and opportunity is a blessing unimaginable in many parts of the world.

Especially recently, as countless children take journeys at great peril to make their way across our border they remind us of the gift we have been given – and how much others would sacrifice to have the same opportunity.

This is the first country to be built around an idea – not religion, not ethnicity, not geography. The first sentence of the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence states it beautifully:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

As we strive to work to be worthy of the many gifts we have been given, July Fourth gives us an opportunity to stop and count our blessings.

We hope you will join us in celebrating our freedom and those who protect us – our troops, firefighters and police by ringing your bell at 2pm on July 4th. You can find out more about this tradition at No Greater Love (ngl.org).

Happy Fourth of July!

Pet Head Knows the Benefit Of ‘Made in USA’ on the Label

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When Kyara Mascolo was preparing to launch yet another popular brand of hair-care products, she turned to manufacturers who had created her earlier successes. The reasons were simple: They knew their business, and they also happened to be in the United States.

“We chose to work with local companies because we’ve established relationships with them that go back years and years in developing professional beauty products,” Kyara explains. “We know that items produced in the U.S. are a favorable choice in our markets, and we’re pleased to put ‘Made in USA’ on each and every bottle.”
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Rebuilding an American Supply Chain

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Clothworks is a Seattle textile company with five brands of fabrics, including a new one grown and manufactured completely in the United States. Since the launch of American Made Brand (AMB) fabrics a few weeks ago, the Clothworks shipping dock has been jammed with pallets for shipment of AMB products to independent quilt shops and fine fabric retailers across the country.

“What we’re doing with American Made Brand fabrics is making everyone at Clothworks happy,” the company’s owner, Ted Hoffman, said last week. “When we were developing the supply chain, we even kept it quiet from the employees, but once we explained what we were doing, we could see a certain pride in them, a kind of patriotism. And now, as word gets around about our new American-made fabrics, we’re seeing the same tremendous response from our customers.”

Clothworks and its AMB line is an example of the type of manufacturing innovation and consumer support needed to create a product that is truly American, from the cotton fields to finished product. Unfortunately, the current Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade negotiations could cause the whole effort to unravel.

According to a report by the Congressional Research Service, the TPP has the potential reduce U.S. textile exports at the early part of the supply chain, further eroding American textile infrastructure and capabilities. To expand American job growth in higher value sectors, the cotton grown here should not be exported as a raw material – but instead transformed into beautiful finished products like the textiles created by American innovators like Clothworks.

In Stealth Mode

After a successful career at Microsoft, Hoffman decided to buy Clothworks, which seemed like a perfect fit. “We looked at several businesses and this one struck a nerve with us, it really fit our skills,” said Hoffman, who heads up management and operations with the help of vice president Miryam Peterson, while his wife, Candice Hoffman, heads up the creative side.

The business they purchased was truly international, with partners based across the globe in Japan, Korea, China, Indonesia, India and Thailand. Five years into the business, after he had his bearings, he asked the question: “Why can’t we do this here? We started asking the question and the answer is that it has all disappeared and the remaining segments have an export focus.”

“As the cotton moves up the supply chain, the focus is getting it overseas,” he continued. “It took a while to figure out who the people were who could do something here.” Once Hoffman found the right people and asked them if they had thought about producing textiles in the US, they said that they hadn’t considered it in a while, because they hadn’t been asked.

Once he realized that reconstructing the supply chain would require substantial resources, he brought the idea back to his team. “How do we put some of this back together? How do we figure something out to create a product that is truly American Made,” he asked. “Everyone loved the idea.”

“We’ve been in stealth mode for two years,” Hoffman said of the time he spent assembling a U.S.-only supply chain for AMB fabrics. “We had to talk to a yarn spinner and get them to spin our particular size of yarn, and then talk to a weaver to have a particular combination of threads woven, then move on to a print plant for more discussions.”

“As far as I know, we’re the first company to assemble this type of supply chain in a long time,” he said.

Gaining Momentum

According to the National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO), 565 textile plants were shuttered between 2000 and 2012. Despite this, several textile manufacturers have recently built new US manufacturing facilities. According to the NCTO, five new plants have opened here in the past 18 months.

Hoffman said he has witnessed a momentum building in the industry. Some of the previous advantages held by offshore manufacturers – especially low labor costs – are declining, which is helping US companies regain some competitiveness.

“We’re also seeing kind of a cultural movement occurring that’s really supporting American manufacturing,” he said. “There have been a number of positive signposts along the way.”

Learn more about American Made Brand here: http://www.clothworks.com/index.php/brands/index/profile/id/24/

A Made in the USA Earth Month

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What does Earth Month have to do with locally manufactured products? Plenty.

People honor Earth Month in many ways: enjoying nature on a walk or hike, participating in an environmental event, increasing awareness about environmental issues large and small or gathering with neighbors and friends to make a change locally.

We would like to suggest adding one more item to the list – think about where and how the products you purchase are made.

Transportation and electricity contribute to our carbon footprint, and so do the products we consume. Where and how something is made can make a big difference on its environmental impact – tons of difference. The shift of manufacturing from the United States to China has resulted in an additional 500 million metric tons of CO2 emissions. That is the same amount as the entire carbon footprint of Italy.

China is now the largest emitter of carbon in the world, and as much as one-third of that carbon load can be traced to exports of goods consumed by Americans and Europeans.

This is bad for the earth, it is bad for the United States (that pollution cloud travels over the ocean and eventually impacts our air quality), and it is bad for the Chinese people – China’s air pollution kills over 1 million people a year according to the World Bank.

There are more risks ahead. Current trade negotiations have the potential to extend environmental risks beyond the agreements in the 1990s that led to the unbalanced trade situation with China. So, on this Earth Day, we encourage you to take action and let your member of congress know how you feel about trade and its impact on the environment: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find.

And, on a lighter note – enjoy some of the fun, innovative products created by American Entrepreneurs out of recycled materials like this fun Rocket, Beecology Handmade Soaps, or this colorful Food Storage Set from Preserve from recycled, bpa-free plastics so that nothing goes to waste.

Happy Earth Month!

Roberta’s Chocolates Wins Chocolatier of the Year

The first annual Footvote Chocolatier of the Year was announced today.  Roberta’s Chocolates of Denver, Colorado, won with the enthusiastic support of their fans.

Roberta’s chocolates are all made in Denver and range from classic handmade truffles to novelty items like the special chocolate bar for Valentine’s Day with multi-color LOVE letters and their Pink Ribbon of white chocolate.

Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to explore chocolate artisans across the country and the number of Chocolatiers making outstanding products is amazing. Both Cho

Both Chocolatiers and Chocolate Makers were considered in the contest. The difference is in the starting material – a chocolate Maker starts with the bean and a Chocolatier starts with baking chocolate. Not every artisan has the resources and scale to start their chocolate from scratch and both create delightful, creative confections. There is an excellent discussion of this difference from David Lebovitz, a top chef living in Paris, who boldly said, “The best chocolate in the world is made in the United States.”

Unlike years ago when people would look to Europe for the finest chocolates, now those looking for the finest chocolate need only to visit a shop in their neighborhood or a nearby city to find innovative, fresh chocolate made with heart.

About Footvote Inc.

Footvote is a place for discovering and supporting Made in USA products you love. We are driven to provide you with the information you need to vote with your feet. Footvote is the definitive resource for Made in USA products and information. For more information, visit www.footvote.com.

We Love American Chocolatiers

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As fans of our local chocolate maker, Theo – the first chocolate maker to create fair trade, organic chocolate in the United States, we decided that Valentine’s Day would be the perfect time to explore chocolate artisans across the country.
When we started, we did not anticipate how many wonderful Chocolatiers we would find.

Our exploration included both Chocolatiers and Chocolate Makers. What is the difference? A Chocolate Maker starts with the bean and a Chocolatier starts with baking chocolate. Not every artisan has the resources and scale to start their chocolate from scratch and both create delightful, creative confections. There is an excellent discussion of this difference from David Lebovitz, a top chef living in Paris, who boldly said, “The best chocolate in the world is made in the United States.”

Speaking of the best, our contest winner Roberta’s Chocolates has been delighting customers in Denver since 1995 based on the enthusiastic response of their fans. Roberta’s chocolates are all made in Denver and range from classic handmade truffles to novelty items like the special chocolate bar for Valentine’s Day with multi-color LOVE letters and their Pink Ribbon of white chocolate.

RobertasChocolatesA Delicious Display at Roberta’s Chocolates

Unlike years ago when people would look to Europe for the finest chocolates, now those looking for the finest chocolate need only to visit a shop in their neighborhood or a nearby city to find innovative, fresh chocolate made with heart.

We have included a directory of Chocolatiers by state below – and will continue to add to it as our community shares more of their favorites. Try your local chocolatier when you are looking for a delicious treat.

Alabama
Chocolate Gallery

Alaska
Modern Dwellers
The Alaskan Fudge Company

Arizona
Chocofin
Chocoláte
Cerreta Candy
Julia Baker

Arkansas
Martin Greer’s Candies

California
Chocolatier Blue
Compartes
Dandelion Chocolate
Mama Ganache
Socola Chocolatier

Colorado
Ritual Chocolate
Roberta’s Chocolate
Serendipity Confections

Connecticut
Bridgewater Chocolate
Munson’s Chocolates
Tschudin Chocolates

Delaware
Govatos
Sweet Serenity

Florida
Claude’s Chocolate
Mr. Ganache
Norman Love Confections
Olde Naples Chocolate
Peterbrooke
Royal Palm Chocolates
Sirard’s Chocolate

Georgia
Cacao Atlanta
Chocolate South
Maison Robert
Paul Thomas Chocolates

Hawaii
Padovani Chocolatier
Sweet Paradise Chocolatier

Idaho
Cowgirl Chocolates
Florence’s
The Chocolat Bar

Illinois
Chocolat by Daniel
The Little Chocolatier
Morkes Chocolates
Vosges Haut-Chocolate

Indiana
DeBrand Fine Chocolates
Ghyslain
The South Bend Chocolate Company

Iowa
Chocolaterie Stam
Simply Divine

Kansas
Annedore’s
Cero’s Candies
Cocoa Dolce

Kentucky
Art Eatables
Ghyslain
Old Kentucky Chocolates

Louisiana
Bittersweet Confections
Blue Frog Chocolates
Sucré

Maine
Black Dinah Chocolatiers
Dean’s Sweets
Haven’s Candies

Maryland
SibuSura
SPAGnVOLA Chocolatier
The Perfect Truffle
Zoë’s Chocolate Co.

Massachusetts
ChocoLee Chocolates
Cocoapelli Chocolates
Serenade Chocolatier
Taza Chocolate

Michigan
Birmingham Chocolate
Mindo Chocolate Makers
Patricia’s Chocolate

Minnesota
Chocolat Celeste
Just Truffles
St. Croix Chocolate Co.

Mississippi
Margaretes Fine Chocolates

Missouri
Christopher Elbow
Panache
Rick Jordan

Montana
La Châtelaine Chocolat
Posh Chocolat

Nebraska
The Cordial Cherry

Nevada
Ethel M.

New Hampshire
Unbridled Chocolates
Van Otis Chocolates

New Jersey
2 Chicks with Chocolate
Arriba Noir Chocolatier

New Mexico
Kakawa
Rose Chocolatier
Theobroma

New York
Black Hound
Jacques Torres
Kee’s Chocolates
MarieBelle
Mast Brothers
Xocolatti

North Carolina
Escazú Artisan Chocolates
French Broad Chocolates
The Chocolate Fetish
The Fudge Factory
Videri Chocolate Factory

North Dakota
Carol Widman’s Candy Company

Ohio
Coblentz
Esther Price
FS Chocolatiers
Sweet Designs

Oklahoma
Bedré Fine Chocolate
CocoFlow
Glacier Confection

Oregon
KeKau Chocolatier
Ladybug Chocolates
Lillie Belle Farms
Moonstruck Chocolates

Pennsylvania
Éclat Chocolate
Edward Marc
John and Kira’s

Rhode Island
Chocolate Delicacy
Garrison Confections
Hauser Chocolates
Sweenor’s Chocolates

South Carolina
Christophe Artisan
The Chocolate Tree

South Dakota
Chubby Chipmunk
Mostly Chocolates

Tennessee
Bradley’s Chocolate Factory
Olive and Sinclair
Paul’s Chocolate Gallery

Texas
Chocolate Secrets
Chocolate Bar
Cocoa Moda
Delysia Chocolate
Dude, Sweet Chocolate
Fat Turkey Chocolate

Utah
Amano Artisan Chocolate
Chocolate Conspiracy
Hatch Family Chocolates

Vermont
Birnn Chocolates of Vermont
Lake Champlain Chocolates
Laughing Moon Chocolates
Snowflake Chocolates
Vermont Nut Free

Virginia
Artfully Chocolate
Artisan Confections
Kingsbury Chocolates
Potomac Chocolate

Washington
Chocolopolis
Chocolati
Dilettante
Intrigue Chocolate
Oh! Chocolate
Tall Guy Chocolates
Theo Chocolate

West Virginia
DeFluri’s Fine Chocolate’s
Holl’s

Wisconsin
Candinas Chocolatier
DB Infusion Chocolates
Gail Ambrosius
Indulgence Chocolatiers
Seroogy’s

Wyoming
Atelier Ortega
Donells Candy
Meeteetse Chocolatier

DC
Co Co. Sala
Fleurir
J. Chocolatier