...Even though our competition is made in China.
Take My Face Off doesn't have direct competitors yet, but there are a lot of microfiber products out there. All of them market the idea that you can add water to the fabric and remove makeup without a cleanser. It might sound good, but our dermatologists and aestheticians say, "that's a terrible idea." Also, those products are made with super-cheap fabrics (and are made in China, as we've already mentioned).
We haven't seen anyone yet who markets textiles and shapes that are awesome for skin. This always surprises us, but the we know first-hand how hard it is to make something great. The fabric and shape we use are really hard for factories to sew. We've approached many manufacturers, only to find out that our order sizes weren't big enough for them to bother with, or they didn't have the specialized machines we require, or we found their sewing was sloppy, or they were going to charge outrageous prices (literally, higher than we charge customers). In some cases, we weren't comfortable with how they treat their workers. Even in the USA, we've seen a lot of factories that weren't clean and safe.
We would have assumed that because American manufacturing has suffered some setbacks, it should be easy to find people who can manufacture our product. The reality is far more complicated.
We've been approached by many companies who can make the items for us in China. All of the other brands in our category are made there. We've been tempted to leave the USA, and many of our advisers think it's a no-brainer. We can't guarantee we won't ever go overseas. But for now, we're very happy with our decision to stay in the USA.
First, there are some logistical issues. As a small company, our order sizes really vary. It doesn't make sense to go overseas until we have predictable volumes. Also, it can take two, three, or four months to get an order delivered from China. We don't usually have that kind of lead time.
A big issue for us is worker safety. We could partner with one of the organizations that has processes in place to ensure a Chinese factory is ethical and safe. But if we're not there, how can we be sure? This bothers us.
Also, being so focused on the environment and our carbon footprint, we don't love the idea of shipping the product so far. We do ship our fabric from Korea because we haven't found a domestic equivalent. But we're always looking for something better and something made in the USA.
Right now, our factory is in downtown LA. It's one of the cleanest, nicest, and safest in the region. It's certainly the best one we've seen. They make sportswear for some of the world's most ethical brands. Our cutting house is run with solar power and they recycle the fabric scraps. It's all a few towns away from our printer, where most of our packaging is made. The fabric importer is literally down the street from production.
This helps us when we're racing against the clock on a new, big order. It gives us the ability to pop in and see how things are going. It means we can fix mistakes within a day, rather than within weeks or months. And it gives us a deep understanding of how our product is made and how it affects the lives of the people making it.
There's something extremely satisfying about contributing to our local economy. We love participating up close rather than managing from afar. Our story is far from over, but our guess is that it will always be made in the USA.