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Manufacture This

The blog of the Alliance for American Manufacturing

For every purchase, $1 goes to support effort to bring manufacturing jobs back to the United States.

Toby Davis is out to revive textile manufacturing in the United States, one beanie at a time.

The Southern California resident is the owner of WUUL — standing for Workers United Union Labor — a small knitted headware company that sells American-made beanies. While Toby enjoys fashion, his real passion is centered around Keeping it Made in America. In fact, he's even pledged to donate $1 from every beanie sold to the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) to help bring manufacturing jobs to the United States!

We chatted with Toby about his company and what he hopes to achieve.

1. What inspired you to start manufacturing WUUL beanies in the United States?

Guilt and redemption. I have been in the apparel industry in one form or another for most of my career. I stood by as my industry outsourced most of their manufacturing to China and I did/said nothing until now.  Like most people at the time, I did not understand the ramifications of outsourcing to China and was seduced by ridiculously low prices. Why were the prices so low in China? An unfair playing field, illegal currency manipulation, subsidized exports, no environmental regulation, and unprecedented human rights abuses. The result of the last decade of outsourcing? Roughly 64,000 American factories have closed and 6 million jobs have been lost, mostly to factories overseas.

2. Why did you pick beanies? Why not something else?

Accessbility and messaging. I know a lot of industries have been effected by outsourcing manufacturing to China, for example, steel. The average person does not buy a gross of steel. However, the average person will buy a beanie. So, beanies are accessible and a great vehicle to carry my message on the front of all WUUL beanies: "Produced by Workers United Union Labor, Made in America." I want this message to resonate not only within my industry, but for all American manufacturing that has been decimated by outsourcing to China. 

3.  Can you tell us a little bit about how WUUL beanies are manufactured? What’s the start-to-finish process?

What's unique about WUUL beanies is who makes them. From start to finish, WUUL beanies are produced by Workers United Union Labor.

4. What obstacles did you run into when you were getting started? How did you overcome them?  

Returning manufacturing to America is no easy task, in fact it is quite daunting.  However, to eat a whale you need to take a first bite. Perhaps buying a WUUL beanie can be your first bite.

5. Why are you so passionate about Made in America products?

My children, my friends and neighbors and the future of my community. We need to make stuff in America for a prosperous future, for everyone.

6. What advice would you give to people looking to buy more American-made products, especially clothing and accessories?

Make an effort to look for the Made in America label. No joke, really make an effort and make a thoughtful purchase. There are so many great companies starting to manufacture in America again! Go to www.makersmonday.com for more information.

7. Where would you like to see the company go in the next few years?

More than 90 percent of beanies are manufactured overseas. My vision for WUUL is to steal a bigger chunk of market share each year, because consumers are demanding their goods to be Made in America.

8.  Is there anything else you would like to share?

The TPP agreement sucks and is bad for American manufacturing. Call your representative and give him/her an earful. 

Check out WUUL's line of American-made beanies here.