When everyone is rushing to create an e-commerce providing Americans with easy access to luxurious, foreign made products, rather than hobnobbing in high-end department store splurging on items we can’t afford, John Ruggieri reminds us the things we love are too made in America.
Former Men’s Accessories Buyer at Barneys New York, founded– an e-commerce of gifts and accessories all made an manufactured in the United States. Why this deserves the ultimate pat on the back? It syphoons money back to America and creates jobs in an economy which has a very high unemployment rate, so there’s never a worry of where and in what conditions these items were made.
Recently, we discussed with this former Barneys Buyer why such a leap in a new fashion direction
Give us a bit of your history in fashion and retail.
I have had the pleasure to work for and add my mark to some of the world’s best retailers-a mix of department store and specialty stores. My early experience in luxury goods at Gucci and Barneys New York enabled me to master the details of developing and producing some of the finest goods in the market. This allowed me to translate those details and techniques into more affordable, well-made product from men’s and women’s accessories to gifts and home décor at retailers such as Banana Republic, Kohl’s and Bath and Body Works.
Where did the idea of
I’ve had the idea of working with Made in America craftsmen and manufacturers for quite a while. With almost all the retailers I have worked with, the idea of Made in America wasn’t important to most. At the higher end, it was more important to buy and develop product in Europe than here in America. At the middle to lower end, it wasn’t even a discussion-the far-east was where you produced to get the best price. I saw a piece on ABC Nightly News where David Muir went into random homes and asked people to point out items that were made in America. Most came up empty handed. It amazed me that in a nation of consumers, so many Americans own nothing made here in our own country.
I think the “great recession” has been a wakeup call to many of US. While we all enjoy the things we own, we are now more aware of the impact our own purchasing patterns can make on the US economy. As a nation, we can help ourselves by helping small craftsmen and manufacturers grow and prosper. The bigger they become, the stronger we become.
After a successful career at Barneys why the change?
While Barneys was an important and enjoyable part of my journey, it’s certainly not the whole picture. I had the opportunity and the time to take on this project, to do something that truly inspires me. I love the interaction with the talented craftsmen and small manufacturers that I have met. I love the passion that they have for their own product. I hope we can grow together as our site continues to expand and to reach more people each day.
What’s unique about the e-commerce that separates it from potential competitors?
At True to US, our mission is to offer a curated collection of US Made, well-crafted products that you are not only be proud to give as gifts to your friends and family but also take pride in knowing that you are helping to make America stronger than ever. We are working with manufacturers and non-profit organizations to help promote products and services made in the USA. With each purchase, you are supporting American craftsmen and small businesses.
There are other Made in USA sites but none currently offer a focused offering at this end of the market.
With all the curated collaborations occurring now with designers, do you ever see this happening with you? Is it something you would even like to do?
I would love to work on such projects. We have already had that conversation with a few of our makers. I have worked with so many talented people in my career. It would be so much fun to bring like-minded designers and craftsmen together to create new and exciting gifts and accessories to highlight the best that America has to offer.
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