A few weeks ago my play mom called me and asked what I thought about the TPP Trans Pacific Partnership that was being promoted by President Obama. I told her in pretty simple terms, I don’t think about it because I attempt to not place a lot of effort into politics since I have a difficult enough time producing shoes and running my business. I said that it was something that I can’t control or do anything about. She then asked me again, “So what do you think about it?”
I ignored the question and said again, it doesn’t affect me… but in reality it does. ARCH Footwear is made in China. The difference between me and Nike however is that the tariffs and duties associated with importing are not the same because I am making samples. I’m not producing enough shoes and when I do produce shoes I’m not utilizing the import system of ships and containers to land the shoes. That’s giving away a bit of strategy, but it’s honest.
I do have a small say in this matter as it relates to New Balance and Nike’s “Beef”. New Balance didn’t like the idea of President Obama speaking at Nike. They thought that since they are the only shoe company manufacturing shoes in the US that the President should have chosen New Balance to present his proposal. Well, I have one word for New Balance, LASCO. Lasco is based out of Los Angeles and they also make their shoes in the US. They even went as far as buying their own factory. They did a Kickstarter for their shoes and it failed. This tells me all that I need to know about America and its big attachment to manufacturing in the US… THERE ISN’T ANY ATTACHMENT!
Americans are big on talk in regard to manufacturing, but it’s all posturing. If we really wanted to support Made in the USA Nike wouldn’t be the most powerful corporation in the US and in Footwear. New Balance would be. The narrative is clear when it comes to this TPP, lowering the duties and tariff prices will definitely allow more product to enter the US. This will lead to an increase in jobs here because the chain of command is simple, someone has to sell what comes in. What is also clear to me, more than others since ARCH is not just a brand but an online shoe source, is that these same shoes Nike imports, are purchased through Amazon.com in countries around the world. I have a stack of USPS slips to prove this.
I also have a bit of insight into New Balance and it’s Made In the USA manufacturing. I actually wrote the Saco factory for New Balance when I first began making my shoes. I wanted to design and make my footwear in the US. I knew production would be expensive, but I thought that New Balance would be interested in being a micro manufacturer which would actually strengthen their business model as I could pay New Balance for production instead of making samples overseas.
I’m sure you can guess the result of this attempt. This was further compounded this year by New Balance’s decision to remove from marketplace stores on Amazon the ability to sell New Balance shoes without an account. New Balance is complaining about Nike’s ability to get the President to speak on the TPP when they are doing their own job of limiting their own growth so the TPP is something that once again, I don’t really care about. I know I should, but right now I’m able to do something I never dreamed I’d be able to do and that’s to be entering my sixth year of existence as a footwear company. I know that’s personal and doesn’t speak to my service in the military or my hopes for building something American made, but until we begin to show the type of patience and willingness to pay for the production of goods on a consistent basis in the US, I have to work and attack the market the best way I know how.