MADE IN USA CERTIFIED® co-founder/president Julie Reiser ’92 encourages consumers to buy America
Before she graduated from Stephens College with a B.A. in Business Administration, Julie Reiser ’92 dreamed of working in New York. She had already interned with Carol Everitt Charny ‘67, then president of the sports division at Calvin Klein in New York.
However, Reiser, a St. Louis native, took a brief detour after graduation and pursued a master’s degree in education at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale.
“I quickly realized after one year that teaching was not for me,” she says. “I was lucky to be able to connect with a great network of Stephens alumnae in New York, including Joyce Perkins Johnson ’91 and Rachel and Laura Gross (’93 and ’91, respectively) who were a tremendous support system to me at the time.”
After working for several years with various well-known designers in showroom sales and merchandising, the call of south Florida proved strong and Reiser returned to marry her second husband, Adam, in 2004. Their combined family includes her son from her first marriage, his four boys and eventually a son they had together. The couple also started a magazine called Made in USA.
“I wanted to tell the stories of American manufacturers—their struggles, their triumphs and their steely determination. I wanted to inspire and remind the reader of how our nation was built on the backs and dreams of so many entrepreneurs and innovators. I wanted to reignite the American spirit in our readers.”
While the magazine was short-lived, Reiser had found her calling.
“Through the magazine, we discovered that there was a real need for a third-party verification system to investigate the claim Made in the USA,” she says. “We saw a real disconnect between the marketing and claims of many companies and the reality of where and how these things were made. U.S. flags along with other images of America are used all the time in marketing from food to clothes to tractors and then the tiny, fine print on the back says it’s made in China. It is very deceptive and misleading to the consumer. Our certification cuts through the confusion.”
In 2009, Reiser co-founded MADE IN USA CERTIFIED®, headquartered in Boca Raton, Fla. The independent, non-partisan, third-party certification company modeled its Made in USA, Product of USA and Service in USA claims after Certified Organic, Underwriters Laboratory, UL, and theGood Housekeeping Seal of Approval.
“We trace the origin of every component that goes into a product or food,” Reiser says. “In order to receive certification, all or virtually all of the components needs to be of U.S. origin and the product needs to be manufactured or substantially transformed in the U.S. Those companies who pass the full supply chain audit receive certification and can leverage it as a powerful marketing and branding tool.”
MADE IN USA CERTIFIED® is the only watchdog organization to receive a registered word mark from the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Its mission comes at a time in our country when the economy is feeling the major pinch from a lack of new job creation and the ongoing loss of U.S. manufacturing.
She points to a “Made in America Challenge” this year from ABC’s World News Tonight anchor Diane Sawyer.
“She stated that if every American spent an extra $3.33 per month on U.S.-made goods, that it would create almost 10,000 new jobs in the U.S. Think about that,” Reiser says. “If every American just put a little more effort into being consciously aware of purchases and to buy American we (the consumers) could collectively create millions of new jobs in the next year alone.”
While she acknowledges that the United States is part of a global infrastructure, “making more conscious, thoughtful purchases of Made in U.S.A. products is the right thing to do for ourselves, our country and for future generations.”
Take the MADE IN USA CERTIFIED® Challenge
With the busy holiday season just around the corner, MADE IN USA CERTIFIED® president/co-founder Julie Reiser ’92 urges people to purchase at least three gifts from her company’s certified list of companies.
“With each purchase, you can feel good that your dollars are being kept here in the United States, helping to build American companies and pay Americans’ salaries,” Reiser says. “This truly is the gift that keeps on giving.”
Holiday Shopping Guide
All American Clothing (www.allamericanclothing.com): Jeans, T-shirts and other products that allow the customer to see where the cotton came from and where it was processed and then milled and sewn together.
Black Halo (www.blackhalo.com): Clothing apparel manufacturer that’s famous for its Jackie O dress.
Brand of the Free (www.brandofthefree.com): Organic graphic tees and totes
Bring It Up (www.bringitup.com): Products for instant face, brow, neck and breast lifts
Carved Solutions (www.carvedsolutions.com): Custom-designed, personalized and monogrammed soaps and candles made in Vermont. Included in Oprah’s list of favorite things in O Magazine.
Hanky Panky (www.hankypanky.com): Line of lingerie available online and in various retail stores.
MAK Grills (www.makgrills.com): Remote-controlled top of the line grills and smokers in one
Malpaca (www.malpaca.com): 100% natural, handcrafted pillows filled with Alpaca fiber and covered in Rayon Bamboo, which is anti-bacterial, fire resistant, pesticide and toxin free and softer than cotton.
Original Hawaiian Chocolate (www.ohcf.us): Variety of milk and dark chocolate, including their popular plumeria shaped chocolates. Notably one of the few companies in the U.S. to produce chocolate from cocoa bean to bar.
Thought Out (www.thoughtout.biz.com): Gadgets, stands, accessories for iPad, iPhone, iPod and Mac.
Tito’s Handmade Vodka (www.titosvodka.com): Award-winning vodka brewed in Austin, Texas, the first legal distillery in the state. Made with corn versus the norm of wheat or potatoes it has a sweeter taste than most vodkas.
Tough Traveler (www.toughtraveler.com): Variety of luggage, backpacks, baby carriers and music bags.
USA Coffee Company (www.USACoffeeCompany.com)
World’s Best Carrot Cake (www.worldsbestcarrotcake.com): Five varieties of carrot cake (all-natural, organic, gluten-free, chocolate gluten-free and vegan)
Zkano (www.zkano.com): Socks made with organic cotton in a variety of lengths, colors and sizes
For the Kids:
Big Sunday Football (www.bigsunday.com): A football board game perfect for the entire family.
Marble King (www.marbleking.com): Marbles produced by a West Virginia company
For the Dogs:
Kona’s Chips (www.konaschips.com): Natural dog treats
Wholesome Hide (www.wholesomehide.com): Rawhide dog chews
For the Birds:
Greenfeather Bird Toys (www.greenfeatherbirdsupply.com): Wholesale bird toys