Entrepreneur and former Road Rules contestant Jake Bronstein is no joke when it comes to smashing crowd-funding campaigns for U.S.-made basic clothing; two of his past projects, underwear and a hoodie with a decade-long lifetime guarantee, killed their respective campaigns, the former culling nearly $300K, and the latter closing at over $1 million. Most recently, Bronstein helped jumpstart a pair of super-durable blue shoelaces (yes, shoelaces) via Kickstarter, and the fund, which closes tomorrow, has drummed up nearly $150,000 as of this evening. Eat your heart out, Zosia Mamet.
Bronstein's company, Flint and Tinder, prides itself on its all-American-made product, and with basics like underwear, flannel and sweatshirts under its belt, Bronstein and co. reached out to an American shoelace manufacturers to see if they could top all their other shoelace creations. Apparently they did, busting out "A triple-dense, double-waxed canvas lace, tipped in Aluminum," according to the Kickstarter page. "They're certainly light-years ahead of whatever cheap lace came pre-loaded in your imported sneakers."
A breaking shoelace is a sad, sad thing, but in order to manufacture these bad boys, Bronstein set the crowdfund goal at $25K, a hefty sum for what is ostensibly just a piece of waxy string. But Bronstein says Americans are finally started to get excited about U.S.-made products again, and the blue laces serve as more than just a way to keep your sneaker flaps together: they're a symbol for a dedication to domestic manufacturing. According to Bronstein, retailers believe their customers don't care about American-made products, but he's calling their bluff. "The truth is, I think people do care, because they understand that we need to start making things again," he told us.
The issue, according to Bronstein, is in convincing retailers to carry U.S.-made brands. "If they think it won't work in their store, they'll never stock it in their store and they won't know if it's going to work," he said. Enter, the Blue Lace Project: "There's a yellow ribbon on a tree for soldiers. There's a pink ribbon for breast cancer. There's a yellow bracelet for Livestrong. Why isn't there any way that we can show retailers that we care [about U.S.-made products]?"
Apparently people care plenty: the fund is currently at nearly $147,000. It's set to close tomorrow, giving manufacturers in Ohio, Texas and Nevada the go-ahead to bust out thousands of laces. And Flint and Tinder isn't even behind this product. "We really won't make anything off it," Bronstein said. "We're marketing for a shoelace company that doesn't have the same tools we have."
Bronstein says Flint and Tinder's next move is to build their own factory, and he hopes that in the near future American manufacturing will be able to compete on a global scale. "We can't compete on price," he said, noting that his U.S. factories pay employees $15 an hour, while overseas factories can pay as little as $38 a week. But it's not all about buying cheap clothes, he says. "I think people should buy less and get more and expect more from it. Fast fashion, it might not cost you a lot, but it does cost somebody, somewhere. We're starting to see that."