I think this picture of Sarah Palin really captures her spirit. Sort of enthusiastic without the sufficient analysis. Say what you will about Paul Ryan and his budget plan, there is no doubt the guy is intelligent. A definite upgrade for the Republicans from last time. But I’m not here today to talk about Sarah Palin. I want to talk about a much more important Sarah that you probably have never heard of yet. Instead of blathering inane patriotic platitudes in an attempt to support America, this Sarah supports America by actually hiring Americans. To make clothing. In Philly.
I found out about Sarah Van Aken after reading a post about her written by Elizabeth Wellington of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Sarah and her fifteen workers work out of a 3,500-square-foot studio space; the workers craft wide-legged and skinny trousers, and vibrant maxi and wrap dresses on 29 industrial sewing machines. Sarah’s workers make between $10 to $20 an hour, as well as a portion of their health insurance.
Ms. Wellington’s Inquirer piece is really worth wearing because it discusses all sorts of interesting issues related to apparel manufacturing in this country: living wages for apparel workers, ecological impacts related to fabric choices, and financing a primary business by also engaging in side businesses.
Sarah sounds like a very interesting person that I would love to interview for my book. She started out making her apparel in Bangladesh, but moved production back to Philly after suffering through the headaches of running a business half way around the world. Sarah controls her costs by being entirely vertically integrated, controlling everything within her one firm. I find this somewhat ironic since the offshoring of apparel manufacturing was prompted by apparel firms ability to pick and choose what tasks (design, marketing, sales) to keep in-house and what tasks to offshore to places like Bangladesh. But even Bangladesh’s huddled masses will become too expensive some day. As a public service, I have already identified where offshoring apparel manufacturers can go next. They need merely read my post Now on deck, Bangladesh.
So I say, my hat is off to you Ms. Sarah Van Aken! Keep up the good work and I will consider buying some of your beautiful women’s clothes at Christmas time for my wife.