Today’s interview is with Dave Schiff, partner & chief creative officer of Made Movement, a two part initiative for promoting American-made.
Can you give 50 built readers some background on yourselves and the events that lead up to starting made?
Scott, john and i were all running large departments at crispin porter and bogusky. Scott was director of digital, john was director of design, and i was executive creative director. Scott was one of the guys who invented nike plus. John helped turn around dominos. I launched coke zero. We loved our jobs and we were generously compensated, but something was missing. We needed a mission.
What was the catalyst for starting made?
The catalyst was actually a single statistic: if americans buy just 1 percent more stuff made in america, it will create 200,000 jobs. For three guys who’ve spent their entire careers convincing people to buy things, this was irresistible.
What’s an overview of Made as a company, employees, facilities etc?
We are two companies in one. The first ever advertising agency that only works on brands making products in the usa, and the first ever flash sale site that only sells us-made goods. 6 months ago we were 3 people in a coffee shop with a power strip so we could all sit at the same table with our computers. Today we are 26 people in a small office on pearl street. We’ve almost outgrown our first official headquarters, but we’re moving into a bigger space this spring.
What kind of impact are you hoping to make with made?
We know we aren’t going to save america. But if we could contribute somehow, and create even a few american jobs along the way, we’d be extremely happy with that. We’ve even had conversations with clients about performance bonuses based on new hires. It’s what means the most to us, and the most unequivocal sign that we’ve actually helped a brand.
What has the reception been thus far to your agency and the collection?
The reception has been amazing, and we are truly humbled. Clients want us to work on their business, brands want us to stock their products, and maybe the best sign that we’re doing something right is that people want to work here, badly. We have people who left higher paying jobs and offers, and now they’re sharing cars and sleeping on each other’s couches, just because they wanted to work here. They held hands, just as john scott and i did, and jumped off a financial cliff. We don’t take that lightly, and as we succeed, we want them all to share in that success.
What kind of relationships have you formed with the american made companies you feature and represent?
The relationship between ourselves and our clients and vendors is less business to business, and more like a bunch of co-conspirators. There is shared philosophical dna, shared passion, and shared urgency. That stuff knocks down the usual walls or layers or filters, and you end up getting stuff done. None of us are in this for a hobby. We all have something riding on it, and if you live in america, you’ve got something riding on it, too.
How does a company go about working with made? What is your criteria for choosing companies you feature in the made collection?
They can contact us through our site and we always respond. Our criteria is, is america better off for the fact that the product or brand exists? Does it create jobs? Does it represent the highest quality? Would we ourselves want to own it?
Do they have to be 100% made in usa?
At the very least, it has to be assembled here. Of course it’s better when all the source material is made in the usa, too, but the point is not to exclude as many brands as possible, it’s to include as many as possible. If you’re doing anything in america, we’re interested. Because maybe one day, you’ll do even more.
One questions 50 built asks all of its interviewees, is whether or not they market themselves as being american made. Being in the marketing business, and starting an american made focused agency, it’s obvious you hold that message to be valuable. Why at this point in our culture does made find it so beneficial to be loud about the fact that one’s goods are made in the usa?
Because made in america means way more than it used to. It used to mean, pay more for something that sucks because it’s the right thing to do. That’s a pretty horrible proposition. Today, it’s something entirely different: get the best product in the world, and in doing so, generate jobs, support fair labor practices, ensure epa regulations are followed, and minimize carbon footprint.
What does that message send to the consumer and does it influence their decision when making a purchase?
It is beginning to influence their decision more and more, because it’s personal for most of them now. Organic succeeded because it’s personal. No one wants to poison themselves, so people from all walks of life began paying more attention to what they eat. The economy is the same way. Everyone’s house is worth less. Everyone knows someone out of work. So when they have a choice between a us-made product and one from overseas, they’re starting to buy the domestic one. Because they realize it can start to make a difference in their own quaity of life.
If you could tell our readers one factor that is the greatest threat or advantage to keeping things made in america, and allowing companies like the ones made represents to succeed, what would it be?
Consumers have mind-boggling power. They create change at speeds that government and more traditional types of reform can’t touch. So the biggest single factor in the success or failure of the movement will be consumers out there, asking for us-made products. Checking out labels, asking retailers what’s made here, and demanding things like a us-made smartphone, or tv. If enough people do this, things will change very, very fast. In fact they already are.
Perfect, thank you so much Dave and the rest of the Made crew, it’s great to have your perspective and experiences on 50 BUILT!
Here’s a video that gives the rundown on the Made Collection.