Today’s interview is with Sticky Rammel of Stephanie Dawn. Stephanie Dawn is a bag company located in Van Wert, Ohio and was created by the American manufacturer, KAM. They have over 750 independent retailers across the country currently carrying Stephanie Dawn bags.
Can you give 50 BUILT readers some background KAM manufacturing and the catalyst for creating the Stephanie Dawn bag collection?
Kam Manufacturing, Inc. is a family-owned, family-operated business located in a small town in Northwest Ohio called Van Wert. KAM manufactured highly sought-after quilted cotton handbags for another company for 24+ years until that company took most of their production overseas. When that happened in 2008, as opposed to closing, the family decided to design and manufacture their own brand of handbags and accessories in order to keep as many employees as they could manage. This new line was named Stephanie Dawn after Kim Adams’ only granddaughter at the time.
What sets a Stephanie Dawn bag made by KAM apart from other bags made overseas?
Our quality due to our roughly 28 years of experience manufacturing quilted cotton. Trademark, cutting edge color designs. Fully functional styles.
How has the reception of Stephanie Dawn been in an industry where the status quo is to send manufacturing overseas?
Our reception has really been quite amazing given that we have started a new brand from scratch in 2008. We are finding that more and more consumers and retailers are wanting to purchase Made in USA items. I believe since the economic downturn, people really want to feel good about what they are purchasing and want to feel like they are helping out locally by buying items Made in the USA and/or by buying from local, independent retailers in their own neighborhoods or places where they travel and vacation.
Are you able to source all the materials and components for the Stephanie Dawn bags domestically?
Unfortunately we are not able to source all materials and components domestically. Our fabric does come from overseas; however most of our hardware and other components are domestic. Our fabric is quilted here in the states, and we also work with design companies here in the states.
Does KAM manufacturing have special bond with other U.S. vendors/factories, like you are all taking on a challenge to fulfill a duty and you’re in it together?
There are certainly other vendors/manufacturers that we have met and bonded with at gift shows, etc that we network with and try to help each other out. Personally, I do feel a special bond with some of these other people that I have met along the way and I feel we all want each other to succeed and continually grow.
Does KAM manufacturing see this business model of ‘factory as a wholesaler and retailer’ as a viable option to make American Made goods the norm again?
Yes. Overall, I think the main factor in success is to build a strong brand, and our brand is partially (but not entirely) based on being American Style, American Made.
What are some benefits and challenges to being the factory as well as the marketers and sales people of a brand?
The benefits are that we can be much more agile than some companies. We can try, revise and change things much more easily and quickly.
How important is the Made in America message to your brand image? How important is it to your employees?
It is very important to our brand image, and I believe it is very important to our employees. The whole reason Stephanie Dawn is in existence is to keep and create American jobs. We stand on the hill of quality and being American Made.
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 Stephanie Dawn to succeed, what would it be?
I feel the biggest advantage to keeping things Made in American is the fact that it all trickles down and across to so many other businesses. For instance, in our own situation Stephanie Dawn works with designers, quilters, independent sales representatives, component vendors, independent retailers all here in America. And the money stays here in our country and these local communities.
Awesome, thank you so much , Sticky. It’s been great to get the perspective of a joint company/factory!