Jennifer Bryant is an all-American entrepreneur. A work-at-home mom from Huntersville, North Carolina, she runs an online retail store called All-American Baby, which sells a wide range of items for babies and young children, and all of the products she sells are made in the U.S.A. She runs her business while she is not chasing after her two beautiful children, ages 4-years and 18-months.
Jennifer and her All-American Baby business are being featured because it is precisely the kind of business that we need to see thrive in order for a buy American revival to take place in this country.
Jennifer competes in an industry that is dominated by imported products. While other retailers have passed on American-made blankets, bibs, and strollers for less expensive (and frankly, cheaper) imported products, Jennifer has built her business around offering only the highest quality and safest products on the market – products made in the U.S.A. – which she sells for a reasonable price.
Jennifer’s business is critical to the buy American movement for a few reasons. First, by demonstrating a genuine loyalty to American-manufacturing, she has helped maintain domestic production of the products she carries. If those plants close, we simply might not be able to find American-made versions of the baby items we need anymore.
Second, she has assembled a wide variety of American-made goods for a specific market all in one place. It won’t take a lot of searching; if you want high quality American-made goods for your baby or small child, go to All-American Baby and you are probably going to find what you are looking for. I wish more businesses would adopt this approach.
Third, she offers her products online and not mixed in with lots of items not made in the U.S.A. Let’s face it, American-made goods are sometimes hard to find. Having one website with lots of American-made selection to go to for all your baby needs makes it incredibly easy to buy American.
If you are shopping for a baby or small child, please check out All-American Baby. They have really great stuff. Also, please consider passing along this website (www.All-AmericanBaby.com), or this story, to anyone you know that has, or will soon have, a baby. It may be just the kind of baby store they have been looking for.
When I contacted Jennifer about doing a story on her business, I asked her a few questions, and I was hoping to get a quote or two from her responses. However, I enjoyed her story so much that I decided to include the full transcript. Here it is:
Randy: When did you start you All-American Baby business?
Jennifer: All-American Baby was started in 2007, about a year after my first child was born. When I took time off from teaching elementary school to raise my daughter, I found that being a mother is the most fulfilling job I could have ever imagined. But in the process of searching for the highest quality, safest products for her, an idea was beginning to grow in my mind.
Randy: Why did you choose to sell only items made in the U.S.A.?
Jennifer: I personally wanted only the highest quality, safest products for my children, whether they were toys, blankets or clothing. It seemed especially important to be able to rely on the quality and safety of a product when considering a brand new baby. In 2006 and 2007, right after my first child was born there was a rash of recalls for lead-tainted children’s products that were made overseas. With those recent safety concerns and recalls of toys, blankets and other children’s products, I found myself wanting to get “Back to Basics” for my children’s sake. I wanted to have toys that would challenge their minds and encourage developmental growth (that’s my 15 years as a teacher coming out!). I’m sure you remember from your childhood, the toys that don’t require batteries, but instead use imagination, creative thinking, and problem solving. I also wanted the quality and safety of these products to be unquestionable (that is definitely the mother in me!). These ideals became my beacon, and American-made toys and products fit perfectly with this ideal. At the same time, especially since I’d had children, I‘d become even more aware of the importance of social responsibility, and the need to support our own nation, the workers, and the economy. I think for me having children was an epiphany that made me so much more concerned with the world around me instead of my own immediate, convenient needs. My search for the perfect products was long, but the products were out there. I wished for one place where I could find this variety of safe, American-made toys, and quality American-made baby products. I knew there were other parents like me who would prefer to buy American-made products if they could find them. So the idea for All-American Baby was born.
Randy: Do you think a business needs to sell imported goods to make a profit, or can it be done selling goods made in the USA?
Jennifer: I think a business can be profitable selling American-made goods! That is certainly our business plan! Speaking specifically to our industry, there are definitely enough American-made baby and children’s products out there to keep us well stocked. But there are certainly some additional challenges that have to be considered. One thing that we have realized is that since the US-made products that we offer are of much higher quality and come from much smaller manufacturing companies than their foreign-made counterparts, this sometimes translates into a higher initial cost. When consumers are comparing two products, if they consider price alone then they may not be buying from us. But the right consumer will consider not only price, but quality, safety, and durability, and the American-made products will make the most sense. How many times will you buy and replace that cheaply-made imported toy, when you can pay slightly more up-front and have a toy for your child that is not only safe and fun, but could be an heirloom because of its quality and durability? There are also some limitations on certain types of products that we offer because it is hard to find US-made versions. A lot of baby “gear”, such as strollers, playpens, stationary play centers, etc., is not made in the USA. There are alternative ideas (such as playmats, baby carriers, baby rocking seats, etc.), but parents have to be flexible. Another thing we have learned is when working with American-manufacturers, often products have a longer lead time than if we were purchasing from large importers. We have to plan ahead! But we have enjoyed the personal relationship we have developed with our American manufacturers over the years. I think the key to success in a business that is focused specifically on US-made products is finding the right customer traffic; consumers who care where the product is made.
Randy: What would happen to your business if we had a list 10 million Americans who want to buy American that we could send information to about your business? i.e. if 10 million people were coming to your site with their buy American baby needs, what would be the impact in terms of profitability and job creation for your business? Would you add employees? Would your suppliers have to increase production?
Jennifer: What an amazing sight that would be! I’d be happy with just a fraction of that! We would definitely be adding A LOT of employees, renting more space, expanding our warehousing and distribution channels. Not only would our current suppliers have to increase production (and thus hire additionally themselves), but there are many additional manufacturers that we would be able to add to our vendor list…and yes, they are out there! In addition, with that kind of attention and purchasing power, there would be a lot of new manufacturers ready and willing to produce more baby and children’s goods here in the USA. If every family with young children in the US just agreed to purchase one US-made toy or children’s product a month instead of the imported version, just imagine the difference that alone would make! The key is getting the information out there to the consumers that yes, these US-made products ARE available!
Thank you, Jennifer, for your help with this story and for running a business with a truly inspiring set of values. You are truly an all-American entrepreneur!
Until next time, here’s to doing what we can to support our country by buying American.