I Love My USA began during a pandemic.
Hi. My name is Jaden. In early January, the world experienced an unprecedented shutdown due to a highly contagious virus.
Stores, factories, restaurants, supply chains, distribution warehouses were shut down. Countries shut their borders and essential life-saving supplies were in short supply.
Here, in the United States, we experienced a shortage of nearly everything. In the early stages, we could barely protect our front line medical workers with enough personal protective equipment, like face masks.
Citizens who owned sewing machines went to work, making face masks for our doctors, nurses, grocery store workers, and anyone who was deemed, “essential” to life.
But there was a problem.
There was no fabric.
People resorted cutting up old t-shirts. The Surgeon General went on national television to teach American citizens how to fashion a mask out of a bandana and rubber bands.
My dining room turned into a sewing factory, where I would spend hours washing, ironing, cutting, sewing and assembling face masks for medical workers.
I experimented with different patterns and sewing methods. Fabric was sourced from the closets of my friends and family.
My friend’s cotton t-shirts were cut into thin strips for ties.
Thick pantyhose were cut into 1-inch strips for ear elastics – since elastic was all sold out.
My Dad’s cotton button-down shirts were used as outer mask fabric.
My brother’s old scrubs were used as the liner.
Blue shop towels were cut and sewn together as filters.
Garden wire was shaped into nose wires.
I made over 250 masks for donation for the medical community, nursing homes, friends and family.
How could the richest nation in the world be held hostage by a shortage of medical face masks….let alone simple things such fabric and elastic?
Mass unemployment in America
During this time, unemployment went from 3.5% in February to 14.7% in a span of just weeks. As of mid-May, over 36 million Americans filed for unemployment claims (NY Times) and this number is rising every week.
Nevada is one of 6 states that just started accepting applications for unemployment for gig workers, freelancers and independent contractors. Another 20 states have not even implemented their program yet (Las Vegas Review Journal)
This is over 2 months of zero income for many.
One day, I was driving home from the grocery store. Up ahead, I saw a crazy long line of cars, stretching 3 blocks. Police cars with lights on dotted the path.
I cautiously inched forward, not knowing what to expect, too scared to stop, but too curious to turn around.
I thought the line ended at my son’s high school up ahead. But it continued into the entrance, snaking back and forth and back and forth, in an orderly manner. I craned my neck to peer over the lanes of cars.
My heart broke.
They were handing out bags of food.
People could not afford to buy groceries to feed themselves and their children.
How is this happening in America? We need to take care of our own citizens. We need more jobs. We need to keep American dollars circulating, despite whatever pandemic we are going through.
Face masks finally trickling in….but still made in China
After a few weeks, shipments of face masks were beginning to trickle in. You couldn’t scroll on Facebook without seeing an advertisement for face masks.
But they were still made in a Chinese factory, imported.
I wanted to find face masks made here, in the United States. My options were so limited. There were handmade masks on Etsy, and there were a handful of US textile companies who converted their small manufacturing shop from making towels, socks, shirts, into making face masks.
I also wanted to be part of a solution.
I found a professional tailer here in Las Vegas, Nevada, and an amazing single mom with a side hustle business of customizing shirts, hats and hoodies.
Let’s make some masks.
Starting I Love My USA
I started I Love My USA website to highlight American makers, artists, and workers.
Our first product is face masks, not because we are passionate about face masks, but I feel it is our duty to do so, because we have the resources to make them.
Our goal is continue to find more makers. In the coming weeks, we will be launching more product: hot sauce from California, handmade plates from Utah, and jewelry from Florida. If you’d like us to sell your product, please reach out!
Let’s buy American, because it matters.