“Made in the U.S.A.” is an increasingly important tag for outdoor gear. Among U.S. outdoor consumers, 30 percent are willing to pay more for products made in America, according to an Outdoor Industry Association ConsumerVue study. But, arguably, the most important piece for the outdoor industry is the health and well-being of the people behind that label.
For Farm to Feet—a brand that’s grounded in manufacturing on American soil—the team’s most recent mission is to connect consumers with the pulse behind the goods.
Enter: “American Made,” a three-part film series that will debut this fall to share the real-life stories of the individuals who have their feet on the factory floor and their hands in the wool.
Meet the videographer
The project idea struck a cord for videographer Rob Holmes, owner of GLP Films, who specializes in capturing stories of sustainability around the world.
He dove into meeting professionals along the supply chain and sorting those behind-the-scenes narratives.
“I spent time in each location to get to know the staff," said Holmes. "We wanted to show the heartbeat of the people who work with each company and have a personal window into how their jobs have impacted them."
He continued, “In today’s global environment, you really appreciate that Farm to Feet products are locally made, and that there is so much manufacturing heritage and history in Carolinas.
In the 1930s, the Carolinas were the leading textile producers in the country. Now, the country’s entire textile industry accounts for less than 0.2 percent of the GDP.
A glimse into the stories
The series begins at Chargeurs Wool, where raw bundles of responsibly-nurtured wool are taken to be cleaned and turned into wool tops. “Meet the Ironman,” profiles Chargeurs Wool Plant Manager Cliff Cox—who has worked with the company for 40 years.
Next, “Meet the Poet,” spotlights Joseph Benson, a published poet and floor man at Kentwool, one of two facilities where Farm to Feet’s wool is spun into yarn.
Post spinning, the yarn arrives at Nester Hosiery and is knit into socks. “Meet the Anglers,” is the grand finale: a cameo of husband-wife duo Ken and Deloris Shumate, who both work at Nester Hosiery. Deloris is a change mechanic and joined the company three years after her husband became the product engineer, a role he’s held for 25 years.
“The films take you down the lines at each of the three facilities," Holmes said. "You see the true impact of ‘Made in America,’ the jobs, and the difference that consumers can make through what they buy. You realize how it is important to keep jobs here in America.”
Get connected at Outdoor Retailer
Meet Cliff Cox in person at the Farm to Feet 5th Anniversary Celebration from 4:30 to 6 p.m. on Monday (Day 1). Come early for the barbecue and beer; stay for the film series kickoff and debut of “Meet the Ironman.”
To commemorate Farm to Feet’s anniversary, attendees will have a chance to take home a pair of special edition socks, and a portion of the night’s proceeds support the Outdoor Foundation.