This is the 2nd part of a multi-post “story” documenting You and Who‘s journey to make our own t-shirts; a journey that is now in its eleventh month. This post is about how it got started. Or, as the title implies, why it got started.At the end of April of last year, we decided to launch a special shirt for Mother’s Day where we donated the matching shirts to mothers in need in our shelters across the U.S. My good friend Seamus Gallivan, who runs The Good Neighborhood, asked about the shirts we use. Before he bought a shirt for his Mom, he wanted to learn more about the production of our shirts. He was asking because on April 24, 2013, Rana Plaza collapsed in Bangladesh – it was the deadliest garment-factory accident in history, as well as the deadliest accidental structural failure in modern human history. 1,129 people died that certainly didn’t have to. In fact, warnings about the structure of the building were issued the day before the accident, but garment workers were still ordered back to work.
I’m glad Seamus asked me because it made me really think about things. Back when we launched You and Who in 2010, I had wanted to use shirts that were made in the America. However, I was steered in the direction of not doing so because the costs would be just too high. But these cheaply made goods that we’re all accustomed to buying have had a double negative effect – we’ve not lost only American manufacturing jobs overseas, but the’ve been replaced by jobs with deplorable working conditions. In the 1960s roughly 95% of apparel worn in the U.S. was made domestically. Currently, over 97% of apparel sold in the U.S. is made overseas. We wanted to do our part to change this.
Because we focus on helping people in need in the U.S. only, in 40 U.S. cities, it just made sense that our shirts should be made here. We thought we could help even more people in the U.S. by creating jobs here instead of overseas. We had faith that people would want a higher quality shirt that was made in America and support American jobs in the process. So, we decided we needed to switch to new shirts made in the U.S.A. and we set out to do just that.