Why buying American (and Coloradan) can be transformative

By Jan Erickson | Nov 16, 2015

Consumers are waking up.

They're recognizing that the old adage – "you vote with your dollars" -- is actually true. They're looking at labels. They're supporting products that represent causes they believe in, be it fair trade or various retail-related charities. They're recognizing that dollars spent on American goods create bigger ripples in the national economy than dollars spent on foreign goods.

That's why the American Made Matters campaign is gaining so much traction. Nov. 19 has been declared American Made Matters Day, and my company, Janska, as a Colorado Springs women's apparel manufacturer, champions that effort.

This campaign makes sense. The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that every dollar spent on American-made goods invests an additional $1.32 in the U.S. economy.

If every American family spent just an extra $49.95 on American-made goods, they would generate 150,000 more American jobs, according to ABCNews.

Buying American Made really does matter.

But why stop there?

The same logic that encourages people to buy domestically also applies to the Buy Colorado movement. Spending money on Colorado-made goods creates more jobs here and contributes to a vibrant economy.

Gov. John Hickenlooper leaped onto the Buy Colorado bandwagon recently by proclaiming Nov. 19 (American Made Matters Day) also to be Colorado Manufacturing Day. And Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers added his voice with his own Colorado Springs American Made Matters Day proclamation.

The Janska team, along with our friends at CompanyWeek, hope to take this movement to the next level. On Nov. 19, we kick off the Colorado Made Matters Holiday Challenge. We're challenging consumers to spend at least 5 percent of their gifts for the holidays on goods made in Colorado.

We've created a new Colorado Made Matters Facebook page, and we'll use that to promote the amazing array of Colorado-manufactured products available -- from Celestial Seasonings herbal teas to Little Colorado, which makes kid-sized furniture. The page also invites consumers to share their Colorado-buying experiences.

But these efforts don't have to stay in the virtual spaces. Our business will celebrate this campaign on Nov. 19 with tours of our warehouse at 2255 Reliable Circle in Colorado Springs. This is a wonderful opportunity to educate the public about apparel manufacturing.

If you're a Colorado manufacturer, please join us and do your own manufacturing tours. We'd love for consumers to develop a deeper awareness about the amazing products made in Colorado, and the phenomenal efforts it takes to make them. Post on the Colorado Made Matters Facebook page. Ask your consumers to accept the Colorado Made Matters Holiday Challenge.

We need to work together to feed this new consumer revolution, a revolution that looks at the whole picture and goes beyond the hottest, flashiest deal.

I think about buying American Made and Colorado Made in the same way I think about buying organic and local in food. If I bought nothing but organic fruits and vegetables, my grocery budget would get out of hand. But if I purchase some of organic apples and broccoli, a few of the staples I eat a lot, then I know that my family will be a lot healthier and more domestic jobs will be sustained or created.

Small actions can create big changes.

We're challenging people to pick a few things, just a few things, as they're going about their holiday shopping, to make our country and our state healthier.

Personally, I plan to accept the challenge. I'm going to make sure that Colorado-made goods account for way more than 5 percent of my holiday presents. My family and friends are in for some great Colorado treats!

Jan Erickson, 2014 Colorado Small Business Person of the Year, is founder and president of Janska, a Colorado Springs-based manufacturer of outerwear sold in more than 750 retail stores in the United States and Canada. Contact her at jan@janska.com.