Bringing the domestic textile industry back, "one (luxury) sheet at a time."
The phone call came on Friday, July 14.
It was the White House staff calling to see if Jimmy and Stephanie MacDonald were willing to come to Washington, D.C. the following week to showcase Authenticity 50, their 100 percent Made in America luxury bedding company, at President Trump’s Made in America Week event.
“Somehow, they found out about our product, about a good call for American-made business, and they put us forward,” said Jimmy. “The White House liked what we were doing and they chose to bring us in. It was an honor.
“We were actually the smallest of the companies there and the youngest, but clearly our message and our value was resonating so it was really exciting.”
The MacDonald’s message is make it in America. Make it 100 percent in America.
Stephanie and Jimmy were searching for all-American bedding sets when furnishing their home in San Francisco after returning from living in Southeast Asia. They could purchase top-quality American-made furniture, utensils, kitchen ware and houseware.
They also wanted to purchase American-made luxe bedding – a fitted sheet, a flat sheet and two pillow cases – but after a relentless search they came up empty.
“We just couldn’t find it,” said Stephanie. “It was really mind-boggling that we couldn’t source American made. It wasn’t out there.”
Approximately three years later, the MacDonalds relocated to Redondo Beach in Southern California and decided to tackle the lack of Made in America bedding. After about a year of research, they were able to find suppliers in America that manufactured with strictly American materials.
Today they produce a top-quality product without having had to open a manufacturing plant, a testament to the American supply chain dwindling in other industries.
From California, to Georgia, to the Carolinas, to Virginia, to you.
The year 2015 was the birth of Authenticity 50, the name of their company that refers to all materials being sourced from our nation’s 50 states.
The secret to the comfortable bedsheets is the use of Supima cotton which is grown in the San Joaquin Valley of California. It’s about three times as expensive as traditional American cotton grown in the Mississippi Delta region.
Supima cotton is extra-long staple cotton. The additional length allows the cotton to be spun into a durable single-ply thread that can be woven into a softer fabric.
The cotton is then sent to a textile mill in Georgia where it is spun into long, fine threads. From Georgia, the cotton is shipped by truck to a textile mill in the Carolinas where it is woven into fabric. It is colored, pre-shrunk and finished at another textile plant in the Carolinas and then sent to yet another Carolina facility to be cut, sewn and packaged. The finished bedding is then sent to a warehouse in Virginia where online orders are filled.
"Basically, we cut out everything that didn’t add to a higher quality product and passed those savings along to the consumer." Jimmy MacDonald
A good way to check if you are getting quality sheets is to inspect the stitching of the elastic all around the sheets and pillow cases. Authenticity 50 uses 10 or more stitches per inch. Cheaper brands are made with five to seven stitches per inch, which can cause them to fall apart after several washings.
“It’s expensive to make. It is not a cheap product,” said Jimmy. “Using Supima cotton, a completely U.S. supply chain, American techs and sewers, our products cost us five or six times more to make. But the value is there because of the quality. It lasts a long time.
“It gets softer as you wash it and use it. The wrinkles decrease over time because we don’t use all the heavy chemical wrinkle treatments. So, the product is like a nice old pair of jeans. The broken in pair feels much better than when you first get them and it’s the same thing with our sheets. Whereas other companies’ sheets start to fall apart after six months, out sheets are just starting to get nicer and more comfortable.”
Authenticity 50 luxe bedwear can keep its product prices competitive because of its online sales business model. There are no middlemen, big-box stores, department stores or wholesalers to siphon off profits. The MacDonalds spend next to nothing on marketing.
“It was partly from seeing companies like American Giant being really successful with a direct to consumer model,” said Jimmy. “Basically, we cut out everything that didn’t add to a higher quality product and passed those savings along to the consumer. We then let the customer do the marketing for the brand.
“If a customer has a problem then they can come to us and we solve it. When they love our products, they tell us. And they can tell their friends they are supporting this business and these owners directly who are trying to do the right thing. So, it’s a very powerful connection you can build with the customers by selling direct.”
"We're just riding a wave."
There is a bit of irony in the fact that the MacDonalds lived in Asia and decided to commit to Made in America when returning home. Stephanie MacDonald’s father, a military veteran based in Asia, had always instilled a buy Made in America motto since she was a young girl.
“In growing up, you always know when you buy an American-made product it will last you for years and years,” said Stephanie. “It is made so well; the craftsmanship is immaculate. But buy something overseas it will last you about a year or two and then break down and then you have to reinvest.
“Our sheets start at $139 for a twin set. If you bought our products in a department store or big-box retail, they would be like $300 or $400 dollars. But since we sell online, we can cut out all the middlemen fees, vending fees and markups. We can easily bring it from the factory floor into your bedroom.”
One of the major problems Authenticity 50 faces is false advertising by the competition. These competitors advertise Egyptian cotton when nearly 90 percent is fake. They also advertise super high thread counts, which consumers often mistake for higher quality.
“How can you get an 800 thread count of Egyptian cotton at Target for $45? “said Jimmy. “It just doesn’t happen that way. It’s just a marketing thing, companies lying about what their numbers are. A higher thread count doesn’t matter. It’s about the quality of the cotton and Supima is the best.”
Stephanie concurs that education is the most important element in getting the consumers to change their bedding habits.
“We feel it is part of our responsibility to educate consumers so we have loads of information on our website trying to debunk quite a bit of information compared to any other websites. People don’t understand that marketing gimmicks have become mainstream and are repeated over and over. It seems like the truth doesn’t matter.”
Authenticity 50 is the highest-rated bedding you can find online. It has 600 five-star reviews and a 4.9 out of a 5-star rating.
“Our production process supplies over 500-plus American skilled jobs from coast to coast.” Stephanie MacDonald
At the White House event, the MacDonalds sat two seats away from President Trump. They told him they would like to get their sheets in the White House someday. They also considered the thousands of hotel rooms Trump owns and thought of selling him their sheets for every bed.
“We’re just riding a wave,” said Jimmy.
It’s an All-American wave according to Stephanie.
“Our production process supplies over 500-plus American skilled jobs from coast to coast,” she said. “Growing the cotton, spinning the yarn, making the fabric and then the sewing. All parts are seed to stitch right here in the United States. Every single little product, when it comes to your door, is made here in the U.S. Our packaging is made here.
“Made in America means pride. Our goal in starting this company was to do something positive and give back and try to bring the domestic textiles industry back to life. It left our shores in the 1980s never to come back. Our goal is to bring it back, one sheet set at a time.”