OF COURSE! ABSOLUTELY! WHEN & WHERE?
Honored, excited, overwhelmed and stressed would be exactly how we felt after getting a call from THE White House. They casually gave us a call on our phone at the office... and wanna know what our first thought was when the man said he was with The White House? — "Oh, that sounds like a nice boutique! ... maybe they are interested in selling our sheets?"
Regardless of how you feel about the current state of politics or the man that currently resides in The White House, there is no denying how awesome the opportunity is to be in the people's house, represent your state and promote American manufacturing. We were more than happy to do it! We are so thankful this president and his administration are bringing awareness to the challenges of American manufacturing and working to try and help the industries that have been decimated by deals that were anything but fair.
But back to the good stuff...
We were asked to participate about 10 days before the event. After talking to several other companies there... this was par for the course. So we immediately got to work getting signs made, working on our display and booking flights. It was a flurry of activity trying to get everything ready... Oh! And did I mention I needed to figure out the logistics of taking my 9-week old daughter with me too? We've got her first plane ticket saved for the baby book. ;)
We arrived in Washington DC late Saturday evening and woke up early Sunday morning to begin setting up.
The logistics of getting a large number of sheets, towels, duvets, and quilts into The White House was pretty funny. Using our Southern charm, we coaxed the bellhop in our hotel to help us wheel our boxes down to the gate of The White House. Once at the gate the boxes had to be opened up and inspected. We had packed those boxes like a game of Tetris and there was no way we had the time or the ability to repack them once we were given the go-ahead to proceed inside the gates. So just picture pillows and fabric busting out of boxes as we lugged them all the way through yet another security check and then finally into The White House.
We set up in the state dining room where The President had recently hosted Emmanuel Macron of France, where Reagan and Gorbachev had famously met, and where the painting of Lincoln hangs prominently over the fireplace. What a room to be in!
I probably fussed over the display for over an hour moving things an inch in one direction and then stepping back and looking and then repeating the process over and over. Finally, there was nothing left to do but get some sightseeing in and relax before the showcase on Monday.
Our newest addition to the Red Land Cotton team, Katharine Nadine, was a champ! She dined at Old Ebbitt Grill and then strolled the national mall without one complaint.
On Monday morning we went through (I kid you not) 7+ levels of security checks beginning at 8 am. There was a light breakfast and coffee served on The White House china. My mother and her friends have taught me to admire and respect a good china pattern, so I made certain to get a picture of the cup and saucer. ;)
We got to tour the showcase before it began and meet some of the other companies who had been invited to showcase their goods. There was Moon Pie from Tennesee, Wintergreen Northern Wear from Maine, Round House blue jeans from Oklahoma, Never Summer skis and snowboards from Colorado, and Mountain Meadow wool from Wyoming just to name a few. All of these people were so easy to talk to. We all had a connection regardless of our industry backgrounds. Every company had a story about the hardships of producing their products here in the states. We met the guys from Liberty Tabletop who formed their flatware company after the company they worked for closed its doors. They decided to create their own flatware company and market direct to consumer online and it's beautiful. They are the only ones left making flatware in the USA. It shouldn't be this way. The US CAN'T wake up one day and not be able to manufacture its own goods.
The showcase was about displaying our hard work but it was also about telling our industry stories. I mentioned several times in different interviews about another textile mill recently closing. It's important that we realize that while there is a refocused energy around being "Made In The USA" that there are still major plants that employee hundreds of people closing their doors.
The event began and members of the press (not the fake news), members of Congress and The President's cabinet came to tour the showcase. I hope we left a good impression on them. As I said before, we really appreciate the focus this administration is putting on American manufacturing and being self-sustaining. It's important and we're thankful they want to hear and celebrate the stories of those working hard to create goods and subsequent jobs in the USA.
The event lasted until around 4 pm and we packed up our Alabama cotton linens and prepared to leave the swamp. There was a similar awkward dance of getting our goods OUT of The White House and to the street where we met yet another bellhop who wheeled our sheets and towels down the streets of DC to our hotel.
We hope we left at least some small impression on our nation's capital. The importance of an event like this can't be underestimated and I only wish we had more of an opportunity to tell our stories to those who influence policy both on the left and right side of the aisle. But honestly, we as a nation can do much more than any single politician can. We can choose to listen to each other's stories and support each other. We can bring back industries by supporting the pieces that are left and by taking leaps of faith and going out and participating in the American dream by creating something new.
We thank every single one of you who support our American dream with your likes, shares, purchases, and prayers. We appreciate it more than you know!
Until next time!