When we first met Alison Daniel of Southern Ticking Co. (Simply Great Bedding), we knew we had a kindred spirit. She immediately offered fantastic advice on our products, business ideas, and website, and was incredibly generous with her time and energy. Every time we see her post about us on social media, we smile because we know it comes from the heart. You see, Alison’s journey to become a maker taught her that it’s the human relationship- the communities- that bring real value to the products of small American manufacturers. And she is passionate about it.
“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”
It’s an overused saying, but when it comes to Alison there’s no better way to describe her start. The phone call came in on New Year’s Ever, 2007: her husband was fired from his manufacturing job over the phone. Right on the edge of the recession, and need to find work to support the family, Alison had hoped to return to her job as a buyer for a large home decor company, but it was no longer available. Now, with a child and a bad economy, she decided to search for another opportunity.
It was when she found work prepping for a high-end New York bedding company that she had her epiphany- if she couldn’t afford the $1200 bed sets she was selling, most people couldn’t either. But doesn’t everyone deserve a good night’s sleep on a nice set of linens?
She reasoned that there had to be a way to make it here, in the US, and decided to try. With that decision, she put herself on the bleeding edge of a renaissance in American manufacturing and started out on her own.
“12 yards of fabric and 1 person sewing”
Anyone who’s ever started a business knows how hard it is to get things rolling, and in a country where manufacturing is on the decline, becoming a maker is even harder.
Alison’s bedding and shower curtain line wasn’t getting any traction- retailers didn’t want to take a risk on a new brand in the recession economy. So she decided to go directly to consumers and compete with the likes of Pottery Barn head-on using social media.
Social media allowed her to bypass the traditional economic pathways and find people who wanted what she offered, as well as the retailers who they supported.
Alison made the point that she’s not only supporting her own household- no small feat if you consider the kids, horses, cats, and dogs- but her community as well. “Trickle Down” has the connotation of applying to the wealthiest, but in this case, she says her profits trickle down to local stores, theaters, and other businesses.
The value of her products and that of other makers like herself, Alison asserts, is in the support you offer these communities. To her, this is democratizing decorating- when her customers spend their dollars supporting makers like her, it’s Americans voting with their hard earned cash to support other Americans, who in turn support even more.
It’s an idea we’re behind 100%.