I’m getting ready for our annual Labor Day camping trip. Within the happy buzz of packing, I have to remind myself and my daughter why we have this long Labor Day weekend. Most history books will say that Labor Day was established to celebrate the achievements of the American worker on one day. I read a bumpersticker many years ago that said, “Thank labor unions for your weekends.” I think about that fact often.
During the industrial age in the United States, most laborers worked seven days a week, 12 hours a day, but those hours could have been even more. I learned very little in school about the fight to end labor exploitation of adults and children. I learned more about the “death trap” working conditions of the factories and origins of the labor movement in New York City at the Tenement House last year.
I am often asked why I am making Kámen Road bags in the United States. Originally, I wanted to create employment for individuals and small businesses that were located near me. This year, I’ve had to redefine “near me” to include many regions of the United States, from the East Coast to the Pacific Northwest to parts of Texas and both Northern and Southern California.
The United States has a very limited artisan and small scale manufacturing infrastructure, but that is changing through organizations like Recast City. Besides a lack of production capacity, the next greatest issue is cost. Despite the challenges and the flat out road blocks, I am committed to making it work.
This Labor Day weekend, I want to thank and celebrate the artisans and businesses who support our graphic design, screen printing, prototyping, sampling, full cut and sew production, material development, product photography, and just recently, walnut hardware for our new field bag with Obi Kaufmann.
As Kámen Road grows, I want to achieve more through custom textiles in natural fibers through members organizations, like Fibershed. Fibershed is trying to build that vitally important regional supply chain of producers throughout the United States. My goal is to get beyond the conversations of possibility and move our designs from projects into permanent employment for everyone whom we work with now and will in the future.
At Kámen Road, we have a touchstone phrase – “Made Here. For You.” On this Labor Day, we want to thank you for all your support and for celebrating and supporting the American worker near to us and across the country. Have a wonderful Labor Day weekend!