By Wayne Allen
The Bluelace Project, an idea that originated with the New York-based company Flint and Tinder. Their idea is to restore the practice of purchasing products made in the USA.
Since the product launched as a www.kickstarter.com project an estimated 12,000 orders of blue laces have shipped from Portsmouth by Sole Choice inc., who manufactures the shoe laces for the Blue Lace Project.
“We inundated our local post office, they had to call-in extra workers and they had to bring in bigger trucks from Columbus,” said Bryan Davis, Vice President of Sales for Sole Choice Inc. “They (blue laces) are being shipped all around the world. We have a lot of international orders going out next week, we shipped out military base and naval ship orders this week.”
When asked what the continued success of the Bluelace Project means, Davis said,”I think the story that’s being told and shared with the world is that American products being made in Portsmouth, Ohio are high quality and they are expectational products. Secondly, we ought to be proud that these products are reaching every corner of this world.”
Davis said they recently shipped an order to a naval ship Japan.
“A sailor is Japan ordered blue laces online and those laces are now in route via the postal service. That’s great that our men and woman in uniform are supporting American made products from other parts of the world and supporting us here,” Davis said. “The symbolic nature of what we’re doing is letting people know that we are making high quality products in the United States, we have high quality workers and literally products right here in Scioto County are going to every corner of the world.”
Davis said as a result of the Bluelace Project, Sole Choice has received a number of inquiries about potential business from other companies.
“I wish we could sell them (Bluelaces) locally, although a lot of people locally ordered them. People can still order them through www.thebluepaceproject.com,” Davis said. “Right now we have 40,000 pair that we have to deliver and we’re going to be finishing that order up on the 14th of February. They (Flint and Tinder) are going to continue to carry it online. I wish I could sell it locally, but I can’t because it’s their product.”
Davis said he was recently contact by a reporter from the New York Times who has covered the southern Ohio area in the past. Davis said the reporter indicated they wanted to come back to the area in March and do a story about the success of the Bluelace Project.
Jake Bronstein, owner of Flint and Tinder, traveled to Sole Choice recently to see for himself how the blue laces are made. During his time in Portsmouth, Bronstein sat down with the Daily Times to talk about the success of the project.
“I think the reason why it’s (Blue Lace Project) taken on a life of its own is because the people who are engaging this idea are not really buying shoelaces or the stuff I’m selling,” Bronstein said. “The backers of the Blue Lace Project are buying into a couple of ideas. Those ideas are, you get what you pay for so you should invest in things and that cheaper is not always better. It’s also time that we invest in each other again, I think that’s really exciting to people and it’s been fun to be apart of and to watch it happen.”
Bronstein said the reaction and response to the Blue Lace Project has been positive.
“When we set out to do it (Blue Lace Project). I called Bryan (Davis) and said I have this idea and what would be the minimum order,” Bronstein said.
He said the minimum order amounted to about 5,000 laces.
“That was our goal, we told ourselves it would be great if we could achieve that, to allow this idea to exist at all,” Bronstein said. “That many people supported the project in day one.”
Bronstein said when the concept of the Blue Lace Project was first envisioned a few milestones were set.
“We had a couple of different missions within the Blue Lace Project. We wanted to make a shoelace and we wanted that shoelace to become a symbol,” Bronstein said. “We said if 5,000 people join us in this then we will start telling some great American manufacturing stories. We’ll do for other business what we’ve done for ourselves. when we reached that first milestone and asked supporters of the Blue Lace Project what’s the first story that should be told. There was some interesting ideas. The thing they (supporters) wanted to know first meeting the shoe lace factory. Let’s learn what the processes are and how this shoelace gets made.”
Bronstein said the thing that’s surprised him the most about how the Blue Laces are made is the the process.
In the end the Bluelace Project kickstarter campaign raised $150,795, with an original of raising $25,000 and 11,749 backers.
While at Sole Choice, Bronstein brought a film crew to Sole Choice, Inc., to shoot a film about how the blue laces are made. The video is now featured on www.thebluepaceproject.com.
Also on www.thebluepaceproject.com ordering information can be found along with other information.
Wayne Allen can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 228 or on Twitter @WayneallenPDT