Editor’s note: This bonus content compliments this article first published in the summer edition of Beyond the Meeting Room, ALHI’s printed magazine, a luxury lifestyle publication focused on sharing compelling, inspirational and educational stories from beyond the four walls of a meeting room.

Brand storytelling is important for connecting with customers.

Lisa Sun, CEO of Gravitas, has a “factory collection” that’s stocked with stylish crossbodies, totes and pouches. The line’s mission? To save jobs in New York City’s Garment District. Many factories shuttered during the pandemic, and those that stayed open have seen their workforce shrink from 20 or 25 workers down to just five, Sun points out on her website.

Every dollar from items in the collection touches 58 people's jobs directly, she says. Customers get a card with their purchase explaining that the cost to produce the item goes directly to New York City seamstresses and vendors and makes note of who sewed the item.

Making clothes in U.S. garment districts could play into the bipartisan legislative efforts to strengthen the country’s manufacturing industry. However, much of the made-in-America focus has centered on technology and robotics, hybrid electronics, 3-D printing and other advanced manufacturing industries.

The Reshoring Institute, though, surveyed Americans on their buying preferences and nearly 70% say they prefer American-made products. Most respondents say they would be willing to pay up to 20% more for products made domestically.

Brands also need to be authentic with customers. While there are truth-in-advertising regulations managed by the Federal Trade Commission, brands across a number of industry sectors have deceived customers by falsely labeling their products as “Made in the USA.” The misleading labels, when compounded by “greenwashing” strategies that make unsubstantiated claims about eco-friendly products, can erode consumer trust.