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First Coast Connect: Keeping It Local



Local business owner Katherine Way started a clothing company four years ago with one goal in mind: keep jobs in the United states. 

The products in the fashion line, Katherine Way Collections, are made in the U.S.  It started out in just eight stores and has now expanded into over 300 stores across the country.

Way appeared on Monday’s First Coast Connect to discuss why she believes it is important for businesses to keep jobs in the U.S.

“It was important for me to try and find a manufacturing plant here in Florida to sew, so I could get there quickly, but also ship directly out of here,” Way said.

The fabrics and prints are produced in California. They are then shipped to Miami and sewn into dresses, before arriving in Jacksonville. The dresses are then distributed to boutiques, country clubs and resorts across the country.

Although outsourcing jobs may be beneficial financially, Way — along with popular fashion brand, Karen Kane — have brought their products back to the U.S.

“I am taking less of a margin because I want to keep the product at home so it’s really coming out of my own pockets to keep the jobs in the United States,” she said. “We will improve the look and feel of our product, and also keep jobs at home instead of sending jobs overseas where they are not being treated as well. “

She also added her company could probably increase profits up to 10-30 percent if the products were made overseas, however the quality would not be nearly as good and if there needed to be a change within her line, having it located in the US makes it easier for her to fix the problem at hand.

Way’s collection has made a unique statement by using a technology fabric that has built in sunscreen, which causes a higher price point but the clothes last longer and is more durable than other clothing lines.

The idea came from men’s golf ware and she then conducted research to see how she could incorporate the fabric into dresses. The end result was a fabric containing SPF 50+, keeping women cool and comfortable at all times.

Way says the support she continues to receive from Jacksonville women has played a huge part in the success of her fashion career.

“The women here have embraced us quite a bit and have really help put us on the map,” she said. “Not only have they told their friends and families and continue to support us in the every way, but also the networking has been extremely important here in the Jacksonville area.” 

Watch this interview, courtesy of our partner TVJax.