Archive for August, 2014

Made in USA San Diego Brands Succeed in Apparel Market

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

Would you be surprised to find out that San Diego has a fashion design industry? On July 30th, the Fashion Group International San Diego held a meeting, titled “Going from Designer to Manufacturer,” featuring Barrie Kauffman and Heather Haas from two San Diego based clothing lines: Fables by Barrie and Fiveloaves Twofish. Both of these brands are designed and manufactured right here in San Diego, not made across the border in Mexico and not made in China like other brands founded and still headquartered in San Diego.

Since the 1980s, the San Diego region has been known for its active sports line of clothing and shoes. In addition to the golf and sports apparel of San Diego-based Calloway and Taylor Made, other San Diego companies include: Reef, starting with casual sandals in the 1980s and branching into a complete line of men’s and women’s sportswear in 2002; Bad Boy starting with T-shirts and shorts for local surfers, skaters and motocross riders in the early eighties and expanding into action sport and combat sport lines in the 1990s; and Tribal Gear, launched in 1989 as a Southern California lifestyle inspired clothing brand, until its original San Diego based shop closed in 2012. None of these brands claim their products are “Made in USA.”

On the Fables by Barrie website, Barrie says that she started her company in 2007 to create stylish, whimsical, and head turning clothing for women. “Since 2007 I’ve been striving to meet these goals with a good mixture of kindness and elbow grease…I’m very pleased to tell you that Fables is designed, developed, and manufactured in San Diego, California USA. We take pride in being most definitely sweatshop-free…We are very aware that our creations cost a bit more than so many similar-style brands, much less knockoffs, so we want to thank you for your continued support through the years ….”

A feature article in the San Diego Union Tribune in July 2010 described her line as vintage style inspired fashions for ladies, specializing in swimwear, Western wear for women that kind of look like a chic version of the outfits on “Hee Haw,” and dresses. Kaufman makes clothes using lots of primary colors, bows, ribbons and ruffles. The popularity of her red, white and blue swimming suits, which are sold in places like South America, Puerto Rico, Israel and Australia, helped propel Kaufman from Internet saleswoman to boutique owner. She opened her first boutique, Fables by Barrie in the Hillcrest area of San Diego in April 2010.

Fiveloaves Twofish was founded by Kit Kuriakose and Heather Haas in 2009. Kit is the head fashion designer, and Heather functions as COO. Fiveloaves Twofish is a fashion design house for girls, tweens and teens. The design house was originally in the art district of Little Italy near downtown San Diego, but relocated to the Liberty Station area in and is open to the public.

The website states, “It is a fashion driven lifestyle brand for girls, tweens, and young contemporaries” and describes the collection as an “all encompassing look, attitude, and way of life,” saying they “design clothing for the up and coming generation’s needs, wants and desires.” They “design in order for girls to grow-up and enjoy each stage from 4 to 16, while allowing them to embrace the transitions from little girl, to girl, to tween. We like to call these stages the age of exploration, as girls are caught between ‘little’ girlhood and ‘juniors.’ During this age of exploration, Fiveloaves Twofish provides girls with a rich collection of varying attitudes that allows girls to play with who they will become each and every day.” The brand is sold in boutiques and department stores nationwide, with Nordstrom being one of their major department store outlets.

The website touts that “all our fashion is designed and patterned in our design house in San Diego. We take great pride that all our manufacturing from design to completion is done not only in America but also locally in San Diego, CA.We source our raw materials locally at first, using about 50% from local suppliers and 50% from overseas. All our packing material is recyclable, and waste is kept to a minimum.” The website encourages clients to wash their clothing in cold water and line dry it, saying “This is not only better for the longevity of your clothing, it is also easier on the planet.”

Fiveloaves Twofish’s website offers a challenge to clients: Know what you buy and read labels. Buy from companies that treat workers, animals and the environment with respect.

Barrie and Heather were asked by the moderator to describe how “went to market.” Barrie explained that “Going to market” means exhibiting in a major trade show in the fashion industry. The market calendar means that you sell your spring line in August and October, and your fall line in January and March. Barrie said that she started selling at craft shows in 2007 and “went to market” in 2009. She started with two swimsuits and one pair of shorts at the Magic show in Las Vegas.

Heather said they started in a tiny studio with 10 – 15 of each style, and it was a matter of either going to market or closing down. They went to market at a children’s show in New York in 2010 as that is where you have to go for children’s clothes. She said that all the big accounts (major chain stores) place their orders at the August and January shows, so they have spent all of their money by the October and March shows. The boutiques and small chains come to the shows in October and March to place their orders. She said that this can often work out better for a new brand as it is hard to meet the production needs of the big accounts when you start out.

An information handout for attendees said the major U. S. markets are: Los Angeles, New York, Dallas, Chicago, and Atlanta. There are trade shows conducted in these markets, with two of the biggest being the ENK show in New York and Magic in Las Vegas.

Heather and Barrie were asked what the costs to participate in trade shows are. Barrie said it started out as low as $2,500 for a booth at the Pool show, but that show costs $4,600 now. Then, you have to add in the cost of either renting or building “walls” for your booths. She explained that all booths have to have “walls” on three sides, so the booth is only open to the aisle. You can build the “walls” out of a variety of sturdy materials and cover them with contact paper.

Heather said that the children’s show in New York costs $3,000 for a 6′ X 10′ booth and besides the costs of building the “walls,” you have to add the cost of hotels, which in New York can run $5,000. Both ladies were leaving town at the end of the week to exhibit at one of the trade shows held the first week of August.

Heather said that you need to make a commitment to participate in trade shows for at least a year, so the buyers can gain confidence that you are going to stay in business. She added, “Our first New York show paid for itself. The accounts that make a show worthwhile don’t write orders at the show.” Barrie said that her biggest customer is Mod Cloth, and they were her first customer.

The next question was whether or not they used “reps” and had “showrooms.” Barrie said she doesn’t have any “reps” now, but is looking into it. Heather said they have “reps, and have show rooms in Los Angeles, Dallas, Atlanta, and London. She added, “Reps that go after them work out better. We pay a 12% commission and have show room fees in Los Angeles and Atlanta.”

The meeting handout explained that “reps are individuals you hire in different market locations to show your line for you. They usually carry 12-15 lines. They are paid by commission of the sales they make for you and also often charge a showroom fee.”

An audience member asked where they buy their material. Heather said you need to start with the streets of L. A. (the garment district) to buy smaller lots of material because to buy wholesale, you need to order 60 – 70 yards. She said they started out simple ? solid colors and no trims. She advised, “Always be honest.” [In other words, don’t inflate the size of what you may order in the future to get a cheaper price for your small order.]

Neither Barrie nor Heather felt people are willing to pay more just because their lines are “Made in USA.” They both said they have a problem with “knockoffs,” that is, copies of their styles mainly by foreign companies in Asia. I learned that the design of an article of clothing is not something you can patent, so there are no intellectual property rights to protect your designs. You can only trademark your brand of clothing. Thus, manufacturing of clothing is even riskier than the high-tech products with which I am familiar.

It is good to see the manufacturing side of San Diego’s clothing industry resurge after better-known apparel lines of companies headquartered in San Diego outsourced their manufacturing offshore. If boutique apparel companies can be successful making their clothing in San Diego using American workers, then think of the outrageous prices other apparel companies are charging by manufacturing their clothing in offshore countries like China, Vietnam, and India. By their success, Fables by Barrie and Fiveloaves Twofish have exploded the myth that one must manufacture their apparel offshore in order to be profitable. We consumers need to check labels and support companies that are manufacturing in the U.S. and creating jobs for other Americans.

San Diego Inventors Forum Contest Features Breakthrough Technology

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

The San Diego region is truly a hotbed of ingenuity and inventiveness as evidenced by the 9th annual Invention Contest held by the San Diego Inventors Forum on Thursday, August 14, 2014, at the conference facilities of the Jack-in-the Box headquarters. There were more than 25 applicants for the contest, and five finalists were chosen for the New Technology category, and eight finalists were chosen for the Best Consumer Product category. Each contestant had five minutes to present their new technology or product and one minute to answer questions. At the end of the presentations, the audience of nearly a hundred voted for the best in each category. The winners were:

For Best New Technology:

First Place: David Horrigan, founder of Admiral Fluidics, for his SolidWater™ (or Caudal Prop™) Ship Propulsion System. SolidWater™ is a trademark of Horrigan Labs Corporation, CaudalProp™ is a trademark of Genero Labs Corp (Patent Number US Provisional 61/844,313 PCT Filed)

The benefits of this highly efficient ship propulsion system include: 70% lower fuel use and resultant atmospheric carbon emission, lower horsepower requirement, cheaper engine cost, antifouling, and no rudder needed. The system provides three breakthroughs in technology: Blade design eliminates cavitation; Linkage simplifies Caudal cycle and varies angle of propeller performing like a continuously variable automatic transmission; Assembly design eliminates deflection energy losses.

The next step will be to build a 20 hp, 600 lb. thrust system that is expected to have the thrust force and performance of a 90 hp diesel. There is a big market for this size for use by 30-50 ft. sailboats, most government research vehicles, and commercial fishing boats. The final production sizes of the propulsion system will also include a 2,000 lb. system and a 100-ton system. This propulsion system is truly a paradigm shift in propulsion technology.

The management team has been selected, and Mr. Horrigan envisions having 50 employees when they go into production, with the systems being “Made in the USA.”

Second Place: Carl Yee for his product, Paper Saver Ink (Patent number: 8,328,317)

Paper Saver Ink is a new type of inkjet ink for temporary printing that erases itself over time. This enables the same sheet of paper to be printed over and over again. A document is printed on paper, read or reviewed as normal, and then set aside. The ink gradually undergoes a chemical reaction with the atmosphere and loses its color, leaving behind a blank sheet of paper. When the printer or copier needs more paper, this blank paper is loaded back in, ready to be printed again.

Mr. Yee will be doing a few more months of product development work and then do a Kickstarter campaign for seed funding.

Third Place: Hal Slater for his Geothermal Water Heater

The Geothermal Water Heater is a new, highly efficient water heating design for residences in temperate and tropical climates. The GWHP extracts excess heat from the cold water used throughout the home with a water-to-water heat pump to heat the hot water used throughout the home. The key factors are that: 1) the typical residence uses three to four times as much cold water as hot water, 2) in some climates the cold water is about 15º-20ºF warmer than it needs to be and 3) water-to-water heat pumps are, on average, more than twice as efficient as air-to-water heat pumps. For more information, contact Hal Slater at

Other contestants in the Technology category were:

Gary Abramov – Ultra Miniature Defibrillator

The ultra-miniature external defibrillator (two-part set, each the size of a silver dollar) is based on reduced defibrillation energy via bypass of skin resistance. It enables 45 times improvement in weight and size of present external defibrillators. The target markets are military, government agencies and first-responders. Clinical trials are being held to obtain a FDA Class 3 approval.

Paul Moretto, Universal Wind Turbine LLC – Wind Turbine Generation System (WTGS) (Patent Number 7,888,810 B2)

It is vertically shafted and is inspired by jet engine design. It utilizes two turbines connected on a horizontal plan. The incoming wind is directed to the horizontally positioned blades of the turbines through four wind channels thereby increasing dramatically the WTGS power. To increase wind efficiency even more, two systems have been created to ensure rotatable advantages for the WTGS: (1) the top turbine rests on fixed and inverted casters, and (2) the lower turbine, rests and rotates on a bed of viscous liquid. Both systems eliminates friction, vibration, and noise, while increasing the viability of the WTGS’ capability of functioning in low wind speeds, as demonstrated on the Beaufort Scale. The WTGS is a 4-foot high freestanding turbine intended for individual home and commercial application. The company is in the process of working with Riverside County and University of California, Riverside for the modeling and prototype of the WTGS. The WTGS will utilize as many recyclable materials as possible.

For Best New Consumer Product:

First Place: Abel Monzon for his Cover & Vent Register, a collapsing vent register cover (Patent Pending)

This product is an insulated ceiling register cover designed to prevent heat loss and cold drafts when your AC is not in use. It facilitates opening and closing of your register and provides an airtight seal to save energy by preventing thermodynamics from occurring through partially open vents. It also makes opening and closing vents easier than conventional products currently on the market. It has a uniquely designed mounting bracket that will hold this universal cover to the majority of ceiling vents from size 6″ to 12″. It can also be used in place of your existing ceiling register. It has an aesthetically pleasing appearance and installs in just minutes.Further development and testing will be done before launching a website. For further information, you may contact Mr. Monzon at

Second Place: Don Johnson for his Thera Point Focal Pressure Support (Patent pending), FDA Class 1 approved

Thera Point is a wearable provides advanced support with focal pressure therapy to help relieve symptoms of tennis or golfers elbow.Its exclusive 3-way adjustability provides custom fit and improved product performance. Latex free neoprene construction provides thermal benefit. It is washable and suitable for use at work or play. A storage bag included. In trials, participants showed an average VAS pain score reduction from 7.39 to 1.5 after wearing Thera Point for only 2 weeks. It is estimated there are up to 9,000,000 cases of tennis elbow annually… in the U.S.

Third Place: Chris Baker, EBG Design & Manufacture, for his Multi-Vise System (Patented March 2014)

The Multi-Vise System comes in a two-head, three-head, and four-head-vise configuration and can hold objects in any orientation, each vise independent to the other, with multi positions due to the rotating ball clamp.

The system works on the philosophy that it is better to clamp an object securely into a vise and then move and lock the vise into the desired position rather than trying to “fit” a clamp around the objects.

Ideal for holding and positioning objects securely for; gluing, painting, cutting and cleaning, etc. Once the object(s) are in position, the entire assembly can be tilted and swiveled due to a fifth ball clamp, giving much flexibility to the operator. The system is also available with attachments designed to support and hold printed circuit boards – making it the ideal platform for printed circuit board assembly, soldering and testing, etc.

Other contestants in the New Consumer Product category were:

Les Robbins – Snow Guard is the first windshield cover that protects your automobile’s windshield from snow and ice as well as the side view mirrors. It has a universal fit with flexible mirror gloves.

Patrick Trusio – Wall Hanging Wafer Device to simplify alignment, placement and fastening of items such as framed art, pictures or wall hangings. It is an injection molded thermoplastic device to simplify alignment, placement and fastening of items such as framed art, pictures or wall hangings. Self-adhesive backing bonds the device to back of an item. A slot allows a pushpin to be inserted and nest firmly in place. Exerting pressure forces pushpin into wall affixing item to wall. Slot allows item to be lifted off pushpin and removed from wall.

Harry Katcher – The Car Cubby – The Car Cubby is a portable, collapsible, washable car storage system. It holds your grocery bags in place while you drive.

Allen Young of Tallac LLC – VIER Compact and Secure Lock (Patent Pending)Vier is a compact high security lock that use two locking bodies and two shackles. When disassembled, the four pieces fit into a bag the size of a burrito and weighs only 3 1/2 lbs. This hardened steel lock would replace a conventional U-lock. Vier just completed a successful Kickstarter campaign. For further information contact Allen at

Coral Bergman – Signwinder™ (Patent Pending) – a stretchable elastomeric fastener for attaching signs to posts, fences, light poles, etc. to increase visibility of such signs as real estate open house and garage sale signs by raising them to well above the line-of-sight.

The San Diego Inventors Forum will start its 10th year next month. I am honored to be on the steering committee for the Inventors Forum to meet San Diego’s inventors and assist them towards successful entrepreneurism. During the course of our monthly meetings, we essentially provide the inventors with a course in entrepreneurism. As part of our informal curriculum, I give a presentation on how to select the right manufacturing processes for their new product. We look forward to another great year!

How Multinational Agribusinesses are Attacking Country of Origin Labeling

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

If you have bought any packaged meat recently, you may have noticed a new type labe:  a Country of Origin label that may list up to three countries under the categories of “born, raised, and slaughtered.” Consumer groups have long advocated for Country of Origin labeling, but not everyone in the food supply chain is pleased.

On July 22, 2014, Bill Bullard, CEO, R-CALF USA presented a webinar, titled “Country of Origin Labeling: How Multinational Agribusinesses Are Attacking This Law” to members of the Coalition for a Prosperous America (CPA) and sponsoring organizations.

He explained that County of Origin Labeling is not new. The Federal Meat Inspection Act of 1906 was passed by Congress to prevent adulterated or misbranded meat and meat products from being sold and to ensure that meat and meat products are slaughtered and processed under sanitary conditions. It required labels on imported meat, but the USDA considered imports of non-retail-ready meat products to be of domestic origin once they passed a U.S. safety inspection, so origin markings were not maintained. The USDA also considered imported livestock to be domestic after its Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service inspects and releases these animals. USDA inspection of poultry was added by the Poultry Products Inspection Act of 1957.

The Tariff Act of 1930 required that every imported item must be conspicuously and indelibly marked to indicate to the “ultimate purchaser” its country of origin. Products were exempt if they were too difficult or economically prohibitive to mark. The list of exemptions included livestock, “natural” or raw agriculture products such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, and berries.

Mr. Bullard stated that Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) was included in 2002 Farm Bill. It covered muscle cuts of beef, lamb, and pork; ground beef, ground lamb, and ground pork; farm-raised fish and wild fish; perishable agricultural commodities (fruits and vegetables); peanuts.

However, Mr. Bullard explained that this requirement applies to retailers (grocery stores), but not restaurants or if sold by retailer not required to be licensed under PACA (Perishable Agriculture Commodities Act), such as specialty markets, fish markets, butcher shops or roadside stands.

The USDA rules for COOL exempt “processed” versions of the foods, so that the following are exempt:

  • cooked, roasted, smoked or cured (even teriyaki flavored meat)
  • combined with one other ingredient

Most nuts sold in grocery stores are roasted, so they aren’t labeled. Ham, bacon, sausage and other products in the pork section of the meat case are exempt because they are smoked or cured.

However, he started that there was an 11-year delay in writing the rules for USA Label for USA-born, raised, and slaughtered beef. The multinational agribusinesses and their trade organizations like the American Meat Institute (AMI) and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) fought hard to stop Implementation of this label. They convinced then Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman to support their efforts to keep consumers in the dark.

Congress’ FY 2004 appropriations bill delayed COOL for everything except wild and farm-raised fish and shellfish until Sept. 30, 2006. Congress’ FY 2006 appropriations bill further delayed COOL for everything except wild and farm-raised fish and shellfish until Sept. 30, 2008.

Just days before the 2009 presidential inauguration, on Jan. 15, 2009, USDA issued its final rule on COOL. It allowed packers to commingle a single foreign animal during a day’s production and then label the entire day’s production as “Product of U.S. and Canada and/or Mexico.”

Despite the quid pro quo, on May 7, 2009, both Canada and Mexico filed actions with the World Trade Organization (WTO) alleging COOL violated U.S. obligations under various WTO agreements.

In 2012, the WTO faulted COOL and ruled (in part):

  • Violates Article 2.1 of the WTO TBT Agreement because COOL’s recordkeeping and verification requirements impose a disproportionate burden on upstream producers and processors, because the level of information conveyed to consumers through the mandatory labeling requirements is far less detailed and accurate than the information required to be tracked and transmitted by these producers and processors.
  • These same recordkeeping and verification requirements “necessitate” segregation, meaning that the associated compliance costs are higher for entities that process livestock of different origins resulting in a detrimental impact on the competitive opportunities of imported livestock.
  • The COOL labels contain confusing and inaccurate information.
  • The regulatory distinctions imposed by the COOL measure amount to arbitrary and unjustifiable discrimination against imported livestock, such that they cannot be said to be applied in an even-handed manner. Accordingly, we find that the detrimental impact on imported livestock does not stem exclusively from a legitimate regulatory distinction but, instead, reflects discrimination in violation of Article 2.1 of the TBT Agreement.

On May 24, 2013, the U.S. informed the Dispute Settlement Board that on 23 May 2013, the USDA had issued a final rule that made certain changes to the COOL labeling requirements that had been found to be inconsistent with Article 2.1 of the TBT Agreement. The U.S. was of the view that the final rule had brought it into compliance with the DSB recommendations and rulings.

This rule reversed their concession of 2009 to consider comingled livestock as a U.S. product. The new implementing regulations require the label to show the Country of Origin for the production steps of born, raised, and slaughtered in the U.S.

This effectively ended the deceptive practice of commingling that previously allowed meat exclusively from U.S. animals to be mislabeled as if it were meat from multiple origins, such as the inaccurate label: “Product of the Canada, Mexico and the U.S.

Mr. Bullard said that the benefits of this regulation are:

  • Optimizes U.S. Value-Added Supply Chains
  • Prevents industry consolidation
  • Prevents consumer deception
  • Enhances competition
  • Provides synchronous information (between consumer and packer/retailer)
  • Facilitates more accurate price discovery
  • Provides consumers with more choices
  • Empowers consumers to make informed decisions
  • Provides food safety proxy for expression of nationalism/patriotism

However, Canada did not agree that the changes brought the U.S. into full compliance. In its view, the changes were more restrictive and caused further harm. On August 19, 2013, Canada requested the establishment of a compliance panel. Brazil, China, the European Union, India, Japan, Korea and New Zealand reserved their third-party rights, followed by Australia, Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico. On September 27, 2013, the compliance panel was composed. On 26 March 2014, the Chair of the compliance panel informed the DSB that the compliance panel expects to issue its final report to the parties towards the end of July 2014 (not issued as of this date.)

In the meantime, the WTO and multinational Agribusinesses continued to promote global supply chains. The World Trade Organization has been working on the “Made in the World” initiative for years. The WTO’s Made in the World initiative is part of a process of “re-engineering global governance.” On February 26, 2013, Former WTO Director General Pascal Lamy, said, “Fewer and fewer products are actually ‘Made in the UK’ or ‘Made in Switzerland’, and more and more are ‘Made in the World.’”

According to Mr. Bullard, the multinational agribusinesses and their allies have used every front to defeat COOL: U.S. Federal Courts, the U.S. Congress, industry propaganda, and the WTO.

COOL has been attacked in Federal Court by the American Meat Institute (AMI), National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), National Pork Producers Council, American Association of Meat Processors, North American Meat Association, Southwest Meat Association, Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, Canadian Pork Council, and the Confederacion Nacional De Organizaciones Ganaderas.

The arguments they used were:

  • COOL violates their constitutionally protected rights to freedom of speech.
  • COOL improperly prohibits them from “commingling.”
  • The “Born, Raised, and Slaughtered” labels are not authorized by the 2002 COOL statute amended in 2008.
  • There is no substantial governmental interest in informing consumers where the meat they buy for their families was born, raised and slaughtered.

Thus far, the U. S. Courts have upheld COOL: the U.S. District Court for District of Columbia denied the Preliminary Injunction request, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for District of Columbia Circuit affirmed the District Court judgment. However, on April 4, 2014, the appeals court vacated its judgment and issued an order for the case to be heard en banc regarding the narrow issue related to the First Amendment, and a decision is pending.

The multinational agribusinesses have tried to eliminate or weaken COOL in each of the past three U.S. Farm Bills, but failed in their effort to include language to weaken COOL by allowing a “North American” label. They did succeed in adding anti-COOL language in House Agriculture Appropriations Committee report language.

In conclusion, Mr. Bullard explained that the main reason why COOL is under attack is the fact that the U.S. Department of Justice and USDA have failed to enforce U.S. antitrust laws and market competition laws against multinational meatpackers. In addition, unrestrained mergers and acquisitions, and the lack of enforcement of anticompetitive practices have accorded U.S. multinational meatpackers oligopolistic market power in U.S. meat markets (four firms control about 85% of beef market). As a result of this market power, meatpackers can and do discriminate against whomever they choose, including the countries of Canada and Mexico.

He said that COOL is the most pro-producer, pro-consumer, and pro-competition legislation to be passed by Congress in a long, long time, and it must be preserved.