The Bluelace Project, which launched on Tuesday via a Kickstarter campaign, wants to make blue shoelaces a symbol of support for American manufacturing that is as visible and instantly recognizable as the yellow ribbon symbolizes support for U.S. troops.
The effort, spearheaded by Jake Bronstein (founder and chief executive of the made-in-America Flint and Tinder underwear brand) aims to raise $25,000 by Dec. 19 so that it can fire up the machines and manufacture a run of blue-hued, 51-inch shoelaces -- and inspire some enthusiasm for made in America merchandise.
According to the press materials sent our way -- including a video of a fellow pulling a 13,000-pound truck with a pair -- these aren't going to be your run-of-the-mill laces.
"[T]o do it, we've partnered with one of the last shoelace manufacturers left in America," Bronstein says in the announcement. "We challenged them to develop the very best product they've ever created. They came back with a lace unlike any we'd seen -- a braided, high density, waxed canvas piece tipped in aluminum.
"This is about more than re-setting expectations and supporting an American factory on the ropes," the announcement continues. "It's about giving American manufacturing its own yellow ribbon: a wearable way to show support for the war they're waging daily. A symbol that retailers can see that lets them know that if they start stocking the right domestically produced product, their customers will care. It's time to support each other again. It's time to try harder again."
According to the Bluelace Project page at Kickstarter.com, the funds from each $5 pledge will be allocated as follows:
"$1 goes to Processing fees (10% of all money received is paid directly to New York City-based Kickstarter and Amazon for processing the transaction)
$2 goes directly to our shoelace factory in Portsmouth, Ohio, for manufacturing the laces using American materials and shipping them to our warehouse.
$1 covers shipping, this includes the stamps purchased from USPS and the envelope bought in bulk from our Texas-based manufacturer.
$1 is paid to our Henderson, Nevada, warehouse for packing each individual order (likely a set of BLUELACES plus whatever additional goodies we decide to throw in the pouch)."
We must get 100 emails a month pitching a new made-in-the-U.S. product, project, Web clearinghouse or the like – and even more that tout the latest in crowd-funded fashion. But what really appeals to us about this (apart from the fact that it combines both) is the sheer simplicity and straightforwardness of the item and the symbolism behind it.
Yes, a $5 pledge gets you a pair of high-quality, eye-catching laces. It also sends a message that you've, in one small way, very visibly voted with your feet.
And if these blue shoelaces manage to lift the enthusiasm for buying American-manufactured goods -- even the tiniest bit? Well, we'd consider that a far more impressive feat of strength than pulling a 13,000-pound truck.
As of this writing it appears that Bornstein might be well on his way to tying this one up in a big shoelace-appropriate bow -- the first four hours of the campaign generated 1,120 backers pledging $16,387 toward the $25,000 goal.
At this rate, we won't be surprised if the Bluelace Project is fully funded in time to tie one on for happy hour.
[For the Record, 5:10 p.m. PST Nov. 19: An earlier version of this post referred to the Bluelace Project as the Blue Lace Project.]