This business began in 2013 with a dream, a Kickstarter campaign, and a small foundry based 20 minutes from my home in Providence. That foundry was where I cut my teeth designing for cast iron as a student, and it’s where I’ve continued to prototype and manufacture many of my designs - but they’re not set up for large scale production. And so, ever since I started Nest, I've been searching for a high volume manufacturer to bring my product to market. The foundry has been incredibly supportive and excited to watch me develop more, waiting for me to outgrow their capacity.
I explored many options over the past three years, and reached out to every stateside, high volume foundry that would give me the time of day. Of the ones that responded to my inquiries, the ones that I had further conversations with, the ones I sent samples and spec sheets to, they all said the same thing - that the quality and consistency I desired would be impossible to achieve in their setups, and they didn’t feel comfortable moving forward into production.
Then I received a response from a company based in Pennsylvania. They've been in business since 1880, producing a lot of other cast iron products. Some of their products are cast stateside, and some of the more delicate and intricately designed pieces are cast with a long time partner overseas. They told me that they would love to explore the option of casting my cookware with their partner, then machine and season the pieces stateside at their facility.
This was not an issue of price - believe it or not. The cost of casting in the States vs. casting overseas is not much different. This was an issue of viability. Of whether or not my business could continue, and more so, whether or not it could grow. So, I explored this option in Pennsylvania for over a year.
Having worked in iron for the past eight years, I can very honestly say, without hesitancy or reservation, that the quality of the castings we are using continues to be superior to anything I've seen here in the States for cookware. In fact, the machinists in Pennsylvania think so as well - and trust me, they've seen castings from everywhere.
The decision to import our castings and keep the machining and seasoning here in the States represents my dedication to quality and American manufacturing. Those two things are not always synonymous, and they’re not always at odds. Reconciling that means sometimes acknowledging and utilizing what other people (and other countries) are able to do better than ourselves and working together to make the best product possible.
I care about design, manufacturing, and legacy knowledge. I care about American jobs and families, and the future of my business. I also care about my customers, I care about quality, and I care about being honest. I was initially conflicted about the prospect of having my cookware made with imported castings. I am a believer in the idea that Made in the USA is a good thing. But what does that phrase really mean? If you want to take a look at the guidelines from the FTC, you'll see that they are incredibly nuanced and specific in order to protect consumers by preventing and eliminating fraud, deception and unfair business practices.
According to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission), our cookware is considered “Made in the USA,” but that phrase has a lot of assumptions attached to it, and I feel compelled to be as transparent as possible about how we do things.
I want to provide the highest quality products possible to my customers. When confronted with what would be sacrificed by trying to produce my cookware entirely stateside, the decision became easier. Quality is most important. Someday, our setup may change. This business might grow to the point of needing its own foundry! I’m looking forward to the possibility of having all of our production stateside. I’m working towards that, and your support helps.
Thanks for taking the time to read this. If you feel as compelled to share your thoughts with me as I have with you, know that I read every email that comes in. It may take me a while to respond, but I will try.