Liz and Roo owners Carol Ann Anderson and Caroline Eager this year fulfilled a major business goal.
“The basis of starting the business I started is all about shop local, and I wanted to have a product that was made in America,” Eager said. “I just had this dream of having it all in Kentucky.”
This spring, that came true when Liz and Roo contracted with a Carlisle, Ky.-based factory called 3 Star Industries to manufacture their lines of crib bedding and accessories, as well as products for Eager’s American Made Dorm & Home business.
The companies are still in the process of transferring the manufacturing of various goods from North Carolina to Kentucky. Currently, four 3 Star employees’ work days are dedicated full-time to making items for Liz and Roo and American Made Dorm & Home.
Before connecting with 3 Star Industries, which bought the former Jockey factory in Carlisle, Eager said they couldn’t find a factory in the state that could make Liz and Roo or American Made Dorm & Home products.
“It’s important to find a plant or a mill that has people that know how to sew bedding and has the equipment,” Eager said.
The employees who previously worked at Jockey were extremely knowledgeable, she said, so 3 Star Industries hired some of them back to make goods for her company and others. Some have even offered useful design ideas for Liz and Roo.
Eager said the company connected with 3 Star Industries thanks to Louisville’s chamber of commerce Greater Louisville Inc. and Kentucky Innovation Network, an economic development organization managed in partnership with the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development and Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation.
“I was introduced to Rick Johnson with Kentucky Innovation Network, and Rick one day — knowing what the dream was — said ‘I know somebody I want you to meet,’” she added, recalling how she connected with 3 Star Industries.
The cost of doing business in Kentucky is comparable to that of North Carolina, Eager said, but a major difference is freight costs, which are lower since the goods have a short distance to travel to Liz and Roo’s Butchertown headquarters. The new location also allows Eager to travel to the factory at least biweekly if not more often.
Liz and Roo and American Made Dorm & Home have roughly 47,000 square feet of space in the Carlisle facility for manufacturing, which offers them the opportunity to expand their product output. Liz and Roo, for example, got an account with Bed Bath and Beyond subsidiary Buy Buy Baby to create a unique line just for that store, which could rapidly grow the number of orders Liz and Roo are receiving.
“That is growing nicely, so we needed assurance that we not only had the space but the employees or the ability to bring on more employees, and 3 Star offers that for us,” Eager said. “The sky’s the limit with the facility we have there.”
Liz and Roo also currently are negotiating with two companies, one retail store and one online business, that could lead to the Louisville company selling its products in China. With China relaxing its one-child policy, there is growth potential there, Eager said. Some consumers there want a “higher end, higher quality product.”
Although Eager declined to disclose sales numbers, Eager said her businesses’ revenues are expected to grow 35 percent this year.