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MSC ‘carries on’ important role of assisting made-in-USA products

Posted November 11, 2021


CONOVER, N.C. – Kim Hart, founder of RYDIR, started her career in commercial real estate and has now landed herself in the textile industry as an enthusiastic supporter of manufacturing craftsmanship and the people and communities behind it.


Hart and her family began traveling a lot, and with four kids, they brought only carry-ons on their flights. It became frustrating keeping their tote bag or purse attached to their carry-on without it sliding down or falling off.


During one trip, her daughter’s tote bag fell off the carry-on and knocked her daughter down. This sparked an idea and, when Hart returned home, she found an old pair of leggings, cut the legs off and slid it snugly over the tote and the carry-on handles.


After doing an extensive search, she couldn’t find a product out there that met her needs, or an existing patent for one that may be coming to market. This started the search for someone to prototype her product idea: the RYDIR band.


She couldn’t find anyone and needed help determining the right materials and construction for her product. After making call after call, no one wanted to take it on. Eventually, she got referred to the Manufacturing Solutions Center (MSC) at Catawba Valley Community College and met with Tony Whitener, the MSC’s special projects director.


She spent 2019 prototyping and learning the industry lingo/terminology from MSC knitting specialist Alex Cranston. After being brought up to speed on some knitwear education, Hart received positive feedback on her prototype from friends and family and was looking to launch in spring 2020, but was nevertheless postponed until 2021.


Now manufacturing small runs at MSC, Hart said, “I feel really comfortable working with MSC, because I know that they’re there to help me when I’m ready to scale.”


It was impactful for her and her business once she visited MSC and saw the facility and have a greater understanding of what they do.


“When you’re dealing with something you’ve never dealt with before, you need someone to hold your hand through the process,” she said. “Having Alex and Tony there to meet with and discuss future needs and next steps to be successful,” was the guidance Hart needed to get her product to market.


In September, RYDIR hit a new milestone and sold more than 100 units in just one month.


“It was really important for me to have it made in the United States,” she said.


Not just for logistics, but Hart is an extraordinary supporter of the value of “blue-collar work” and would love to see manufacturing make a greater return to this country. She said she is passionate about bringing pride back into manufacturing.


“How we allow it to be viewed as a menial thing is absurd,” she said. “The product has value because the people who created it have value. There is starting to be a shift where people are putting that value in made in America, I want to elevate it from that to put value in the workers here, too. What MSC is creating is impacting someone’s life, not just the consumer, but mine as well.”


Source: MSC

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