People who Inspire: John Ruggieri on being True To US

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John Ruggieri knows that “Made in America” is more than a label. It’s a sure sign that entrepreneurs are providing products and services that are making America stronger. And he wants to be part of the movement.

“I watched the ABC WorldNews Made in America series that sent journalist David Muir into American homes in search of US made products. Homeowners had a hard time finding them. The series opened my eyes and inspired me to be part of the solution,” he said.

John decided to take his more than 25 years of experience in retail buying and product development with companies like Barneys New York, Gucci and Banana Republic to  become an entrepreneur himself. He founded and recently launched an e-commerce website – www.TrueToUs.com featuring American made gifts and accessories.

“Our mission is to offer a selection of well-crafted U.S. made products that consumers will take pride in giving to friends and family, ” he said.

In curating the products, John brings to the table an eye for true quality and craftsmanship.

“When I was with Gucci, I was working with the very best designers and craftsmen making handmade bags, ties, and clothing. In the process, I learned how to make products from some of the most talented artisans in the world.  When I was at Banana Republic, I brought those lessons and items home and taught American manufacturers how to make better products, while still being cost-effective,” he said.

Now, John searches specialty shops and gift shows like Martha Stewart’s American Made Event. While at the show in New York City, he discovered new products for his site and some good business lessons from entrepreneurs taking part in panel discussions.

“Many of the panelists, like me, have worked long and hard in corporate America and decided to make a change. Others took steps while in high school or college to forge their own destiny. Martha reminded everyone that entrepreneurs are of all ages. It’s never too late to make a change and to do what makes you fulfilled,” he said.

Fulfilling his mission to offer consumers the choice to buy American made gifts and accessories, www.TrueToUs.com features the finest made American made products. Each one is selected with gift-giving in mind and includes home goods, fashion accessories, and products for men, women, kids, and pets.

And each one has a story.

There you’ll find Lollacup, a safe and smarter sippy cup, designed by a mom Hanna Lim and her husband as an alternative to other hard-to-handle sippy cups. The couple attracted investments from both Mark Cuban and Robert Herjavec on Shark Tank; Moonspoon, created by a former furniture maker apprentice, Jonathan, who crafted his own spoon out of wood after forgetting to bring a spoon for lunch one day. Later, when he found himself out of work, he went into the business of crafting beautifully designed wooden utensils; and Roundels created by Larry Orlando. The calligraphist creates masterful and lasting keepsakes in the form of elegant roundels to commemorate special events such as anniversaries and weddings.

These and the other people featured on the site have become entrepreneurs either by finding solutions to their own problems or by being expert in their craft. And they all choose to make their products here at home.

The site is attracting the attention of the San Francisco Chronicle, Time Out New York, and Glamour.com, which will feature www.TrueToUs.com products in their holiday gift guides.

John remarked, “Americans want to buy American made, but they don’t always know where to look. Our site provides a solution to consumers, assuring them that they are buying well-made American products and helping to create US jobs.

We empower ourselves by helping local craftsmen and small business owners grow and prosper. The bigger they become, the stronger we become as a nation.”

“People who Inspire” is a series to shine a spotlight on people who have done extraordinary things. If you have experienced a great adventure, survived a life-threatening illness or trauma, overcome obstacles in achieving a goal, or have made an impact on someone’s life, I’d love to hear from you to share your story. Email me at marymotivates@gmail.com so that we can inspire others to be unstoppable in the pursuit of their goals.

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