Anna LaRue’s goal when opening Heart of Carolina four years ago was simple. Bring jobs back to the USA and more specifically, back to North Carolina.
Growing up in St. Pauls, NC, LaRue saw a lot of talent in the area in furniture making, the textile industry, glass blowing, etc., but says she was sad to see the jobs eventually all go overseas.
Years after LaRue got out of the air force, she and her wife decided they wanted to try their best to bring the jobs back to North Carolina.
“We wanted to see the industry, the heartbeat, come back to North Carolina,” LaRue said. “Bring the textiles, bring the talent [back] and show it off that we still have it.”
So in 2016, they opened their shop, Heart of Carolina in the Cotton Exchange in Wilmington.
99% of the items you’ll find in the shop have been manufactured or hand made in North Carolina.
They sell everything from socks, to t shirts, to pottery, home décor, pillows and blankets, jewelry, jams and spices, wine, and so much more – all made in North Carolina.
LaRue says they even sell t shirts that have a different a color thread on the bottom of the shirt which represents the specific farm the cotton for the t shirt was grown on.
“From dirt to shirt, all here, all North Carolina,” LaRue said. “You’re supporting the farmer, the grower, they dyer, the spinner, the truck driver, all the way through from the dirt all the way through to the finished product.”
LaRue says in order to bring jobs back to the are, “you have to start with where you are.”
“We talk, ‘Made in the USA’ but you’ve got to start somewhere,” she said. “If you don’t support your part of the earth, it can’t grow. So support your neighborhood. Support your community, and from there, we can expand. But you have to start with a seed. And then get that seed to grow.”
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