Ronald Reagan said in his farewell address back in 1989 that “all great change in America begins at the dinner table.” There are few better examples of this than Krissy Mashinsky, who, seeing how small businesses in the US suffered during the pandemic, chose to take action.
A proud New Yorker, Krissy often describes herself using 3 words: Mother, wife, and entrepreneur. She attended the Fashion Institute of Technology and Vassar College, developing a reputation as a fierce, courageous, and honest individual that could get any job done.
After graduating, Krissy found herself fascinated by the apparel and fashion industry, getting a position as Marketing Manager at Calvin Klein. This position would then lead her to occupy other leadership positions for BCBG Max Azria, Free People, and URBN. It would be after leaving her position as President at URBN in 2020 that she decided to launch her own venture: NYC Strong.
“I launched NYC STRONG in Spring 2020 to help small businesses and New York’s economy survive the pandemic,” says Krissy about her decision to found the platform. “The idea struck a nerve and I was soon hearing from women all over the country who wanted to build local versions of our burgeoning New York community.”
NYC Strong would eventually evolve to USA Strong, an e-commerce platform specialized in offering made-in-the-USA products to consumers. USA Strong has grown rapidly over the 2 years of its existence, with data showing that every local business that joins chooses to bring 12 more. The idea behind the platform is not only to support local manufacturing but also building a community around the ideal of transparency.
To Krissy, lack of transparency was a special concern at a time when controversy around ethical manufacturing was at an all-time high. With this purpose in mind, the platform makes use of Strong Blockchain™️, which makes use of the technology to facilitate the verification of the product’s origin. Krissy says in this regard:
“Not only is there a growing movement to support the small and medium-sized businesses that sell these goods, but consumer interest in responsible and sustainable supply-chain practices continues to grow. “
By not charging daily fees and being aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, USA Strong has managed to stand out from the competition. In fact, the platform reports that 60% of all partners have charitable arms in their business, further adding to the platform’s local impact.
As a female entrepreneur herself, Krissy was aware of the challenges that women face when it comes to finding investors and getting their businesses out there. While her platform is open to vendors of all genders, Krissy’s efforts have resulted in 70% of all registered shop owners being female. She says in this regard:
“It’s a beautiful thing to watch businesses coming together and male and female entrepreneurs complementing each other. I’m still learning how to do it all. The challenges are sometimes more than I want, but the rewards are always enormous,” she says when asked about balancing work and family.
While Krissy’s original mission was to support local businesses, her ambitions would grow as time passed and her ventures succeeded. Now, she has set her eyes on taking on giants like Amazon which rely on poor supply chain and work practices. She has become a passionate supporter of the #boycottamazon movement and says that USA Strong “won’t stop until we see all our products made locally.”
Research suggests that Millenials and Gen Z are especially interested in supporting local small businesses, a trend that increased after the COVID19 global pandemic. This fact, in addition to their interests in ethical manufacturing and sustainability, makes the timing perfect for platforms like USA Strong to grow.
Despite this, the platform’s success is not fortuitous but the result of Krissy’s passion and experience in the retail industry. She says in this regard:
“My work on usastrong.IO is informed by my two decades of marketing and supply-chain leadership at major apparel brands, most recently URBN (Urban Outfitters).”
In her pursuit to create a community around these principles and reach this demographic, Krissy has added two important features: Shopping by state and StrongTV. Of these, StrongTV is especially interesting as it offers a medium for ambassadors, vendors, and the USA Strong team to be featured.
Krissy’s experiences as an entrepreneur, mother, and wife, have all played a part in making her a successful entrepreneur recognized and admired by many. Now, just like the lighting bugs she chases with her kids, she is chasing that last dream: Getting every American to buy locally.