When Rachel and Jim Malloy, creators of Bunky Boutique, Chris Nieto, founder of Merzproject Architects and Alan Lobock, co-founder of Skymall announced they were joining forces to create a connection between local wholesalers and retailers, we were all ears.
Loyal to the Soil, they say, will be a web-based platform that will connect local Arizona designers, manufacturers and wholesalers with local retailers with the goal of strengthening Arizona's economy.
The founders say they started Loyal to the Soil with a goal to "shine a spotlight on the Arizona design and manufacturing communities and showcase Arizona as a place to do business."
Loyal to the Soil aims to bring together local suppliers and retailers to keep every penny -- from production to purchase -- in Arizona.
The Phoenix-based start-up was one of 16 projects, out of 191 proposals, selected for SEEDspot's inaugural Venture Program that supports entrepreneurs develop and launch their businesses.
"We look for businesses that support the state or the community and Loyal to the Soil basically had this baked into its DNA, to make Arizona's economy stronger," says SEEDspot co-founder Courtney Klein Johnson.
SEEDspot supports "social entrepreneurs" whose for-profit businesses will create positive impact in their local, national or international communities.
"The economic impact of keeping dollars in Arizona has the trickle down effect of providing more money for our schools and for our libraries, for example," Johnson says.
The project also aims to educate Arizonans about the benefits of shopping locally.
"A lot of people are not aware of what exactly is made or purchased [in Arizona]," the founders wrote in a statement to Jackalope Ranch. "There is a disconnect. Loyal to the Soil shows that what people want or need might be closer than they think."
The project is still in development, but, when completed, local retailers and suppliers will be able to use the platform to connect and set up business partnerships.
Already, Loyal to the Soil has earned the support of Local First Arizona, a powerful force behind the local movement.
Kimber Lanning, founder and executive director of Local First Arizona, says Loyal to the Soil will bring recognition to Arizona's businesses and strengthen the state's economy.
"What Loyal to the Soil will do for the local movement is to educate consumers and build civic pride," Lanning says. "Their database will be a source for people to educate themselves about all the cool stuff being made in Arizona."
Lanning compares the Loyal to the Soil database to websites such as MadeinUSA.org and Americansworking.com, which provide searchable databases of products made in the U.S.. She says the popularity of these sites highlights the need for something similar at a state level: "The more we can enforce local sourcing, the stronger the Arizona economy will be."
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The Loyal to the Soil team welcomes input from the public, especially from the local retailing and wholesaling community. Right now the founders are asking local retailers and wholesalers to fill out respective online surveys that will help it tailor the database to this community's needs. (Click here for the retailer survey and here for the wholesaler survey.)
On May 17, Loyal to the Soil will unveil its business to the public and potential investors during a demonstration day hosted by SEEDspot, the final step of the Venture Program.