Why I started Made By Liberty

7 min read

  1. Taking the red pill by accident
    1. Setting the stage
    2. Let’s be honest
    3. Selling our freedom for cheap
    4. Putting two and two together
  2. Made By Liberty is born
  3. A vision for the future

For those who are interested, I thought I’d share the story of how Made By Liberty came into existence. Not because it’s that special or dramatic, but because I think it makes clear what I want Made By Liberty to become, in a way that an “about us”- or “our philosophy”-page never could.

Of course, this is just the story of how the journey began. As we all learn more about the problems that face us and what their solutions might be, the destination will change with it. But hopefully, one day, I’ll be able to write a happy ending.

Man offering red and blue pill.

Taking the red pill by accident

Setting the stage

For someone who wants to help change the manufacturing- and retail industry, I probably don’t have the background you would expect. When I started on this journey, I had absolutely no experience whatsoever in manufacturing or supply chains. Instead, for most of my career, I’ve ran my own small online marketing agency. This basically meant that I promoted other people’s products for a commission or helped them with their advertising and marketing strategies. Perhaps surprisingly however, if it wasn’t for me working in online marketing, I might have never discovered the things that led me to found Made By Liberty.

You see, the world of online sales is huge and it’s filled with people looking to make money fast and without too much effort. Whether they do it by running a social media agency, plastering the internet with affiliate links or even by making those scammy ads you might have seen on Youtube. There is one particular breed of marketer though, that has drawn my attention over the years and I would like to introduce you to today: the so-called online reseller.

This type of marketer has a very simple business strategy. They buy products at dirt-cheap prices from overseas wholesalers or manufacturers, then sell those products to oblivious customers on sites like Amazon or their own web-shops for ridiculous profits. They don’t manufacture anything or design new and better products. At most they’ll put in the effort to create a brand for the product or design a pretty website to make you think you’re getting something special and they can charge you even more. In short, they take the concept of “buy low, sell high” to a whole new level.

As I was operating in the same industry as these resellers, I came to be acutely aware of how many of the products you find online today are sold exactly this way. So how did this lead me to start Made By Liberty? Let me explain.

Let’s be honest

Once I came to realize how much I might be getting overcharged when shopping on the internet, it got pretty hard for me to enjoy it. I often found myself checking sites like Alibaba to see if I could find an exact copy of the product I was about to buy to make sure I wasn’t getting ripped off. More often than not I had to admit defeat and accept that I was probably overpaying.

And it got worse. Because the more I delved into the world of product sourcing, the more I realized that it’s not just small online resellers operating this way. A lot of big brands do exactly the same thing. They buy cheap products from low-income countries, slap a brand-label on them and make a nice, big profit. It eventually got to a point where I got so frustrated I couldn’t enjoy buying anything at all anymore, either through online or physical stores. I never knew whether paying more would give me a better or more ethically made product, or whether I was just lining the pockets of an unscrupulous retailer.

So I kept asking myself the same frustrated question: why can’t companies just be honest about the origin and production cost of the products they sell? Because, in my opinion, if you’re hesitant to share those details with your customers, you should consider whether you’re actually proud of the business you’re running. If you’re interested, I discuss this topic further in my post on the right to an informed choice.

Selling our freedom for cheap

Because of all the time I spent researching products, I realized something else. Almost all consumer products available today are made in a handful of countries, among which China is by far the most prevalent. That’s probably not news to anyone reading this, although you might still ask yourself why that’s a problem.

Graph showing China's manufacturing output going from smaller than Japan's in 2002 to as big as Europe and North America combined in 2022.
Manufacturing output by country or region from 2002 to 2022 (source: world bank)

For a thorough answer to that question, I highly recommend you read my blog-post “Why it matters where products are made, even more than you might think”. But to put it into one word: dependency. For most products we consume today, we have become extremely dependent on countries that are fundamentally opposed to the freedoms we hold dear. Europe’s dependence on Russian gas is a prime example of this. And that’s nothing compared to how reliant the entire world has become on China for almost anything. For a large portion of both raw materials and finished products there are extremely few, if any, alternatives available.

By buying products from countries that have no regard for personal liberty, we are increasingly making them richer and more powerful, as well as making ourselves more and more dependent on their good will. As you may guess, I personally don’t think trading our freedoms for slightly cheaper products is a very good idea.

Because the idea of personal freedom is something that’s very dear to me, I had no choice but to do what I could to reduce my reliance on these regimes and stop funding their growth. I would have to stop buying products made in countries that don’t respect personal liberty. As I mentioned before however, that’s easier said than done.

Putting two and two together

So to sum things up nicely: I realized that we are overpaying for products that are slowly eroding our freedom. Because of this, I started to actively look for companies that made their products in free countries and are as honest as possible with their customers. Unfortunately, these ended up being few and far between.

Because of the lack of transparency I mentioned before, I often had to go through an extraordinary amount of effort to find even the simplest products that matched my criteria. Many times I spend hours searching in vain, only to have to come to the conclusion there wasn’t a single responsibly made option available. This was often so frustrating that I couldn’t imagine anyone who wasn’t truly dedicated to go through all that trouble.

White Made By Liberty soaring bird logo on blue background.

Made By Liberty is born

What I really wanted was a place where I could shop with complete peace of mind. With products made in countries that value personal freedom and with enough respect for customers to be honest with them. But since I was never able to find such a place, I decided I would have to build one myself.

It didn’t take me long however to find out that this wasn’t going to be an easy task. I won’t go into specifics in this post, but there are a lot of obstacles to overcome before building such a store, with an acceptable amount of products, is even remotely possible. However, rather than discourage me, it made me even more motivated and convinced that this is something worth pursuing.

A vision for the future

What started out as a project born out of personal frustration has since developed into something that I believe can truly make the world a more free and honest place. It has become so much bigger than just boycotting certain countries or buying locally. It’s about moving the world closer to liberty and honesty through the power of personal choice. I’m well aware that it will take a lot of hard work and that it will probably always be a work in progress, with plenty of setbacks. But if Made By Liberty can push the world even slightly in the right direction, I think it’s worth putting in the effort.

That’s why I’m so adamant about wanting to create an environment of positivity and optimism at Made By Liberty. It shouldn’t be a place of fear or hatred, but a place of hope and joy over the fact that we’re surrounded by people who want to build a better world and are willing to sacrifice for it. In addition, it’s my belief that only through that infectious optimism will we get other people to join the journey, as it’s something the world could really use right now. I hope you will be joining us, you will be welcomed with open arms!

If you’re interested in becoming part of the solution, simply using the website and buying responsibly goes a long way and helps support the project, as most our income comes from commissions we get when you buy through the links on the website. Also, don’t hesitate to follow us on social media or join our spam-free newsletter! If you think we’re onto something and would like others to know about it, please consider sharing this post and help get the word out. I would really appreciate it!

Picture of Made By Liberty founder Robert

If you found this interesting and you would like to hear more from me, you can stay up to date by joining our email list! I only ever send emails I truly believe you will find interesting and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Share to...