President Donald Trump’s slogan, “Make America Great Again,” stirs up passion from the manufacturing sector of the country. Trump doubled down on his commitment by hiking tariffs on goods imported from China. As trade agreements are being rewritten and the possibility of more tariff hikes on the horizon (despite the meeting between Trump and the Chinese president in Argentina over the weekend), the pressure to manufacture in the United States is growing.

Increased tariffs means increased cost of goods, driving up prices for consumers who want manufacturing to be brought back to the U.S. It makes sense. If we’re going to have to pay higher prices for products from China, why not just pay higher prices for products from the U.S. instead?

Because manufacturing in the USA doesn’t mean what you think it means.

I recently released a marketing video for my product line that had some footage from the factory. Having spent so much time in the factory and getting to know the workers, I was proud to include them in the video. But almost immediately after I released the video on social media, viewers tore into it with criticism about where the factory was located. “Doesn’t look like you’re manufacturing in the USA,” one person commented. Many comments followed, and dozens of would-be customers swore to never support my business because I am not manufacturing in the U.S.

The commenters were right. I am not manufacturing in the U.S. But I have manufactured in the United States, and the factories — and the people working in them — look exactly the same. The workers are from Korea, Mexico, China--it depends on where the factory owner is from. Chinese owner, Chinese workers, Mexican owner, Mexican workers, and so on. Working with any of these factories would give me the ability to say that my product is “Made in the USA.” But at what cost?

US Manufacturing President Donald Trump tours an advanced manufacturing lab at Northeast Iowa Community College in Peosta, Iowa, July 26, 2018. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

The manufacturing costs in the U.S. are well over double the costs in these respective countries (Korea, China, Mexico). But let’s say we want the shiny label that says “Made in the USA” and try to break down how the manufacturing works in the fashion industry. Machines are typically sourced in China and brought into the factories. Most supplies from fabric, lining, zippers, and other hardware are sourced in China and brought in. Factory workers immigrate from other countries and now reside in California (in this case) where minimum wages are steadily increasing, and, as a result, the cost of manufacturing is also increasing. This is why domestic factories focus on small quantities of high-priced items. There aren’t enough workers to do mass production and not nearly enough resources. Raising the tariffs isn’t going to make resources magically appear in the U.S. It’s also not going to make Americans want to go sit at a sewing machine for eight hours a day in a dimly lit factory where nobody speaks English.

Meanwhile, the factory I work with in India is founded by a man named Muralidharan, who studied leather technology in college. His daughter attended the same college and is following in his footsteps. In his community, working at the factory is a great career — something to aspire to — and the cost of living is much lower than in the U.S. A fair wage there is a fraction of what it is here. Therefore, the cost of hiring a factory in India to sew a leather handbag, for example, is a fraction of what it costs to hire a similar person in the U.S. who most likely would be an immigrant making a barely livable wage -- just enough money to make the cost of manufacturing too high.

In order to “Make America Manufacture Again,” we would need a serious overhaul. We need training for employees, suppliers, and resources for production. Most importantly, we need a different consumer. Today’s consumer does not want to pay Made in the USA prices. Some domestic factories have managed to meet the demand of the consumer by cutting corners and underpaying workers, as explained in this article. In that example, in order to drive down the cost of manufacturing, workers are not paid on time (sometimes not at all) ], and many of the workers are undocumented, making their battle to get back wages paid an even bigger challenge. Does this sound like the American dream?

Is manufacturing where we should be focusing as a country? You could argue that increasing our demand for domestic manufacturing would bring more immigrants in to fill those jobs with skills they learned in their home country. Why not let the manufacturing countries manufacture while recognizing the benefits of their expertise and optimum resources from afar and not force people into barely livable wages in the U.S. — all while we focus on things like innovation, technology, medicine, and clean energy?

Nichole MacDonald is the founder of SashBag, a hands-free, ergonomic bag for women.