ARVADA — Despite the fact new fees on imports from China will likely cost Diana West tens of thousands of dollars — and risk the success of her business — the Colorado resident continues to support President Donald Trump, saying she gets why he had to increase tariffs on imported goods from 10 to 16 percent. She just wishes he’d considered the impact on small businesses before he made the changes.
The retaliation from China increased her cost of doing business to 41 percent.
The United States and China are currently embattled in a trade war that will impact businesses across the US, but small businesses such as West’s may feel the most pain. A 16 percent charge on the US side and a 25 percent charge by China, adds $24,000 to West’s initial costs for a synthetic leather product that she says can’t be absorbed by raising her prices.
The former second grade teacher and sex assault survivor says she is a strong Second Amendment supporter because women should feel empowered to protect themselves and their children in any way they can. So, in 2013, West started “It’s in the Bag Boutique,” an Arvada-based online company that specializes in the designer concealed-carry handbags line “Lady Conceal.”
All purses include an ambidextrous concealment pocket for a handgun, with a durable, ballistic-grade lining and a removable, adjustable universal nylon holster. The purses, which are made from synthetic leather, also include locking zippers to safeguard from children.
West initially had the purses made in Mexico, but inconsistent quality forced her to look elsewhere. In 2016, she moved her production to China. They retail between $80-95. Those prices will increase because of the trade wars, she said, but she’s not sure they can withstand the amount needed to absorb the difference.
She is currently awaiting a $60,000 order that was placed before Trump engaged in the import/export war. If the order can get to the US and through customs before June 1, she will avoid the increases, but she’s not optimistic, calling the process slow.
An order she once believed would cost her $6,000 in US customs fees increased to $9,600, but a 25 percent fee China imposed will add another $15,000, and $10,000 in shipping costs brings an initial $60,000 in merchandise to $94,600.
“I don’t have access to large sums of money like that,” West said. “And now they are going to be hard to sell.”
Calling herself a strong conservative, she said she believes very much in what Trump’s doing, but doesn’t know how she is going to survive it. Moving production to the US would increase the cost even more, she said, while moving it to another county may decrease the quality.
“You don’t know what you are going to get,” she said about the quality of changing manufacturers. “We’re just in kind of a holding pattern. We already had this shipment on order when suddenly they say we are going to have to pay this.”