We visited the headquarters of Ace Specialties in Lafayette, Louisiana to meet the company’s owner and president Christl Mahfouz. Since 2015, Ace Specialties has been the official merchandise provider and distributor for the Trump campaign. The company facilitates and distributes all officially-licensed merchandise sold through the Trump campaign’s official website. Any purchase made on the website counts as a contribution to the Trump campaign. We talked with Mahfouz at the Ace Specialties warehouse in Lafayette about how she landed the deal with the Trump campaign. We also got to go inside the factory in Los Angeles County where the Make America Great Again hats are made. Following is a transcript of the video.Christl Mahfouz: My name is Christl Mahfouz. I’m owner of Ace Specialties. Ace Specialties is a promotional product supplier.Narrator: Based in Lafayette, Louisiana, Ace Specialties is the Trump campaign’s official merchandise distributor.Mahfouz: This is our facility here in Lafayette. We have of course our official MAGA hat, that sells like hotcakes. The official Trump navy MAGA t-shirt, it’s definitely the top seller. Build The Wall, which is definitely an American favourite. This is our Trump MAGA mug that we have sold thousands of because everyone loves waking up remembering that President Trump is their president. So this shirt is the LGBTQ for Trump shirt, beautiful design, and we have sold so many. One of our top items in the pet category is definitely by far the MAGA leash.Narrator: Any purchase of official Trump campaign merchandise counts as a campaign contribution. According to a representative from the Trump campaign, more than $US20 million ($AU27 million) worth of merchandise has been sold since July of 2016.Mahfouz: The way we normally work with clients is, we pick out merchandise, we collaborate with the company, and then we fulfil the orders, and we charge a fulfillment fee.Narrator: Before she landed the deal with Trump, Mahfouz specialised in uniform components for the oil and gas industry.Mahfouz: So around 2015, the oil industry in this area was hit very hard. In fact, Lafayette, Louisiana was one of the hardest hit when it came to job losses across the United States. And I just woke up one day and I was like, I don’t know how I’m gonna pay my bills. And I literally prayed every day, asking for direction, asking for you know, give me a sign, please tell me what I’m supposed to do. When President Trump announced he was running, as he was coming down the escalator, I saw a few people wearing t-shirts or holding t-shirts, and I said, that’s it.Narrator: Mahfouz already had a connection with Donald Trump’s son Eric, through his foundation.Mahfouz: My best friend and I, we started a non-profit organisation, raising money for St. Jude Hospital in 2007, and we met Eric in 2011. It was sort of like an instant connection. We had the same passion for raising money for kids with cancer. So I reached out to someone in the Trump org, who then connected me with the campaign team.Narrator: Mahfouz made her pitch at Trump Tower in 2015. We went up to New York and we did a great presentation, Shark Tank-style. So when they called him to come down to look at everything, I was confident, I knew the numbers, I knew the presentation, I knew the website. So when he looked at me and he said, how fast can we get this done? And I said you know, give me a week and I will have a full-blown fulfillment center merchandise ready to go. And I did it. From the get-go, we started to see overwhelming support for President Trump. We were at a point where we were shipping eight to ten thousand packages a day. It was unbelievable. Orders from all across the country. We went from 12 employees to having almost 60, nearly 24 hours a day schedule. We had vast growth very quickly. I think my greatest memory was election night, we brought nine suitcases full of MAGA hats. I never had a doubt. I knew we were gonna win. There was never, ever a doubt in our mind. The best selling product obviously for the campaign is 100% the MAGA hat, the red MAGA hat has been our number one product.Narrator: The MAGA hats are made in Los Angeles. According to the Trump campaign, hundreds of thousands of the hats have been sold.Mahfouz: So when Kanye tweeted out his photo with the MAGA hat, we started to see lots of orders come in, lots of support from new supporters, everyone wanting a MAGA hat. If it’s not green underneath, it’s not official. When we see articles, when we see reports that you know, the hats are made in China or that we were selling China-made hats at the inauguration, it’s not true you know. The news media didn’t do their research because, if you look at the official hat, it’s green, and if it’s not green, it’s not official. With this experience, Ace has definitely received national attention. We are definitely more confident when approaching bigger opportunities to say you know, did you know that we are the official supplier for the Trump campaign? People think you know, if she could do that and handle all the volume, then we definitely know she’s a great partner for us.
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