Rachael Ray: 'The American public is fed up with being underemployed'

Rachael Ray
Getty Images
Rachael Ray

When it came to creating her own furniture line, celebrity chef and entrepreneur Rachael Ray wanted it to reflect her lifestyle and beliefs — and that meant making sure it was as American made as possible.

"The American public is fed up with being underemployed," Ray said to CNBC. "I think our employment rate keeps rising, but we have skilled people that are doing jobs that are not skilled. I think we've been frustrated as a country to bring jobs back, and I think we're on a good path. More and more you see 'made in America.' We certainly try as a company to do our part to get it made here and bring jobs back here."

Ray recently spoke about building a personal brand at Advertising Week in New York.

In May, the television personality announced that she was expanding into home furniture. Ray told CNBC that upholstery furniture fromThe Rachael Ray Home Collection are built at Craftmaster Furniture in Hiddenite, North Carolina, which has 700 workers making fabrics and other soft goods. About 40 craftsmen and womenwere involved in a specialty apprenticeship program in upholstery. By the end of the year, Ray claimed there will be more than 1,000 employees at that factory that do work on her line, among other projects.

While some parts of her furniture are manufactured in China, Ray said she selected a factory that is run by two women.

"I'm fine with having my name on products that are partially made in China or all over the world," she said. "But I think you have to balance that. You have to make sure our economy is also being invested in, and we're partners to that. That's our goal with everything."

While her sentiments echo Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's beliefs on bringing jobs back to America, she stopped short of endorsing him.

"I think Donald Trump has a very questionable record of how he treats his employees," Ray said. "I don't publicly support any candidate. I would vote for anyone who I think is qualified for the job and committed to improving the day-to-day life of my fellow Americans."

A Trump spokesperson called the claims "false and baseless." "Donald Trump has created tens of thousands of jobs and employs thousands of people at the Trump Organization," she told CNBC.

Ray said she decided to expand into furniture because she was personally frustrated with living in small spaces and not finding furniture that could adapt to multi-purposes. Many of the items in the collection are things she proposed for her own apartment and home.

The businesswoman said that when it comes to creating a new venture, she thinks back to her main motivation: accessibility and value. When she started "30 Minute Meals," she was inspired by the idea that people would wait 30 minutes for takeout so they should be willing to spend the same amount of time preparing a healthier meal.

"Everything grew out from there," Ray said. "But every part of the brand keeps that same promise. It's not the cheapest. It's the best value: dog food or cat food or pot or pan."

Legacy Classic Furniture, a sister company of Craftmaster Furniture, said sales have been positive but did not disclose numbers.

"We had very high expectations for the success of The Rachael Ray Home Collection," Don Essenberg, president and CEO of Legacy Classic Furniture, said via email. "The consumer response has by far exceeded anything we could have imagined. Our retail partners began to sell this collection the minute it hit their floors. We haven't seen this kind of immediate furniture stores sales for a home collection in many, many years."

Updated: A spokesperson for Rachael Ray clarified the her line's employment numbers and sourcing.