RCK and Smalltown Famous Sell Thousands of Masks
When the COVID-19 pandemic started making its way across the state, some GROW Nebraska members saw sales of regular products and services decline.
But, as typical of GROW Nebraska members, they found creative ways to pivot their businesses and make lemonade out of lemons – or masks out of scraps.
Helping Area Manufacturers
Connie and Roger Kirkpatrick, owners of RCK Creations and More Etching and Alterations in Alda, create and sell personalized etched and laser-engraved gifts that are popular as wedding gifts. Connie is an expert seamstress who normally is busy sewing and altering prom, wedding and other special-occasion dresses.
With COVID-19, Connie’s business came to an abrupt halt as proms and weddings were postponed or canceled.
So, she decided to make some fun face masks for her grandchildren. When area employers started asking for masks for their employees, Connie’s name was mentioned. She worked with the supervisor of Hornady Manufacturing to create a mask style to fit the company’s employees, which resulted in an order of more than 300 masks. Then, she was asked to make masks for the Case IH plant in Grand Island, which resulted in a large order of 1,400 masks. Other businesses placed smaller orders, and Facebook ads they created resulted in several hundred mask sales in their store.
Connie has now sewed more than 3,000 masks, crafted of two layers of cotton with flannel on the inside. At first, they sold the masks for $2 when they were made from scraps from Connie’s sewing projects. Now, the price is $3 to cover the cost of materials and elastic.
“We have tried to keep the price low for two reasons,” Roger said. “One, it has increased awareness of RCK, and we just want enough income to keep our shop open. Then, it becomes our donation to the community.”
Creating Fun, Stylish Masks
It can be uncomfortable and somewhat scary to wear a mask into grocery stores, doctors’ offices and hair appointments.
But, Jacque Cranson, owner of Small Town Famous in Hastings, is trying to add a little humor into the situation.
Cranson made clever masks with phrases such as “Can’t Touch This,” “Resting Mask Face,” “Not Today Rona” and “Namaste Safe.”
“We used to sell headbands that had funny sayings on them, so as soon as we got caught up on mask orders for the day early on, we made these, and they are popular!” Cranson said.
She has sold the masks from her store and from the GROW Nebraska website to customers all over the country.
Cranson and her team made and sold about 600 masks during the pandemic as of mid-May. In addition to the masks with phrases, she also sells solid-colored masks in toddler and adult sizes. They created the masks from defective t-shirts at the shop.
“They are upcycled, which makes us happy to get another use before they hit the landfill,” Cranson said.
Normally during this time of year, Cranson would be busy printing t-shirts for schools, sports teams and events.
“With sports and schools being shut down, we had to find a way to make up lost revenue, and this helped us hire back our employees,” she said.
GROW Nebraska® Foundation is a statewide non-profit training and marketing organization. Serving over 400 Nebraska small businesses, the organization provides marketing opportunities, education, and training to launch and connect Nebraska businesses to the global marketplace. GROW Nebraska’s educational programs receive federal and state funding, along with generous support from foundations and individual donors.