Like most small businesses, our business was at a stand-still when all non-essential businesses, sports and activities were shut down. This is usually one of our busiest times as we produce custom hair bows and glitter/rhinestone apparel for all the cheerleaders and dancers attending their competitions as well as end of year gifts for many high school and all star cheer and dance programs. We would normally also be designing new bows for new teams for the upcoming season during this time. Once the state of PA was shut down, any orders we normally had were either cancelled or on hold and we were struggling to pay the bills.
My 23 year old daughter Brooke, who designed this website for Grand Champ Bows & Apparel, thought it would be a good idea to use some of the supplies we already had on hand to make the cheer bows and scrunchies and make face masks at a reasonable price which would help get masks to people who need them as well as help out our struggling small business. We have 2 sewing machines for our business and decided we could both sew masks while strictly social distancing. We made a couple samples and started up an Etsy store to get our product out there. Within less than 24 hours, we had orders for 100 masks.
Brooke was contacted by the Pittsburgh Post Gazette and our new Etsy shop was featured in this article. Once that article was published, we were swamped with orders! We bought a 3rd sewing machine and quickly taught my 19 year old daughter, Sydney, how to sew one step in the process. While the 3 of us are sewing and assembling the masks, my husband, Paul, is running the store, answering questions, packing the masks up and making multiple trips to drop them off at the post office. (Keep in mind that Brooke and Paul both have full-time jobs, and Sydney is still finishing up her Sophmore year of college online so none of them are available to help during the time they are working or in class.)
Less than 2 weeks later, we were again featured in another article, which lists all the places where masks can be ordered locally, of course in alphabetical order so that Audino Masks is at the top of the list!
Since this last article in the paper, we have been overwhelmed with orders. While we hate to turn away any business, we do not want to raise the prices of the masks and we do not want people to have to wait too long to get their masks. We never expected to have such traffic to our store and for that we are very grateful. Since the store has been such a success, we have donated several masks to Sunnyview Senior Center in Butler, PA as well as Children & Youth Services in Amstrong County and we have other donations planned as well.
We currently have a 5-day turn around and we have decided to limit the time we have our Etsy store open each day until we can get caught up a bit. Until that time, we will open our store each day at 9 am EST and then close it once we reach the number of masks we feel our family can complete in a day. We are working to get caught up so we can reduce our turnaround time and once we do, we can keep the store open longer.
This may sound like an inconvenience, but we don't want anyone disappointed that we made them wait too long for their mask. Under better circumstances, we could hire more workers and make masks faster, but we have been stricly social distancing to keep our work area virus free. I hope you understand.
We have received many 5-star reviews on Etsy about our masks, so if you would still like to order and don't mind waiting a few days, please visit our store Audino Masks. We are working hard to reduce the wait time and get masks to as many people as we can. Thank you for supporting our local small business. Stay Safe Everyone! Our thoughts and prayers are with anyone who has been affected by this virus.