Thankful For: 2020
On a dreary March morning, Pam came into work with a pattern for a face mask.
It seemed excessive at the time.
N95 masks were being priced gouged & in short supply, so how could we help?
Eventually, everyone who knew how to sew at InRugCo was producing face masks.
I hadn't sewn all day - 8 hours straight - since I was a teenager. It comes back though, like riding a bike. Tucking the elastic straps into the corners of the fabric, that is tricky, but with repetition, it becomes easier.
Our first 500 face masks were donated to first responders. Local Mishawaka resident Dale Nagel purchased hundreds to donate. We sent one batch of donations into the heart of New York City. ER nurses reached out to us on Facebook. They needed a mask with better fit by the nose so their glasses wouldn't fog up. We named our Deluxe Posable Mask after one such ER nurse, the Teresita Mask.
Phone calls, text messages, Facebook messages, the demand was insatiable.
Our website wasn't ready yet, so we operated with an Excel spreadsheet. It was color coded cacophony of orders.
Sold black fabric only, Disney fabric with pink lining, bigger elastic straps, shorter elastic straps, etc.
It was surreal.
We closed our brick & mortar. I remember taping up the closed sign I had typed. I had forgotten to lock the front door and a customer came in. She was unaware of the sign I had just taped up.
I turned the lights back on, turned up the music, and let her shop. She bought a birthday gift for a friend. I gift wrapped it for her. I remember thinking, what if this was the last person to ever shop at InRugCo?
The spreadsheet was a mess, finally I said to Lindsay out of desperation, why don't we put these face masks online for purchase?
We had a 3 month plan for our website, but when the pandemic hit, that became a 3 week plan. We needed to make online shopping easier & offer a wide inventory. The face masks forced us to expedite the development of our website.
Our original goal with the website was to only offer products that we handmade, but when the brick & mortar closed, we knew we needed to go all in.
I remember the first product I uploaded online that wasn't a rug, apron, or face mask -- It was soap.
This was during a time when you could barely find toilet paper, paper towels, or hand soap. So I uploaded Yucca Root Soap, Sunflower Soap, & other handmade soaps from A Wild Soap Bar.
There were talks of a food shortage, so after soap, I uploaded Hudson Valley Seeds. If you can't buy food, here are seeds so you can grow it. Again, this felt unbelievable.
When we finally could reopen our brick & mortar, the response was electric! The community missed us & we missed them. More than ever it seemed, people put an emphasis on shopping with us, a small local business.
They brought their friends & family. We rekindled our relationships with our customers, it was fantastic to have that back.
As 2020 progressed, when we began to develop new products, we didn't have to look far for inspiration. Our customers & community supported us the entire pandemic, so now it was time to highlight them.
One of the few things I was able to do in late Spring was go for a run with my dog Miska at the Mishawaka Riverwalk. It was an outside activity & with few people on the path, it felt relatively safe.
I looked at the moody Saint Joseph River, the towering trees, & listened to the birds. It was a small sliver of calm during a tense time.
We realized Mishawaka & Michiana were underrepresented within our store. Thus, we turned our attention towards Mishawaka & Michiana, inspired by the support of our community & the nature in our area.
In collaboration with Deneen Pottery, we created the Mishawaka Mug, highlighting the Iconic Suspension Bridge in Beutter Park.
Then my wife & I designed the Saint Joseph River tee adding the tagline 206 Miles to Lake Michigan.
Lindsay's idea of Keep Indiana Corny & Support Local Farmers was brought to life.
Where we live is worth celebrating. That is reflected in the products we design.
When Deneen Pottery set out to design the first Indiana Dunes National Park Mug, they consulted us to make sure they captured the essence of one of Indiana's greatest treasures.
Our goal has always been to be a unique & fascinating place to shop. We want to create & sell products that inspire people to be happy.
If you ask me or my family what we are thankful for, we are thankful for the community right here in Mishawaka & Michiana. Our customers are incredible! The support we receive on a daily basis is why we work so hard.
Our customers and nature spaces will continue to inspire us.
Thank you to all who shop with us. Your support is tremendous.
Stay tuned for 2021, we have more on the horizon.
Clark & the InRugCo Family