WESTERLY – Due to business restrictions being enforced to stop the spread of COVID-19, Kevin Adams was forced to make the difficult decision of laying off workers for the first time since opening J. Mack Studios over 18 years ago .
Rather than simply closing down entirely, Adams kept the services of graphic artist Ken Lowell and started a fundraiser to keep the store running, identify health care workers who are on the front lines of the virus response, and raise funds to help keep the store running Help fight the pandemic.
“It was a way to stay active and support those who are on the front lines in this fight,” said Adams. “It certainly won’t make up for the lost business, but it’s a way for us to get some work while helping people through the Westerly Hospital Foundation’s COVID-19 fund.”
J. Mack Studios, named after the members of the Adams family (Jack, Mary, Annette, Clare, Kevin), produces thank you t-shirts for those in the healthcare sector. By Monday, his company had already received more than 80 orders. The company usually specializes in trade orders rather than retail, but has changed during these uncertain times, Adams said.
They bear the Superman emblem, with the “S” being replaced by a red cross. T-shirts are $ 25 each, and $ 5 from each purchase is donated to the Westerly Hospital Foundation’s COVID-19 Fund. There’s also a $ 35 option for those who would prefer a sweatshirt.
The concept was developed by Adams last week and worked with Lowell Thursday and Friday to create the design before launching a website for those looking to shop for a shirt. After having an idea, he was put in touch with Nicholas Stahl, Executive Director of the Westerly Hospital Foundation, and a partnership was established.
Stahl said the effort is vital evidence of the support given to hospital workers, some of whom have worked virtually non-stop since the novel coronavirus disease was declared a national health emergency on March 13. He said if not for helping companies like J. Mack Studios – he said the foundation received donations almost daily on Monday – the hospital could not provide the services it is currently providing.
“For those in the healthcare sector, these resources are so important,” said Stahl. “You worked around the clock and did a great job in these strange and unusual circumstances that we are currently facing.”
The funds raised will provide a range of support services for workers, Stahl said. For example, childcare was restricted a few weeks ago, and the money is providing alternative options for employees to provide care that respects the intent of social distancing. In addition, he said the money will be used for things like groceries for those who work longer shifts, or could be used to meet unforeseen needs.
Over the weekend, efforts expanded to include a free handcrafted face mask. The masks are made by seamstress Kaela Hurd, who lives in the west and owns Kaelas Sewing on Railroad Avenue. It is designed to help protect those in the community who may have difficulty finding masks.
“When (Kevin) explained what he was doing it was such a great idea that I felt I had to do something to make a difference,” said Hurd, who also runs her business as a result of the COVID-19 crisis lock. “I’m the only employee and my company is in a strange place where it’s not clear whether to shut down or not. So I decided to shift gears and started making the face masks with materials that I already have in my inventory. I’ve been working almost continuously since then. “
The use of only previously owned materials has helped keep Hurd away from shopping and serves to prevent the virus from spreading. She said she would continue to make masks as long as she had the materials in stock.
Hurd’s business doesn’t make any money with the company – she’s looking for $ 3 to $ 5 donations on masks but won’t turn anybody down – and she said she’s continuing to do the job because “it’s the right thing.” “”
Adams said he has no official goal in what he hopes to increase, but he is overwhelmed with the support he has received for the project so far. He said as long as there were restrictions and there was a need, he intended to keep producing the shirts.
“Right now we are limping like so many companies,” he said. “If we can hobble for a few months and help the frontline workers, we will survive.”
To order a shirt, visit the J. Mack Studios Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/JMackStudios/ or order directly from the studio’s website at https: // j-mack-studios- llc.myshopify.com/ collections / front page.