Stitch98, a full-service embroidering and screen printing shop, is no stranger to “fun.” Established in 2007 in Mooresville, North Carolina, the shop is located in the heart of the motorsport industry. Many of their clients are top-level professional teams, which means Stitch98 is used to creating fun-inspired logos and products that generate excitement (such as victory lane hats!).
When COVID-19 first struck, many small businesses and the communities around them were hit pretty hard. Stitch98 decided to do something about it, while also bringing some levity to the moment.
As a team, they created and sold funny shirts and logos that brought humor and lightness to a pretty dark moment. For every shirt sold they donated two dollars to the First Responders Children’s Foundation COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund.
CEO and Owner, Marci Athey, knew it was the right thing to do. “The apparel business is very near and dear to my heart and always will be,” she says. “I’ve been doing this since I was 19 years-old; this is all I know.”
The inspiration for the fun tee fundraiser came out of the desire to help make donations to a local charity, while bringing some orders in to help ensure they could keep all their staff. “What better way than to sell some fun shirts!”
When it came to designing the shirts—such as ones that say Corona Hair, Don’t Care and I was socially distant before it was cool—it was a team effort. Athey explains, “All of my staff came up with different ideas. We just ran with what we thought would be the most popular ones.”
More than anything, the situation has reminded Athey of how incredibly helpful and loyal her community is. “The support from our clients has been amazing,” she says. Though sales were a little slow at first, it began to turn around as soon as it could. “We have so many loyal customers from over the years. As soon as they were able to start spending, they did. They didn’t want to see us hurting, so they did everything they could to keep as many orders coming in as possible.”
When asked why business is personal for Stitch98, Athey explains that, “Eighty percent of my customers know my personal cell number and I have an outside relationship with them. As a small business owner, it’s always personal.”
The decorative apparel industry is the heart of everything that Marci Athey does. Whether it’s helping design logos for race car drivers or creating fun shirts that bring humor to their community and donations to a local charity, Stitch98 knows hope is always around the next corner.