A South Carolina small business owner, Donna Brin, credited reality TV show host of “Six Degrees” Mike Rowe for saving her business.
“We began making fabric face coverings branded for his foundation. And he posted [it], our shop and it went wild and we did everything we could to keep up with the demand and it’s one of those just to dream come true having just an incredible amount of activity at our shop at a time where so many small businesses are struggling,” Brin, the founder and CEO of bFive40, told “Fox & Friends” on Friday.
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BFive40, based in Little River, S.C., was making fabric-covered items such as “T-shirts and banners for corporations and events,” ABC 15 reported. Similar to other small businesses, bFIVE40 was halted by the coronavirus pandemic. Brin pivoted to leveraging the pandemic by using her fabric material to make masks.
The story of a “female-owned small business in South Carolina” making masks appealed to Rowe, so he partnered with Brin by arranging that each purchase of a mask would benefit his foundation mikeroweWORKS. MikeroweWORKS gives away $1 million in scholarships for skilled trades and promoting training in such fields to “close the skills gap” in America.
Rowe posted bFive40’s masks for sale on his Facebook page, connecting with his “6 million followers.”
“I’m not sure what I did personally,” Rowe said. “I have 6 million people on a Facebook page and they support my foundation and when this whole mask thing came out I was right in the midst of trying to raise money. Look, I don’t know the real science of masks, I just know I can’t go anywhere without them and I didn’t want to sell them. I didn’t want to do them in China.”
Rowe said that once he posted, suddenly his foundation raised $250,000 by people ordering “tens of thousands of masks.” To keep up with the demand for masks, Brin had to set up an apprenticeship program.
“Donna set up an apprenticeship program in South Carolina for inspiring seamstresses in conjunction with the local school there and all of a sudden we had a story that didn’t have nothing to do with masks but everything to do with people who pivot and figure out a way forward in a very weird time,” Rowe said.
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Brin said “one of the biggest challenges” was finding people who know how to sew, claiming that it’s “such a lost art.” Brin said that the program “came together beautifully” as people were taught by “masters” of the sewing trade to learn a skill.
“We have a lot — we just are so appreciative and grateful to mikeroweWORKS foundation for believing in us and allowing us this incredible opportunity and we are closing the skills gap, too, which is what he does.”