What's up Flexers,
The last two weeks have been a rush here at Flex Ranch as we go from no-clue on how to sew to making dozens of masks a day. This is how we've stayed in business and here's why:
No actual refunds yet from any canceled shows from our Tour. The Arnold Classic has agreed to issue us a refund but has still not sent any checks out because they are waiting to get a loan funded they took out to do so. Just a guess but pretty sure if Arnold himself wanted to do the right thing he would have fronted the coin for this as it would have been nothing for him to do. Instead we've been left having to scramble while they hold over $10,000 of our money.
No grants: every single grant all of you have sent us links for we've applied to. All no's so far.
No government SBA or PPP loans. We have literally had zero response back from our applications. It appears places that are not small business, like Ruth Chris Steakhouse, got the funding and now the money is out. This process has been terrible and NOT helpful at all for us. We get endless comments along the lines of something like: ''the president said you'll be fine, here's the link to apply for a loan'' rather than contributions to our gofundme or other support.
Our gofundme has become stagnant. We understand that in a healthy economy that would have likely been successful very quickly. Everyone is out of work and everyone is trying to make what money they have stretch as far as possible. Not at all upset about this particular failure. I am thankful beyond words at the outpouring of support we've had from you guys. YOU are what is saving Flex Comics!
We've lowered the original goal and reallocated 100% of the remaining amount to putting free masks in the hands of first responders and essential workers.
In a frustrated evening 20 days ago I wanted to do more. You all were helping us stay afloat with your amazing support via the website purchases and I needed to give back as a way to say thank you. I went to my closet and started pulling every shirt under a 2XL (bulking season didn't get canceled - srs) down. Went to Walmart and grabbed a sewing machine. Sat down and started puzzling out how to make a mask out of reclaimed shirts.
I started giving these out everywhere I saw a need, the ladies at the grocery store we shop at, the local post office where all our outgoing mail is processed through, UPS drivers, friends and family. We started getting requests online and so I started sending out what I could. Flexers asked for masks and I knew I had to work quickly to innovate a way to produce enough for everyone.
3 weeks later I'm proud to say we are on a solid track to mask-making. We got our outsourced screen shop, closed due to no work and it being considered non-essential, to reopen as an essential business to help make masks. We were able to use the embroidery machines and the ladies that normally help us fold and bag our shirts were happy to come back in as a Sew Warrior. Meanwhile, I recruited a Sew Warrior Project manager. She's amazing and has a solid network of Sew Warriors that are all happy to chip (paid per mask) in making our reclaimed shirts into masks for donations. These two frontlines combined will help us go from 12-20 masks a day to 50-75!
This has put a lot of people back to work. Because we are all still practicing social distancing and being extra cautious, this is all being coordinated through he mail system. So shipping has become our largest expense at the moment.
For now we are using 100% reclaimed shirts to make masks for first responders and essential workers. Three reasons. First it turns something not being used into something VERY useful. Second it saves us from having to front the cost for new material, which has skyrocketed over the last month. Lastly it deters the greedy - we noticed right away that many people were reaching out to us for a ''Free Baby Broda'' mask - but once we let them know their mask would likely be blank or with minimal graphics almost 80% of them were no longer interested. This filters the people that truly need coverage over those that are looking for a free cool mask. When I run out of shirts to donate to the Mask Initiative I'll adapt.
For every Flexer mask sold we are donating a mask. This helps us all stay working while also meeting a community need.
We have launched our Mask Initiative with a goal to cover 3,000 Real Heroes.
Our new gofundme link: HelpRealHeroes.com
If we don't see any uptick soon from our gofundme, we'll need to increase the price of the masks we are selling to offset the rising costs of producing and shipping the donated masks. Either way we are getting masks in the hands of those that need them the most!
Whatever It Takes.
-Team Flex Comics