Two weeks ago, the owners of Hudson’s Hill set up an assembly line and began producing a couple of hundred masks a day under a new agreement with Cone Health. That number is now up to about 600 masks a day, according to co-owner Tinker Clayton.
“We added another sewing machine last week,” he said. “It’s very Henry Ford-like.”
Clayton (BS Business Management ’86) says someone from Cone comes down to pick up the boxes as they’re completed. The masks are then sanitized and sealed before going into the hands of hospital staffers who are on the front lines of the Coronavirus pandemic.
“The genesis of it really was our ability to make things and (Hudson’s Hill co-owner) Evan Morrison having a contact at Cone,” said Clayton. “What we did was basically present the idea that we could do this locally and here’s what we can source in terms of materials.”
After receiving specifications from a medical advisory panel, Clayton said they got to work. The masks themselves are made from a breathable barrier fabric out of Burlington.
“That particular material can be washed and sterilized about 75 times, it’s reusable,” said Clayton. “We process it and triple pleat it, roll the edges, hem it up, and add the ear loops.”
The loops are elastic from the Asheboro area. Clayton says the materials involved are all donated. For Hudson’s Hill’s part, he says they’re donating time.
“Our motivation is community-focused. The contract we have with Cone is $0. The rest of it is kind of what we need to do for the heroes on the front line at Cone who are potentially saving someone’s next-door neighbors,” said Clayton. “We had the talent, we had the time, and we have the place to do it.”
Clayton moved Stitch FX, his other business, to downtown Greensboro in 2002. He says he’s made plenty of friends along the way, adding Hudson’s Hill came along as a product of those relationships. Along with Morrison, Clayton co-owns the store with his son William, also a UNC Greensboro alumnus.
“The things that we make are designed to last and aren’t to be thrown away next season. They’re not really as much fashion-forward as they are good solid traditional designs and materials,” he said. “There’s also the USA made flavor to everything in the store.”
Clayton says the Hudson’s Hill mission has always been more than making products and selling them.
“Some of the items that are brought in the store that we bring in from other craftsmen, generally there’s a story behind it, mom and pop, small-batch, limited runs, and the offerings are a bit unique,” he said. “So the purpose is to be both local and small-batch with some philanthropic flavor to whatever we’re doing, finding ways to give back and be more than a little retail store but more of a resource for folks.”
Along with the new assembly line, Hudson’s Hill is preparing home sewing kits for those willing and able to help. That effort is being coordinated through Triad Goodwill. Additionally, the store is helping to raise money through a Tipping Fund for local service workers, the funds from which will be managed by the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro.
“There’s a rainbow at the end of this dark cloud,” said Clayton. “Be safe, be strong, be fearless, and be ready for the blessings to come. That’s been my line to our clients.”