Local small business staying afloat producing unique masks for elderly, children

From making baby blankets to afford sending her children to college, to producing masks in the middle of a pandemic, Julie Grice, owner of Classic Stitch, continues to persevere.

In 1993, Grice started her sewing business out of her home, and in 2011, opened a location in downtown Miamisburg with her husband, Steve Grice.

Classic Stitch offers a variety of items, from corporate apparel and marketing gifts, to local spirit wear and personalized items.

Grice’s store, which only stopped operation for a week during the statewide shutdown, is now staying afloat with mask sales.

However, Grice still says business has slowed way down, running 30% under where they normally do.

“We got the (Paycheck Protection Program) loan and that kept us alive for a while,” Grice said. “I’m just hoping (business) bounces back.”

Grice said it took a couple weeks to design their masks and designed them with kids, the elderly and those who wear glasses in mind.

“I wear glasses and my mom wears hearing aids, so I wanted them (to lay) around the neck,” Grice said.

The masks tighten around the back of the head, instead of being supported by the ears as traditional masks do.

As for children’s masks, Grice said a children’s clothing law prohibits strings around a child’s neck.

“We put a breakaway clip that sits behind their neck, so if they’re playing at recess or if it gets caught on something, it just breaks away,” Grice said.

Grice also said the breakaway clips are on the elderly’s masks for safety purposes.

Classic Stitch has made more than 2,000 masks and has been shipping them all over the country.

According to a report by Market Study Report, in 2020, the face mask industry size was recorded at 458 million, and the market is anticipated to grow to 21.2 billion by 2026.

“The masks are what’s keeping us going,” Grice said.

Katie Frank, with the city of Miamisburg, said Classic Stitch has been an integral part of the downtown community.

“They have seen lots of ups and downs throughout the years and they have just remained steady and constant,” Frank said.

Grice said she loves what she does, and coined the phrase for the store, “Every stitch tells a story.”

“It’s not just a T-shirt,” Grice said. “It’s a call of action. It’s not just a varsity coat, it’s the kid’s story.”

Grice said her favorite part about what she does is celebrating people’s life events and hearing their stories.

“That gets us out of the bed in the morning,” Grice said. “(We) wonder, ‘what’s the story going to be today?’”

About the Author