Alright, everyone, we’re back!

Welcome to the second edition of the “˜Spotlight on’ series, where we find local initiatives that are making a difference and give them the recognition, the applause, they deserve.

We’re all sick of focusing on the darkness, on the uncertainty and the stress and the confusion, so we invite you to turn off the news. Look away from your apps. And instead, shift your focus to the good guys.

Whether they’re fundraising or boosting morale, volunteering or working on the frontlines, these are the heroes and the campaigns — local and far away — that deserve our attention. So, what do you say you join us in giving it to them?

It might just make you feel a whole lot better.

Drumroll for… Support St. Chuck & The Lou!

View this post on Instagram

5 days ago. Monday. I was the last one at the shop finishing up some office work. I get so much done when it’s quiet. No interuptions. It’s like 5x normal speed. So there I was in a zone and the phone starts ringing. Made me jump. Normally it wouldn’t, but the phone doesn’t ring much anymore. Startled, I look down at the caller ID and it’s @tinylittlemonster. The ringing fades out – I wonder why they’re calling. Tiny is a shop not far from ours. But the thing is we’ve never met before. Ever. As I reach to pick up, the ringing gets louder – I bring the receiver closer and say “Hello, Shirt Kong,” and a voice says, “Hey, it’s Sloan from Tiny.” . We talk about our shops. We share stories. We talk about the times – the quarantine and how we’re both hanging in there. Then she starts telling me about a movement she started called “Here For Good.” It’s a movement that helps support small businesses in our city by setting up online stores where people can buy a shirt and 100% of the proceeds go directly to that business. She went on and on…and on, I mean she’s really pumped about it. I couldn’t tell her no. . Sloan’s tagline is “We’re in this together” and she’s right. Maybe this crisis helps bring this country together. It did for me and Sloan. . Our store is now live We are starting with over 20 and adding more daily Our goal is to raise $10,000 Link is in our profile Thanks for your support! . Time for pizza, more beer and more #tigerking . #shirtkong #screenprinting #screenprintingshop #screenprintinglife #customtshirts #ink #tshirts #stl #printshop #graphicdesign #graphicartist #printlife #embroidery #makeitcount #bandmerch #entrepreneurlife #mrprint

A post shared by Shirt Kong ® (@shirtkong) on

Shirt Kong providing a lesson in excellent social media outreach and networking!
InkSoft Customer Shirt Kong
Whoa. Shirt Kong with an epic 11.4k Instagram followers!

It started with a phone call.

A phone call from what should be the competition.

It was after hours, and Andy Rudman, the owner of screen printing and embroidery company Shirt Kong, was finishing up some work. It was quiet — it had been quiet for more than a few days now, given the virus — and the telephone ring caught him by surprise.

“Hello, Shirt Kong.”

It was another decorated apparel business on the line. A decorated apparel business not too far from the St. Peters, Missouri property Shirt Kong operated out of.

Rudman was confused — he’d never come into contact with this business before. But then he started listening.

There was an initiative. A way for screen printers to help local community businesses that had to slow or shut down, and a way to keep themselves running at the same time.

It was a movement, and would Shirt Kong be interested in joining?

All on board

The tagline for the movement, called Here for Good, is “We’re in this together.”

For Rudman, who isn’t just the leader of Shirt Kong but also a proud member of the greater St. Louis community, that tagline made sense.

It beckoned him to take action — not just for the sake of himself and his staff, but for the sake of every local business that had been trudging through the uncertainty along with him.

So, he and his team got working.

The basics, and then some

With the help of InkSoft’s technology, Shirt Kong was able to design shirts for 20 local businesses — and get them up into a custom online store — quickly.

The layout was simple: at the top of the page, “Support St. Chuck & The Lou” is printed boldly, a large arch connecting nine small buildings — to represent local businesses — underneath.

The point? That each business — each member of the community — is connected, even when they’re physically apart.

“Every shirt sold means $10 goes to a local St. Louis area small business.”

Under the store’s logo, that’s the first message we see. And, simple and straight to the point, it encapsulates the heart behind the initiative.

There are no fancy ribbons or breakthrough marketing strategies. There are just good, hard-working people who, in the face of crisis, are doing their best to help each other out.

Visitors to the virtual store are able to, with just a few scrolls and clicks, make a purchase that makes a difference.

With $10 from each t-shirt going to the local business and the rest going to Shirt Kong — another local business — it’s a win-win investment.

You get an awesome t-shirt to remember the time the whole community banded together, and two local businesses get to keep doing what they love doing (and feel wholly supported while doing it).

And, because the Stores feature already has a Fundraising component embedded in its capabilities, the transaction logistics are streamlined.  There’s no messiness, no chaos, and no confusion from the operations side, and that — especially now — is something we can all appreciate.

The lightness spreads

The virtual store started with 20 t-shirts, each representing a different local business. Today, there’s 28 — and Shirt Kong’s still welcoming more.

From a bike shop to a barbershop, a cafe to a company that sells cake pops, the t-shirts showcase the spirit of St. Louis — the versatility, the passion — while also showcasing just how far-reaching the effects of this pandemic really are.

But, like Rudman and Shirt Kong, these businesses weren’t willing to just sit back and do nothing. They wanted to take control, to show their customers that they’re not scared. That, through teamwork, the community will prevail.

So, they went with humor.

The barber shop’s t-shirt reads, “Let’s cut this short.”

A sports bar’s t-shirt quips, “Not that kind of Corona.”

And a shop that specializes in bone broth? “Support Community, Support Immunity.”

The bottom line

With over $1,000 already raised, and each of the local businesses promoting the store to their own base of customers, the potential for this fundraising initiative is huge.

And that comes down to the ties each person, young or old, new or lived in the area since birth, has to the community.

In a post shared to Shirt Kong’s 11.5k Instagram followers, Rudman shares the story behind the store. He says, “Maybe this crisis helps bring this country together.”

At InkSoft, that’s the way we choose to look at it. In the face of adversity, with all of us trying to make sense of an invisible, borderless enemy, the only thing that we can do is band together.

Use our own skill-sets, our own capabilities, to do what we can for each other.

And, take the time to stop and recognize the people and projects, like this Support St. Chuck & The Lou initiative, that are making a difference.

Thanks for joining us for this “˜Spotlight on’ piece — and we hope to see you next time. We’re sure there are a whole lot more good folks doing great things, and we can’t wait to give them the attention they deserve.

Like always, if there’s anything InkSoft can do to help you and your team out through these strange times, we’d be glad to. Whether you have an idea for your own initiative, or you’re just looking for more info about our technology, we’re always happy to chat.

You can reach us at 800-410-3048.

We’re here for you. And we believe, at our core, that we all do better when we’re working together.

Stay safe,

The InkSoft team

P.s. Check out the first “˜Spotlight On’ blog here.