Madison Stitch runs collaborative fashion effort to benefit first responders
The uncertainty of the pandemic has offered opportunities for small businesses to adapt and expand into unexplored territory while also bringing the community together (socially distanced of course). Such is the case for Madison Stitch, a new company founded by John Pryor, owner of the Crossroads’ Madison Flitch furniture studio.
Through its handcrafted products, Madison Stitch offers employment for sewers across Kansas City, while also providing to local hospitals and organizations through the pandemic.
When the city was shut down in mid-March, Pryor began making face masks as a way to bring additional income to his furniture studio. Within the first two months, he made and sold over 15,000 masks. Unprepared for the high demand, Pryor reached out to local organizations Rightfully Sewn, Catholic Charities, and Refugee Employment Services, connecting him with sewers within their communities. “It was a true community effort to ramp up,” says Pryor. “The number of people from those communities who possessed incredible skills was astonishing.” This included sewers within refugee communities from Myanmar and Afghanistan, who possessed quality workmanship in what they were able to create with their hands.
Initially, the business donated a mask for every mask sold. “At the beginning of the crisis, we were very sensitive to the social need for PPE. We wanted to pay our operating costs while doing something good for the community,” says Pryor. When large mask manufacturers caught up with demand and there was no longer a shortage, Madison Stitch transitioned to donating a percentage of masks and sales to organizations in need. Pryor says that they are looking to shift donations to women’s shelters because women make up a large part of their staff. However, the decision of where donations go is ultimately up to the heart of the business—its employees.
Pryor began exploring the potential of creating handcrafted bags in May. Madison Stitch launched its first collection for pre-order in mid-July and the company officially opened for business on October 3rd, with the retail storefront adjoining the workshop space. He hopes Madison Stitch will become the leading artisanal bag company in Kansas City, “using our local materials and local maker community to create something that celebrates the city and what it offers to the world.”
Pryor is grateful for the experiences that made Madison Stitch possible. “I’m thankful we connected to such diverse, beautiful people, with such engaging stories, and thankful the local KC community continues to support us. We’ve managed to maintain unity and good humor, despite the incredible diversity of our team—our backgrounds should have led to conflict (at least according to our general politics), but that hasn’t been our experience thus far.”
Madison Stitch offers bags, face masks, and accessories such as aprons, scrunchies, hair scarves, and tea towels. They also sell Furoshiki, square wrapping cloths that were traditionally used in Japan to carry things.
Shop products online or in-store at 507 E 16th St in KCMO. Hours are noon-5 pm Monday through Friday and Saturday, noon-4 pm. Though drop-ins are welcome, the business encourages booking a personal shopping appointment.