Janiya Winchester Gaston Gazette
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) In March of 2019, Meka Wilson started working out of her backyard selling masks to family and friends. A year later, that mask making has turned into a full-time custom design business.
From making masks in her backyard to building a boutique on Main Avenue, Meka Wilson has turned her new-found quarantine passion into a custom designs business.
The 43-year-old Gaston County native was working for FedEx when the pandemic began.
Wilson heard the cries of her family and friends at home in need of masks and decided to learn how to sew to help.
"My husband is older so I didn't want to bring COVID home so I just started working out of my backyard selling masks to family and friends in March of 2019," Wilson said. "I moved to the place I'm at on Main Avenue in September working on shirts, aprons and cutting boards."
Little did she know, her quarantine hobby would soon become something more.
Experimenting with sublimation printing, which transfers designs onto materials through the use of ink and heat, gave her the idea of making custom designs for the community.
Entrepreneurship 101 Wilson says that recently turning 40 has been inspiring her to take a direction toward embracing changes in her work-life such as pursuing entrepreneurship.
"It was a struggle at first so it was a learning experience," Wilson said. "When you're doing something that you really enjoy then you will keep going and try different things."
Wilson says she genuinely loves the feeling when she sees the smiles that she brings to her customers' faces when they pickup their custom designs.
"I love being able to do nice, heartfelt designs for people like memory blankets for lost ones or faces on items," Wilson said.
Sharing her business and work online can be challenging for the new business owner, but she said making people happy makes the task worth the effort.
"My biggest drive comes from my husband who has taken care of me for many years," Wilson said. "When I see my family happy with something that I do and it's making them happy then I'll do it until I fall over."
Running a new business requires constantly trying to figure out what to do, which can't be done without patience, Wilson says.
Currently, Wilson works on adding a new venture to her business by building a boutique in the front section of her store.
"Putting yourself out there to build clientele as a new business owner when nobody really knows you can be really hard too," Wilson said.
Its a "special opportunity" for Wilson to use her passion for creativity and see the joy on the faces of her customers during a time when we only see masks.
"In order for us to come together as a community, we have to love each other and then it wouldn't be so hard," Wilson says. "We have all of these terrible moments going on right now but I have all kinds of races coming to me and they love me and don't treat me any different."
Wilson prides herself in being someone who loves people "no matter who you are."
Wilson believes that to succeed as an entrepreneur that one must have courage.
"Every day is not going to be a good day," Wilson said. "You will have good and bad days, but as long as you believe in yourself then you can make it happen."
Custom design requests can be made online at mekascustomdesigns.com or in-store at 324 W. Main Ave. Meka Wilson can also be reached on social media platforms @Meka'sCustomDesigns.
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