Innovation Cluster

Local Entrepreneur Supplies Over 160,000 Buttons For Face Masks Throughout Canada During Covid-19

Kawartha Lakes entrepreneur Dan Kitchen wanted to support the community when Covid-19 hit across Canada. With the pandemic causing a slow down on his startup Make Stuff Move, Kitchen decided to help by using his laser engraver to make over 160,000 buttons since April for the community out of his garage. All buttons were donated to help make masks more comfortable during the pandemic.

“I saw some local people were searching for buttons, so I initially offered to make and donate a few so that people sewing buttons on scrub caps, ear savers and headbands for front line workers could keep going,” says Kitchen.

Then, he teamed up with Lindsay’s Rustically Signed to supply a few thousand buttons for sewing kits to people in Kawartha Lakes who were eager to put their sewing machines to work. The next day, Kitchen was overwhelmed with message requests for buttons and not just locally, with requests for over 40,000 buttons, then a request for 60,000 by the Canada Sews Facebook Group, and the list goes on.

“Fast forward to June, over 160,000 buttons have been produced and donated out of my garage!”

With other shops helping across the country, including Edmonton, Ottawa, Aurora, Uxbridge, Lindsay and Ajax, over 250,000 buttons have been produced and donated so far.

“There are people with lasers making buttons, suppliers donating material, and most importantly people making items to sew the buttons onto,” says Kitchen. “This has been one of the most impressive coming together of people I have experienced!”

Kitchen is the founder of Make Stuff Move, a company he started to supply kits to schools that promote STEAM education. Called Servo Socks, which are patent pending, these kits give the opportunity for students and teachers to comfortably work with servo motors to make stuff move using standard tools, hardware and materials. Cutting, drilling, screwing, carving, sanding, shaping, painting and glueing are all everyday skills students can learn with the kit while having fun. The kits fit well into classrooms, makerspaces and at home. Most kits do not require a computer so they can be used in many places without being “plugged in”.

With schools shut down and time available, Kitchen was determined to continue helping the community in another way.

“The initiative Dan took to help frontline workers and other community members locally and across the country shows how entrepreneurs are able to pivot to step up and create change when it’s needed,” says Michael Skinner, CEO of the Innovation Cluster.

To learn more about this initiative and all involved, visit: https://makestuffmove.com/buttons/


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