By Josh Brown
Miami Valley Today
TROY — Before her sophomore track and field season was set to begin at Wright State University, Christine Moser faced a tough decision: give up her Etsy shop, or stop pole vaulting.
The 2018 Troy High School graduate then got her answer — in the form of the opportunity to help people.
Over the past few weeks, Moser — a state placer in the pole vault during her time as a Trojan — has sewn and sold almost 900 cloth face masks on her Etsy store, WrinkleFrinkle, putting her craft skills to use and helping provide protection for people across the country during the COVID-19 global pandemic.
“Lots and lots of people. As of (Thursday), I have made and found homes for 875 masks,” Moser said. “It’s been kind of crazy. I was one of the first couple hundred people on Etsy to have cloth masks. I’m selling mine for $4 each, though — I’ve seen them for up to $26 on there. I offer a good product that’s reasonably priced.
“It’s been really nice to know that I’m helping people, and it means a lot to me when they leave reviews. Some of them have said that they don’t own a sewing machine, or they can’t sew, or buying a mask isn’t in their budget. And my masks arrive quick, too. The appreciation I get back from my Etsy customers and knowing I’m helping people, to get that feedback, it’s just really nice.”
It’s been a whirlwind for Moser, who theoretically should be competing in her sophomore season vaulting for the Raiders. But the NCAA found out that she had a page on Etsy — a website that focuses on independent, homemade arts and crafts — and considered that a violation of its rules.
“It was kind of a mess,” Moser said. “I’ve had my Etsy shop since before I came to Wright State, and this spring, right before our first meet, I was told I was ineligible. They said I was using my name and likeness as a college athlete to sell things. It was a whole big thing probably two weeks before our first meet.
“To be reinstated, I would have had to pay back all of the profit I’ve ever made since I started the page to charity, and I wouldn’t have been able to run the shop anymore after being reinstated.”
Moser had already been wrestling with what to do with her future, though.
“I was thinking about changing my major from biomedical engineering to entrepreneurship,” she said. “I’d been reasonably successful with my Etsy shop already. Pole vaulting is fun, but it was already the direction I was going.”
And then the coronavirus arrived.
Classes went online, the spring season was canceled and Ohio’s citizens were ordered to stay at home to slow the spread of the virus. In addition, personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages hit the nation’s hospitals — and Moser got a request.
“My brother Tom’s girlfriend is a nurse for an eye doctor in Wisconsin, and he had been following how everything was going for a while,” Moser said. “Hospitals were taking her masks since her office was at lower risk than the bigger hospitals, and they were going through the process of saying that her office could wear homemade masks. He asked me to make some for her and send them to them, so I sent them to her, and the next day she was officially allowed to wear them. So my brother really started it all.
“I made some more and posted them on my Instagram craft page (@WrinkleFrinkle), and it just blew up.”
Moser began spending hours each day producing and posting more masks, and they’d sell practically instantly — a trend that hasn’t really stopped yet.
“In the beginning, I could put 25 masks out and sell them all in two minutes,” she said. “Now it’s taking a little longer. (Thursday), I took 21 packages to the post office. I’ve made 70 masks in the past two days and sold all but four of them. I’ll put them on our porch for pickup if our customers are local, and I’ve sent them through Etsy to 34 different states now. The demand has been ridiculous.”
And she hasn’t been alone, either.
“My mom, Mary Lou Moser, has worked by my side just as many hours as I have, too, helping me cut and iron the fabric so I can keep continually sewing,” Moser said. “It’s been about a month and a half of making these, and without her, I wouldn’t have been nearly as productive.
“I’ve been getting donations of materials, too. Whenever I’m out of material — like elastic, which can be hard to get — I’ll put it on Instagram that I’ll trade for some, and I’ve gotten a bunch of thread and fabric that way. It’s great to see people help in so many different ways.”
In the end, the chance to use her skills to help people during a dark time in the world was one Moser couldn’t pass up.
“After I’d made about 300 masks, my brother said that, statistically speaking, I’d probably saved at least two people from dying. And that was really rewarding to think about,” Moser said. “Making the masks has been really fun, too, and I really enjoy it. Plus it’s kept me busy. I loved pole vaulting, too, and it was a tough decision. But I think I made the right one.”
Contact Josh Brown at [email protected].
©2020 Miami Valley Today, all rights reserved.