B-Unlimited of Fayetteville is best known as the apparel company that makes college-themed T-shirts; CEO Ben Clark said B-Unlimited reached $10 million in sales in 2019.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shut most of the company’s T-shirt operations down, so Clark switched production to masks. He said he had to lay off approximately 25 employees but the switch to cloth mask production has allowed B-Unlimited to maintain approximately 50% of its pre-pandemic business.
“We really aren’t making T-shirts right now,” Clark said. “All the masks we are doing until [students] get back are for companies.”
In typical B-Unlimited style — the company was an Arkansas Business of the Year finalist in 2017 and 2020 — the cloth masks can be plain or printed with a company’s logo or motto, ranging in price from $2.25 to $5 per mask, depending on the design and number of plys. Clark said he consulted with medical professionals and followed CDC recommendations to make the cloth masks as protective as possible.
“They are cloth masks just to help [spread] less particles that come out of your mouth,” Clark said. “It is comfortable and 100% cotton. It makes it more accessible and when you have something that feels good you’re usually going to keep it on your face.”
Clark said he hopes the T-shirt business kicks back up when university classes resume in the fall.
“We are doing enough business to keep afloat,” Clark said. “You don’t make large profits on masks, that is for sure, but it is helping keep the lights on. We have already posted that we are looking to hire back in the fall.”