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Gastonia business woman expanding store amid pandemic

Wilson said her little project of sewing a couple of face masks for family and friends out of her home in Gastonia quickly turned into something larger.
Credit: Meka Wilson

GASTON COUNTY, N.C. — Like everyone else during the pandemic, Meka Wilson, had a hard time finding face masks to protect herself and others from the Coronavirus. 

"I started making masks for my family," Wilson said. "So once I started making them for family other people wanted me to make more of them." 

Wilson said her little project of sewing a couple of face masks for family and friends out of her home in Gastonia quickly turned into something larger.

"People said 'why don't you start making some t-shirts,'" Wilson recalled. So I started making t-shirts and masks from my backyard." 

Soon, Wilson was taking so many orders she couldn't handle them all in her little backyard. So she bought a storefront on Main Street in Gastonia. 

"And then in September, I didn't have enough room anymore to keep producing stuff in my backyard," Wilson recalled.

Once she was in an actual store, Wilson started making more items including men's t-shirts, cups, cutting blocks and a variety of kitchen utensils. From there she moved onto sublimation printing, which brings her to her newest adventure. 

"It's got me doing a retail store for a boutique," Wilson said. So I'm growing and trying to be different things." 

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Wilson said never in a million years would she imagine her business growing the way it is right now. 

"I didn't think I was going to move as much as I did," Wilson said. "But I'm grateful that I did." 

It's hard to know why exactly her business is booming the way that it is, but Wilson thinks it's a combination of word of mouth and support from her family. 

"I am on Facebook and I show what I can do and a lot of people that I know share the things that I do," Wilson said. "And I get a lot of encouragement from my family and my husband and my kids." 

If it weren't for the pandemic, Wilson said she doesn't think she would have ever started Meka's Custom Designs. 

"Because [before the pandemic] it's like a thing on your mind, 'oh I want to do this but I don't know,'" Wilson said. "But my husband's older and so I wanted to make sure my family was safe." 

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While Wilson loves every aspect of her job she said making memory blankets, cups and masks for her customers is her favorite. The items are for people who have lost a loved one. 

"It's a different feeling when you see something that you created can make somebody so happy," Wilson said. "Especially right now because a lot of people are going through a lot of different things." 

For other people who are considering starting a small business, Wilson said you just have to have faith in yourself and surround yourself around people who can be a good support system for you. 

"I strongly encourage anybody who wants to start a small business to do it," Wilson said 

To reach Meka Wilson you can follow her on Facebook at Meka's Custom Designs, or you can contact her through her website Meka's Custom Designs. Meka's Custom Designs is located at  324 W Main Ave, Gastonia, NC 28052.

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