Ypsilanti recording studio Grove Studios recently closed out its Patronicity fundraising campaign with a little boost from a Quarantine Cut Challenge that encouraged people to share photos of their quarantine hairstyles.
Ypsilanti resident and Grove Studios supporter Daniel Wall got the ball rolling when he participated in a mullet contest, organized by Fenton men's wear store Bridge Street Exchange, and vowed to donate the $500 prize to Grove's fundraising campaign. When someone else won the mullet contest, Wall decided he'd make a donation anyway, while also bringing more public attention to Grove Studios' needs.
Wall donated $250 to the campaign out of his own pocket and promised to donate another $250 if 50 people sent in a picture of their hair and shared it to their social networks.
"It sounded amazing. Why wouldn't we support that?" says Grove Studios co-founder and CEO Rick Coughlin.
Due in part to the boost from the Quarantine Cut Challenge, on the morning of July 16 Grove Studios surpassed its fundraising goal of $5,000, with a final total of $5,590 from a total of 61 donors. Coughlin says the COVID-19 pandemic was extra hard on the studio because it is still a fairly new business, in its third year.
"We were shut down for over three months, and that means we had zero revenue," Coughlin says.
Opening with safety protocols in place added an extra financial burden. The studio had to purchase hand sanitizer, paper towels, cleaners, and masks. Coughlin also plans to install acrylic barriers to keep equipment clean and bring in a cleaning crew between each session.
"I was a first-time business owner in the middle of a pandemic. This has been one of the biggest challenges of my life," he says.
As it bounces back from being shut down during the state's stay-home order, the studio has successfully launched a new podcast studio.
"I'm super excited about it. Right before the pandemic hit, we were putting the finishing touches on it. It will be open 24/7, self-service," Coughlin says. "It makes a low learning curve for someone to get in and make a podcast inexpensively. We did one podcast to test it out and then got shut down [due to the pandemic]."
To bring attention to the project and encourage area residents to come see what Grove Studios has to offer, the podcast studio is free through the end of July. Sessions may be booked via the Grove Studios website.
Though the fundraising campaign is finished, the haircut challenge is so popular that Coughlin says Grove Studios fans can continue to share pictures of their hair (or lack thereof) on Grove Studios' Facebook page indefinitely. Participants' photos can be seen here in the Quarantine Cut Challenge thread.
Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township and the project manager of On the Ground Ypsilanti. She joined Concentrate as a news writer in early 2017 and is an occasional contributor to other Issue Media Group publications. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more Concentrate coverage of our community's response to the COVID-19 crisis, click here.