Arizona Transplants Helping “Mask” the Problem

When Bruce and Krystal Balls set out on vacation from their home in northern Arizona for the Black Hills last summer, they were hoping to make Rapid City more than a temporary getaway. Krystal responded to a job posting from Monument Health and was hired as a nurse, so they packed up the family (the couple has three kids aged 8, 6, and 3) and made the move to the Midwest. 

In search of additional opportunities, they focused on starting up a micro business and opened an Etsy shop they named 605Design on March 1. With the COVID-19 pandemic hijacking the daily headlines, they decided to focus their attention on creating reusable, washable cotton face masks. They invested in a Cricut, a cutting machine popular with home crafters, and had a prototype designed and ready to go by March 2.  

Not surprisingly, the masks were an immediate hit. They come in a variety of styles, are washable and reusable, and include a pocket for additional protection. Customers can choose elastic or a fabric tie to secure them in place, and each mask can be personalized. Three sizes are available: ages 2-5, 6-12, and adult.

605Design received their 100th order this past week, and the demand shows no signs of slowing—especially given warnings about the shortage of masks nationwide. This has meant a lot of late nights for Bruce, who is a stay-at-home dad with the kids while Krystal works and studies for her MBA. But he’s happy to do it, knowing that he is providing a valuable commodity for people who are unable to find masks elsewhere. 

“I wear my mask out in public, and people ask about it,” Bruce says. “I’m trying to be a better, positive force in the community.” 

The masks cost $12 apiece, but 605Design provides discounts for first responders and health care professionals. They sell them at cost to Monument Health, more concerned about ensuring adequate coverage for those in need than making a profit. 

If you’d like to order a mask for yourself or a loved one, visit their online store. You might be contributing to a few late nights for the family, but they don’t mind: it’s worth the sacrifice to help flatten the curve!