Fallon design firm poised for next round of growth
For the five years that’s she’s been running Buttsup Duck Designs LLC, Kelly Campbell has focused on keeping dollars in Fallon and Churchill County.
Now that she has her feet firmly on the ground with the embroidery and screen-printing firm, Campbell hopes to become one of the companies that brings fresh dollars to town from customers across the United States.
The company is in the running for some larger corporate accounts from outside the region, a potentially big step for a small company that mostly serves customers in Fallon and Fernley these days.
While Buttsup Duck Designs is competing against far larger companies for that national business, Campbell says she’s inspired by the possibility of making a difference in her hometown.
“Fallon is in desperate need of good-paying jobs,” says Campbell as she explains her push to expand the reach of Buttsup Duck Designs.
She began positioning the little company for growth at the start of this year when she swallowed hard and quit the day job that had supported Campbell and her husband, John, while she built Buttsup Duck Designs on nights and weekends.
But a second big step that envisioned — opening a retail storefront location — was put on hold after Campbell listened to teacher and fellow students in NxLeveL, the entrepreneurial training program overseen by the Nevada Small Business Development Center.
Although Campbell already had been touring possible sites around Fallon with real estate agents, her discussions during NxLeveL convinced her that a storefront doesn’t yet pencil out.
Instead, she’s opening a display room for customers in the front of the garage at her home that serves as Buttsup Duck Design’s production facility.
That sort of financial caution has marked the firm’s growth ever since its start in 2008.
As a hobby, Campbell had been imprinting and sewing on baby apparel. Friends began asking her to take on other apparel embroidery and printing jobs, but Campbell and her husband quickly figured that those jobs didn’t generate much profit for the time and work they requried.
She decided to jump in with both feet, selling some assets and raising the money to buy a used commercial embroidery machine as well as a vinyl cutter that allowed the company to fill orders for decals and banners.
“I’m very much a Craigslist shopper,” Campbell says. “At the time, people were jumping out of this business.”
Since then, the company has grown with orders from businesses in Churchill County and neighboring communities and has found a steady stream of work in the creation of team apparel for youth sports programs.
While she’s hoping to working to become a hero to her hometown economy, Campbell already has become a hero to students at Churchill County High School.
As the high school’s football team prepared to play in the state championship game in November, mascot Garrett Kalt — who’d been wearing a bedraggled discount-store cape for his four years of cheering for the team — was presented with a crafted cape created by Buttsup Deck Designs.
Kalt was so moved that he used the story as the subject for his college entrance essay.
The essay concludes, “You don’t have to wear a cape to be a super hero.”
From a national standpoint, research shows the embrace of digital commerce is a whole decade ahead of schedule thanks to the pandemic. We spoke with the Retail Association of Nevada, Downtown Reno Partnership and the Reno+Sparks Chamber of Commerce to give local context to the growth of online retail.