Laid-off geologist overcoming COVID-19 crisis by creating sanitizing wipes business

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WATCH: COVID-19 has been a real test for a lot of people. A Calgary woman took her unfortunate turn and transformed it into a viable growing business. Jill Croteau reports – Jul 10, 2020

It started out as a necessary experiment, due to the widespread sellout of sanitizing wipes. Morgan Keane said they couldn’t find any for her immunocompromised relatives amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We started looking up do-it-yourself methods. It was sold out everywhere. So we spent a couple week testing things out to see if we could make product literally just for our family,” Keane said.

Keane’s business YYC Local Wipes is about as home grown as it gets. She manufactures the product out of a home, turning a kitchen table into an assembly line.

“I have literally created myself a full-time job,” Keane said. “We are pulling 12- to 14-hour days.”

Read more: Finding a job during a pandemic is not easy, but still possible

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By trade, Keane is a geologist. But she lost her job in the pandemic.

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“I was laid off on a Thursday at the end of April for my job as a geologist and I actually launched this business on the Sunday,” Keane said. “We joke that I gave myself the one day off on a Friday to get myself back up.”

They manufacture out of Franco’s East Village loft. Jill Croteau/Global News

She sourced out local distilleries for product, ordering labels made from a local printer and scaling her business to the point she’s been able to hire staff — others whose jobs were impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.

“We wanted it to be all local. I got laid off from my oil and gas position and we have another employee of ours that helps out, their business is almost shut down with the COVID-19 crisis and we have another employee that had salary cuts,” Keane said.

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Darnell Franco is an engineer in oil and gas, he still has his full-time job but he is so committed to the mission, he works the midnight shifts and weekends.

“I consider that admirable. Seeing Calgary struggle with the economy, it hit home. To see Morgan start on her own and have her business grow to the point where she’s able to take on help and employ people, I think that’s so cool,” Franco said.

Keane has sold over 1,000 packages so far, personally delivering every single one to the doorsteps of customers. She’s making room for some goodwill too, donating $1 from every purchase to the Calgary Food Bank.

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