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Johnston County Firm Raises $100,000 for Aussie Wildfire Relief Through Specialty Product Sales

Clayton-based Blue Pack Marketing, an e-commerce business that sells specialty
merchandise, is showing its support for victims of the Australian wildfires through sales
of newly branded “Hearts for Australia” and “Paws for Australia” lines of its Piper Lou
Collection. The result so far has been $50,000 contributions each to the Australian Red
Cross and the Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors.

The initiative began January 2 and has exceeded the company’s most optimistic
expectations, according to Cory Rush, chief executive officer of the Blue Park Marketing.
“We had no clue what it would bring, and the response has been a total surprise to us,”
says Rush, one of two brothers at the heart of the six-year-old firm. The company sent
an initial $50,000 to the Australian Red Cross on January 9, but sales continued to pour
in, and a second $50,000 donation was sent on January 13 to the Wildlife Warriors, an
animal welfare foundation launched by the family of the late “Crocodile Hunter” Steve
Irwin. Blue Pack is now upping its fundraising target from the campaign to $250,000 by
the end of January. “Our goal is to continue making these donations as long as people
continue to share our desire to help out in the relief,” Rush says.

Piper Lou products include branded beanies, tumblers and t-shirts. The company is
donating 100 percent of net profits from these products, which are now being marketing
online (www.piperloucollection.com). The firm’s customer base includes buyers around
the world, including Australia. Blue Pack, which employs about 35 workers in Clayton,
launched the female-oriented Piper Lou brand in June 2016. The company’s suppliers
have also lent a hand, offering rock-bottom wholesale pricing on the goods in order to
maximize the charitable proceeds.

Rush cites the heartbreaking videos and photos from Australia, where homes have been
lost, people are being displaced and an estimated one to two billion animals may have
perished. “People want to do the right thing,” he says. Seasonality may also account for
the strong response. “It’s January, which is usually a slower time of year,” says Rush.
Keegan Rush, chief marketing officer at Blue Pack, credits the outpouring of support to
the brand’s fiercely loyal customers. “It’s been a resounding rally of our followers,” he
says. In fact, the company’s two founders learned about the Wildlife Warrior
Foundation through several of their customers. “It’s the #1 Australian wildlife charity,”
he says. The tragedy in Australia inspired Blue Pack to “step up and flex our marketing
muscle,” Keegan Rush explains. “It’s allowed us to get behind a good cause.” The
brothers are now thinking about other giving campaigns their brands might support –
cancer or diabetes research, for example.

Blue Pack Marketing, whose name recognizes the Rush’s two favorite NCAA athletic
programs – Duke and NC State, currently operates out of 21,000 sq.-ft. of space on
Highway 70 near Grifols. The firm shares space there with Edge Promotions, a strategic
partner. “We’re really busting at the seams,” says Keegan Rush, and the two firms are
now exploring larger space nearby. “We’re committed to staying in Clayton and
Johnston County.”

Chris Johnson, director of the Johnston County Economic Development Office, calls
Blue Pack “one the most innovation-minded small businesses in the region that no one’s
ever heard of,” succeeding with a unique blend of modern technology, vision and drive.
“They are prospering in a very competitive global market through sheer creativity and
determination,” Johnson says. “Blue Pack Marketing could operate from anywhere but
chose to plant roots in Clayton. I’m proud of what they’re doing for Australia and
delighted for what they’re doing for Johnston County.”
[Lawrence Bivins is Raleigh-based managing director of the North Carolina Economic
Development Association, a WRAL TechWire partner.]

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