The year 2020 has lead to several creative solutions in an effort to make the world happier. Now, out of the small East Texas town of Rusk, comes a brand-new combination for a memorable homecoming season: mum masks.

Shay Mueller, of Rusk, has been making mums every year during homecoming season since she was a student at Hallsville High School.

This year, in light of students being required to wear masks, she stumbled upon a new creation last month.

“I was sitting in my bed one night and thought I’m going to make mum masks,” she said.

Then she shared the creations on Facebook and the response was overwhelming. She’s received requests for mum masks not only across the state but throughout the country.

Mueller has always done hobbies and crafty activities over the years and even had a business in high school dedicated to mum making called Mum’s the Word.

Her day job is being the owner of the gymnastics center T’s Tumbling Cheer & Dance in Rusk.

Despite her kids being off to college, Mueller continues to make mums annually just because of how much she loves it.

“I’ll do that till I can’t do it no more,” she said. “To me, the homecoming mums are something you get to wear once. You get to show your school spirit.”

One of her first customers was her friend Shinnitta Foreman, of Rusk, who is the principal at Westwood Elementary in Palestine.

“I like them because they were unique and different,” she said. “It was a huge hit (at our homecoming). All of our kids loved it. It was just a fun way to show off homecoming spirit.”

Foreman said she’s known Mueller for years after their sons played football together.

She saw her friend’s post about her creation and said she had to get one.

Foreman asked for bling and glitter for an over-the-top design and Mueller delivered through her creativity.

“I was the cool principal for the day,” Foreman said.

Foreman said several kids and others asked her where she got the mum-mask combo. People she didn’t even know were messaging her about how to get a mask.

She added that the unique masks are top quality.

In school, Mueller was in nearly every extracurricular activity, including serving as head cheerleader and being in the theater club.

But she never thought she would be making mum masks.

“It’s a neat little memory for homecoming 2020,” Mueller said.

Using Facebook messenger, she’s received requests for a wide range of mum masks, including those for college, schools, bachelorette events and cancer survivors.

Each mum mask requires a three-day process, Mueller explained.

On day one, the mask gets painted and on the second day the glitter is applied. The third day is for the decorations. She said everybody who has seen the mum masks loves them and says they’re cute.

Foreman said Mueller is already well-known across the region for her gym, but she’s gained a much larger audience with the mum masks.

“I told her she was a local celebrity,” Foreman said. “I really think this has expanded her reach. Now, she’s definitely on the map. It’s nice to know someone that’s doing something positive, creative and unique.”


I came to the Tyler Morning Telegraph in September 2019. I report on crime, courts, breaking news and various events in Tyler and East Texas.

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