Couture Planet has joined countless other manufacturers and home sewers across our nation with the effort to provide much-needed supplies to our medical workers.
The Coronavirus first affected us at Couture Planet directly when the New England Made wholesale show being held in Portland, Maine, was cancelled the day prior to setup. (This was March 12). Soon thereafter, other shows in Richmond Virginia and Houston, Texas on our schedule for mid-April were also cancelled. It felt like we had all just started thinking about "social distancing" -- a new term the whole country had recently learned. We considered that this would slow our business down. We were, of course, taken aback, but soon began to make plans for how we would use this break in the action to catch up. First, we wanted to catch our breath after a fast-paced holiday season, followed by a surprisingly busy January and February (typically a slower time of the year for retail sales). Then, we wanted to get our creative juices flowing by experimenting with new styles and shapes. It is difficult to manipulate the newspaper and takes a lot of trial and error accompanied by patience.
Then, very quickly, we all began to understand the scope of the problem. Businesses began closing and the Governor of Massachusetts shut down all but essential businesses. We learned about the immediate and overwhelming shortage of protective medical masks. Through social media, we saw groups were organizing to do whatever possible. We knew we had to be part of that effort.
My business partner, Michelle, was determined and didn’t waste a moment! We quickly got up to speed on how to actually make the mask -- thanks to a number of online how-to videos and conversations with friends in the medical professions. We sought donations of fabric and elastic. Quarter-inch elastic is scarce at the moment. We reached out to a partner business who makes labels for our bags—ClothingLabels4U – who dug out a big roll of elastic and shipped it off to us. A community member in the Lydia Pinkham Building (Joselito's Upholstery) found another large roll and again, happily donated to the cause. We continue to reach out for donations within our local community (see information regarding donations at the end of the blog). We are able to continue to employ our full-time sewer and feel incredibly privileged to be helping with this effort.
Completed protective masks are going out daily. We are working to help supply the Massachusetts DCF (Department of Children and Families) via an effort coordinated by Lauren Baker, our neighbor and wife of Charlie Baker, Governor of MA – who is leading these efforts. Some masks are also going directly to local medical personnel in need. We will continue our efforts, while maintaining a safe work environment and practicing social distancing.
None of us know what tomorrow will bring but we know we have to support those in the trenches while the rest of us do our part to flatten this curve. On a good day (and there will be more of those in the future for all of us- promise!) we understand the value of community. In times like this, we embrace that community because without it, we are nothing.
NOTE: We are seeking donations of cotton fabric, ¼ inch elastic, and pipe cleaners. If you have anything to contribute, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org