As the United States embarks on week five of the coronavirus pandemic, we are all searching for as much normalcy as possible. Many of us are used to carrying out our duties from a desk miles away from our homes, and some can fulfill those duties remotely. Small businesses, however, were not as fortunate as soon as they were deemed non-essential. Dependent on walk-in traffic or scheduled appointments, shop owners are forced to adapt to the current atmosphere or risk financial uncertainty.
My wife Sarah owns and runs, along with her mother, a women’s clothier. They decided in early March to close their doors as the lion’s share of their business involves personal interaction. Their boutique creates custom clothing from the finest fabrics, which means they are no strangers to thinking on their feet to find customer solutions. So, how could they find a new solution and a renewed sense of purpose while furloughed at home?
Once the call went out recommending the public wear masks, Sarah jumped at the opportunity. While donating elastic to the local fabric store, she picked up a few yards of textile they were giving away and began researching templates and guidelines. Before too long, our house had become a mask production facility.
After handing them out to family members, other friends who owned necessary businesses began reaching out with bulk orders for their employees. Together, along with our 10-year-old daughter, Sarah and her mother have begun a cottage industry – from our cottage. Gone are the bolts of silk and lace, temporarily replaced by rigid, 100% cotton and stacks of shipping labels.
The light at the end of the tunnel seems to be getting brighter, but no one can say for sure if normal will look the same once the COVID-19 dust settles. In the meantime, all we can do is stick close to home, wash our hands, and do our best to help out when we’re able.