Detroit Sewn, a Pontiac-based contract sewing house, today announced it has restructured its entire operation to produce more than 300,000 medical masks that are in line with CDC guidelines as part of the “Arsenal for Health Care” effort due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The masks are vital personal protection equipment for medical professionals.
By adding a second shift, acquiring four more high-production sewing machines, and outsourcing work to seven additional Detroit-based subcontractors, Detroit Sewn hopes to create 50,000 masks a week by April 6. The company is producing 10,000 masks a week now.
In turn, ARINARI, a boutique fashion house in Detroit, announced this week it has produced and donated more than 300 health care masks. The company, co-founded by two sisters, Ariana Demaj and Arita Thaqi, say nurses from the University of Michigan, Beaumont, and other local hospitals and nurseries have picked up more than 100 masks in the last 48 hours.
The company is ramping up to produce up to 150 marks per day, and is seeking more material (cotton) and elastic. They report the items are difficult to source given unprecedented demand. To assist, donate supplies, or funds to the volunteer effort, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The sisters lived through a war in Kosovo and say the United States is the reason they are alive today. “Having lived through a war ourselves, we understand too well what it means to receive help during hard times. These are unprecedented times for humanity and we’re lucky to have a skillset and means to help those in the front lines fighting this virus,” says co-founder Ariana Demaj.
Everything done to date has been 100 percent funded and donated by ARINARI and their families. Anyone in need of masks can visit the ARINARI website at ARINARI.co or find them on Instagram and direct message them.
Detroit Sewn reports it is producing a no-gap, 100 percent cotton mask. It is double-folded with twill or ties, pleating, and wire at the top to form around the nose. Adhering to CDC guidelines, the mask will be able to be reused after washing. An elastic tie alternative is also available.
To keep workers safe, all the machines and cut operations are more than six feet apart and proper outerwear and masks are being worn by all. Following safety guidelines, all linens are being laundered in hot water each day.
“We started with one order for 50,000 masks and the phone kept ringing from all over the country,” says Karen Buscemi, CEO of Detroit Sewn. “We’re now looking at making 300,000 masks and the number keeps growing. We’ve expanded into the office next door and are looking for additional nearby office space for the additional machines and staff.”
In addition, Detroit Sewn and Glamorous Moms Foundation have also organized a volunteer hub to accept homemade masks. They are packaging the work of home sewers in 10-packs for free distribution to non-hospital groups such as senior centers, soup kitchens and first responders upon request. The masks are distributed curbside by volunteers in proper safety gear. The command center for volunteer mask inquiries is here.
A third component of the project is being launched by G1 Impact, a 501(c)3 non-profit fiscal sponsor, to acquire machinery to make KN95 masks in the United States and to purchase N95 masks in bulk from China. The goal is to bolster the US supply of medical PPE and provide jobs for American workers.
G1 Impact is grateful to The Skillman Foundation which has stepped up to lead funding for the volunteer mask effort to ensure that masks are provided to essential and impacted COVID-19 frontline nonprofits. Other funders for the multi-tier effort are Detroit Area Honda Dealers, Dow Employees Credit Union, Mandell and Madeleine Berman Foundation, Charles J. Strosacker Foundation, Oakland University, Welding Concepts Training, and Dominion Real Estate Advisors.
A fundraising campaign has launched here. The group is hoping to raise $150,000 from individuals in the short term, and ultimately one million dollars total as additional states are added and additional small business manufacturers join this effort.