Tag Archive for: covid19

the mask project featured image

The past five days have been a whirlwind — to put it lightly.

It started on Friday when I received three emails from people interested in sewing masks for medical workers.

As the day went on, I kept hearing from our factory partners that they wanted to help, but they didn’t know where to send the masks.

So much of my experience through Factory45 is based on connecting entrepreneurs with manufacturers. 

It got me thinking about how I could translate that into connecting hospitals with manufacturers.

And that’s how The Mask Project was born.

The Mask Project

In record time, we launched a website on Saturday night (thanks to Emily Belyea Creative) and with the help of a 70-person email chain of sustainable fashion influencers, we started spreading the word about the project on Sunday.

Kathryn and her team at Good Clothing Company got to work designing a more efficient pattern for the mask.

JOANN Fabrics stepped in to donate thousands of yards of fabric and as of Tuesday afternoon, we have 54 factories willing to sew medical masks. 

We’ve also received requests for over 100,000 masks from hospitals all over the country.

I’ve estimated that with our factory network, we could manufacture over 500,000 masks per week — two million masks per month — for medical professionals across the U.S.

But here’s the thing: right now, these factories are donating their time and labor.

While they’re pivoting their business models to help with the mass shortage of medical supplies, they also need to keep themselves in business.

This is different from the home sewers and hobbyists making 100 masks a week and donating them. It’s still amazing, but it’s different.

The real impact in this mask shortage can be made by our network of U.S. factories that want to keep their sewers employed.

Over the past 24 hours, I’ve learned more about hospital supply chain, government funding and the intricacies of budget restrictions than I ever thought I would.

It’s clear that the city government and hospital funds are maxed out. The money that they do have should be spent on N95 respirators and ventilators directly in contact with COVID-19.

The masks that we’re making are meant to be used in sterile environments and operation room settings to free up the “real masks” for treating contagious disease.

And while I’m working on strategic partnerships with influencers who can amplify the message for funding, it’s ultimately going to come down to individual donations.

So, in what I thought would be a very different blog than what I’m posting today, I’m asking you to consider supporting these factories that want to help and that also want to stay in business.

You’ll see a “Donate” button on The Mask Project website here.

In the meantime, I’ll be working on alternative ways to get mass amounts of funding for our manufacturing partners, while continuing to research hospital supply chains (if this is your area of expertise, please email me!)

Thank you to so many of you who have already spread the word and supported the project on Instagram this week.

Our community is the best.





It took me seven hours to write this post.

It’s true, I didn’t complete any other work yesterday. 

Monday was even worse (I won’t tell you how many episodes of Peaky Blinders I re-watched...)

So before I attempt to pull us up by the bootstraps, I want you to know that I’ve been as distracted, unmotivated, scared, sad and freaked out as you may feel.

And yet, what I’ve come to realize is this: The show must go on.

Your business, your friend’s business, the business you may one day start — they all depend on it.

And while the show may look a lot different than it did a week ago, we need your small business to start, to grow, to survive.

So if you’re ready, this is my rallying cry for small brands across the globe.

We can get through this — and here’s how:

Now is the time to innovate like you’ve never innovated before. 

I have seen genius examples of this in just the past couple of days. 

Take knitwear brand Sh*t that I Knit. They knew that millions of people would be confined to their homes with a lot more time on their hands, so they created virtual knitting classes. 

In just 24 hours, 600 people signed up. And then they created The Quarantine Kit to accompany the classes — for $65 you get a skein of Merino Wool yarn, knitting needles, a pattern and video instructions.

My husband’s company, Project Repat, makes quilts from their customers’ memorable t-shirts. They were worried that people would no longer be able to go to the post office to mail their shirts, so they set up a system to print shipping labels at home and schedule an at-home pickup with the post office. This keeps the business moving without requiring people to leave their homes.

Be sensitive to the climate, but don’t be afraid to market.

I’ve been paying close attention to brands like Reformation and Factory45’er VETTA and how they’ve surveyed their customers in the past five days.

You may feel worried that launching new collections or talking about sustainability or sharing a funny meme will appear insensitive to everything that’s going on in the world.

But do you know what most of their customers told them?

Carry on as normal. The overwhelming majority said they scroll through Instagram to be inspired, see creativity and look at beautiful things — not to hear more news about COVID-19. 

Most people are craving normalcy right now. Take this opportunity to create content that will make them laugh, inspire them or create a feeling of peace.

Move in-person retail to e-commerce or virtual pop-ups.

Boston retailers For Now and Olives + Grace transitioned part of their brick and mortar inventory to e-commerce in 48 hours.

I’m sure it wasn’t an easy task — with a lot of lost sleep — but desperate times call for desperate measures. This is an example of putting in the hard leg-work now to set up your business for what’s to come.

The Garment has mastered the model of what virtual pop-ups can look like on Instagram. Scroll through Morgan’s Instagram Stories for inspiration. 

Use your time wisely.

This is probably the most challenging piece of advice because we’re all feeling so distracted — not to mention, a lot of us have kids at home.

If you can swing it, this is a great time to invest in educating yourself. One of the first things I did yesterday was sign up for an all-pass subscription to MasterClass (I can take business classes and Mexican cooking classes at the same time.)

Try to set aside some time each day to learn something new or learn more about something you already know. For immediate access to online fashion resources, check out Factory45 TV, StartUp Fashion, Jane Hamill’s Podcast and The Factory Floor.

Keep the dream alive.

If you were planning to start a brand this year and you feel like the wind has been taken out of your sails, hear this:

Don’t wait.

It takes 6-18 months to launch a new fashion brand and now is the perfect time to start researching, developing, planning and marketing for your future launch.

The state of the world will get better and when things take an upward turn, you’ll be ready to debut your brand to a wiser and stronger economy.

I have utmost faith in our ability to get through this and come out better for it on the other side.

And finally…  

If you’re not a small business owner, I have a rallying cry for you as the consumer. 

We need you now more than ever.

It has never been more important to think carefully and thoughtfully about how you spend your money.

There are small businesses that sell just about every consumer product you can think of and they want to serve your needs.

It’s up to all of us to keep our small businesses alive so that when we do get past this, they can continue to thrive.

This is our rallying cry.

Will you join me?




Are you a small business entrepreneur? Please share this post with your fellow small business owners.