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Why We Started Manufacturing Face Masks

by Marj Ochs
Why We Started Manufacturing Face Masks

Marj Ochs - June 9, 2020

A Plea for Help

When COVID-19 shut down the country, my husband and I were blessed to already be working from home. But a few weeks into the shutdown, I got a desperate text from my manufacturer saying he hadn’t worked in over a month. He and his wife sew for a lot of companies, not just mine, so I hadn’t realized their situation until he told me. My sales had slowed, and I didn’t have any work for him manufacturing for my existing product line.

However, I realized there was a new product that everyone needed per CDC recommendations – face masks – and I already had all of the supplies to do it. I could employ my manufacturer and provide a needed product at the same time. So I got to work researching what fabrics worked best, how many layers of fabric, and which material is best for inserts. There was no point manufacturing face masks if they weren’t going to protect anyone.

What I found was that 2 layers of cotton or cotton flannel provide some level of protection but that adding a 2-layer insert – specifically Toolbox brand shop towels – provides a much higher level of protection while still being breathable. 

What to look for in a face mask

Breathability. 100% cotton fabrics provide superior breathability over synthetics and won't get as hot while you're out and about. If it's uncomfortable, you won't wear it.

Filtration. Research has shown that 2 layers of cotton fabric combined with 2 layers of Toolbox brand shop towels provides the best filtration in cloth masks.

Fit. If the mask doesn't fit tightly around your nose and face, it won't protect you or the people around you. An adjustable metal nose piece helps with this, as do adjustable ties. Elastic can work if it's cut to the right length, but it can cut into your ears over a long period of time.

We got to work

After I made some tweaks on existing patterns, my manufacturer got to work, and we’ve been able to provide masks to individuals, nursing homes (at cost), and businesses alike.

Showing making procedure is a good way to guarantee product quality

Sign of the times

I know that wearing a mask isn’t always convenient. As an asthmatic, I confess that my claustrophobia kicks in after about 30 minutes. But it’s a simple way to protect those around us who may be immune-compromised, like covering your face when you sneeze. I’m looking forward to the time when seeing someone in a face mask will be an anachronism, instead of just a sign of the times.

But until then, it's important to know our options and what to look for. As businesses open and we start to get back to our normal lives, we can still choose to protect ourselves and each other.

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Be prepared for wherever the summer takes you

Article credit : Marjorie Ochs

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