(Filed Under wholesale Lingerie News). As part of the response to the pandemic, intimate apparel companies large and small have responded by creating masks and other personal protection equipment. Trousseau Lingerie in Vienna, VA jumped in by sewing its own versions of masks which it donates to health care workers and anyone else in need. BODY associate publisher Ted Vayos interviewed owners Sarah and Michael Wiener.
VAYOS: Do you have a name for this effort?
MICHAEL WIENER: The Trousseau Mask Project.
VAYOS: How did you get involved with making masks?
MICHAEL WIENER: Initially Sarah teamed up with Carine’s Bridal Atelier in Georgetown, DC to help their efforts to make masks for area hospitals. When local orders to shelter in place were enacted, it became difficult to deliver masks across the state boarder into DC. We changed direction and contacted a friend who is a nurse practitioner. Through her medical network, we began making masks for doctor’s offices, pharmacists, dialysis centers, chemo patients and older people. After a Trousseau social media post, we received requests from more people in need including McGuire Veteran’s Hospital in Richmond, Johns Hopkins Sibley Memorial Hospital in DC, restaurant workers, delivery people, grocery store workers and many others.
VAYOS: How did you decide who would be receiving these masks?
SARAH WIENER: We help anyone who asks. Since the project started, Michael has learned how to operate a sewing machine. Friends, neighbors and a few employees have joined the effort cutting and sewing.
VAYOS: How many masks have you already delivered?
SARAH WIENER: As of today, over 900 masks as still going.
VAYOS: How did you come up with your mask design, fabrics and components? Are these medical grade masks like the N95?
SARAH WIENER: Our masks are based on a CDC approved pattern, made in a double layer woven cotton. We have added a small wire to the design at the bridge of the nose to create a snugger fit. For high risk people, we have added HEPA filters from vacuum cleaner bags. While these are not medical grade N95 masks, they are highly effective barriers.
VAYOS: How many people are helping you with this project?
SARAH WIENER: We have five people in the core group and enjoy the participation of a dozen others. People have generously contributed fabric, thread, wire, ribbon, HEPA vacuum bags, filter paper, an extra sewing machine and even brownies (that keeps Michael sewing!)
VAYOS: How does this work, while still following the social distancing guidelines?
SARAH WIENER: We have developed a system of leaving packages at front doors. Questions are answered through text messages and FaceTime.
VAYOS: How are the masks delivered?
MICHAEL WIENER: Some are personally delivered at a distance and some are shipped.
VAYOS: Have your charity efforts received any additional donations from the industry wholesalers and retailers?
MICHAEL WIENER: In complement to the mask project; we have received generous donations from Falke, Anita, Eveden, Linda Hartman and Valens Lingerie for the support and well being of the medical personnel, veteran and civilian patients at McGuire Veteran’s Hospital, Johns Hopkins Sibley Memorial Hospital and Vanderbilt Hospital.
VAYOS: When you reopen your store do you believe that masks will be an important part of the retail landscape?
MICHAEL WIENER: We plan to open with masks for both customers and employees, as we believe that double barrier is the first step to keep everyone safe.
VAYOS: How will things will be different, going forward when this is over?
SARAH WIENER: We sincerely hope that life will return to normal with a little more kindness and caring in the world.
VAYOS: Have you been thinking of changing the store and the way you will do business in the future? Please explain.
SARAH WIENER: It is too soon to tell.
VAYOS: Have you been considering changes to the make up of the brands in your store? What changes have you been contemplating going forward, when this is over?
MICHAEL WIENER: Stocking more soap and adding a wine section. Our next GWP will be a roll of TP with the purchase of two bras! (Just kidding!).
VAYOS: If anyone in this industry wishes to assist your efforts how can they reach you?
MICHAEL WIENER: Please contact Michael at Mwiener@trousseaultd.com
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