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Detroit Sewn Retools to Produce Medical Masks in Pontiac, Michigan

04/03/2020
In response to the COVID-19 crisis, Detroit Sewn, a contract sewing house, restructured its entire operation in Pontiac, Michigan. The company will produce more than 300,000 CDC-certified medical masks as part of the "Arsenal for Health Care" effort.

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. They are producing 10,000 masks a week now.

"We started with one order for 50,000 masks and the phone kept ringing from all over the country," said Karen Buscemi, CEO, 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.

According to company officials, a third component of the project is being launched by G1 Impact, a 501(c)3non-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 said it 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.

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