We decided that Oh Do Kwon Tae Kwon Do & Self-Defense – Tazewell TKD could pivot and stay open from Day 1 of the pandemic. With our 9th annual 2020 Grandmaster Roy Richmond Legacy Tournament being postponed, we believed we could make a difference.
For essential workers, COVID19 immediately changed the way they worked. For businesses, it immediately changed the way the businesses operated. While many businesses were ordered to temporarily closed amid the pandemic, if your business supplied 51% of more of essential goods, in many jurisdictions, that business was allowed to stay open. These business and the essential workers who worked there needed help. We believed we could make a difference.
We’ve all heard the saying, when traveling by air, “put your oxygen mask on first”. This applies to cotton face masks just as well. During the first days, the pandemic was announced, while I was not fearful for myself, I wanted to take precautions not to transmit it to my mother after days spent making in-person calls to local businesses and interacting with their patrons.
Even though the CDC initially stated that cloth face masks were not effective, I knew I would feel better wearing one, weeks before they were mandated. I called my mother, an avid quilter and asked her to make me one. I believed they would help since I interact with many essential businesses on a day-to-day basis. I went to her house later that night and selected some fabric and was looking forward to a mask. When I showed up the next day to pick up the mask, she made me a child size cloth face mask with cowboy themed fabric. I have no idea why she did this. I went to her sewing room and made my own mask and came up with one.
I fashioned a five pleat elastic design. It was my favorite. Because I hadn’t sewn in some time, I was slow and awkward. After I completed my mask, I didn’t have the time or patience to duplicate it or make a pattern. I gave up. Nonetheless, I was pleased with my first attempt and this mask still continues to be my favorite. We found the fabric at a thrift store a few months back and thought it was interesting and paired it with a reversible zebra print. But then I wanted to make more.
Not only was there global shortages of both surgical masks and N95 masks, we found that there were fabric and elastic shortages due to businesses being ordered closed. So we used the fabric my mother had on hand from her years of collecting fabric for quilting and used a fabric tie style to compensate for not having elastic.
Many of the initial masks we made were and are being used by essential workers in restaurants, supermarkets, doctor’s offices and many other businesses before they became widely available as they are now. We are proud to say that we were one of the first companies to bring to market cloth face masks.
Government mandates, shortages of cloth masks, and fear of illness created a great demand that caused other businesses to enter the market and offer a variety of masks from all levels of styles, quality of materials and craftsmanship. Our face masks are made of 100% premium cotton and are both breathable and comfortable.
We were able to help so many people with homemade masks held together with staples and rubber-bands and those that would have otherwise been turned away from entering essential businesses for much needed items during shelter-in-place.
We leveraged our design sensibilities and experience to understand the current recommendations and research in the area of fabric masks with regards to coverage requirements, most optimal fabric choices, and usability considerations.
We sourced the optimal fabrics needed to construct the mask from our in-house fabric inventory to mitigate supply chain issues in these troubling times when most supply chains have been interrupted.