The Non-Profit Entrepreneur

By Marilyn Morgan

How are you getting by during the Covid-19 Stay at Home Order? If you are like most sewers, you’ve been making face masks! And more masks, and more masks, and more masks. 

Here’s my experience. Can you relate? In the beginning, I drug my feet and didn’t jump on the face mask bandwagon. . . I’ll admit it. There were so many conflicting news reports on their effectiveness that I kept working on my normal projects (Graduation T-shirt Quilt, machine embroidery projects and JUDY tops!) Then we got the news that the masks could prevent at least 50% of our virus germs infecting other people. My youngest daughter is a supervisor at a local manufacturing plant that was deemed essential . . . and they were requesting masks; easily making my decision to get on board. It’s been a wild ride! 

Let me say without shame, that I could be making masks from now till eternity and not run out of fabric. Elastic, however soon became scarce. We’ve all had to deal with the shortage. The other day it dawned on me that I can add “manufacturing entrepreneur” to my job resume. 

  • Research & Development 
    • Review and produce prototypes of various mask patterns – decide which one would be the fastest and most effective use of time and materials – while still giving protection and fit. I chose a pleated version with an opening to insert an optional layer of protection.
  • Materials Procurement
    • Obtain fabric (easy) and elastic (harder) As of today, I’m waiting on 3 different elastic shipments to arrive.
  • Manufacturing
    • Cut fabric and elastic to size. Produce the masks using streamlined assembly line sewing techniques
  • Quality Control
    • Inspect completed masks – correcting sub-par assembly
  • Packaging
    • Staple printed notice to masks on washing or sanitize before use. b. Instructions on how to use the optional pocket opening.
  • Inventory Control
    • Keep warehouse stock to a minimum
  • Advertising
    • Word of mouth worked wonders here.
  • Sales
    • Community Service Project – No charge . . . HOWEVER . . . once the employees started receiving masks, they generously donated cash toward the costs of materials.

Throughout this whole quarantine, it has done my heart good to see how a community can pull together for the good of all without negativity from anyone. 

Secondly, it has once again shown me how the sewing community can rally together for a good cause. Many others from my local American Sewing Guild group are also sewing masks. 

Third and maybe most important is that sometimes I think those of us who sew do not give ourselves credit for being creative and able to “get it done” no matter what project is thrown our way. We are special people. You and I both know that not everyone can and even want to sew. 

Once this is slows down, I plan on making fun things again; in fact I plan on inserting fun sewing in between the assembly line sewing. It’s important to keep creative and inspired to sew. Once this slows down, I hope to meet with other sewing sisters to just enjoy each other while we sew and share our experiences. I’ll bet you have a story to tell, don’t you?


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