ST. LOUIS – The Collective Thread is a known sewing school that works with individuals interested in sewing, fashion designers, and up-and-coming apparel lines in St. Louis. Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, the school began using its skills and resources to provide protective masks to essential workers throughout the community.
Terri Stipanovich, CEO of Collective Thread, was worried what would become of her business in the midst of this crisis.
“When the COVID-19 crisis first hit, we were wondering how that was going to affect us as a company. What was going to happen to us? Would we be able to keep our staff employed and how would we do that when many customers were pulling their projects,” she said. “It took about a week and then we started getting requests for masks.”
Terri was shocked by the high demand for masks around the area. Once other businesses and individuals found out that they were making masks, requests starting pouring in.
Terri and her partner, Annie Miller, began making around 300 masks a day. The average increased once they were able to pay their employees to make masks, and they are now producing around 500 masks per day. Terri said that there were five thousand individual masks requested just today.
On top of providing protection for the community, the Collective Thread is also providing jobs for refugee and immigrant women. They make $5 per mask made.
Many of their husbands have been laid off and so this is the only income they have as a family. That’s really an extra benefit to this project,” Stipanovich said.
Miller is happy they could find a way to act out their mission which is to serve the community through creativity and fashion.
“It’s so rewarding and just the feeling that we can be doing something to help when you’re in this helpless state of crisis,” she said. “When you don’t know what you can do, and we found something that was helpful, and that’s really a great feeling.”
The Collective Thread is accepting money and fabric donations that will help them meet the demand for masks. They are also encouraging individuals who are skilled in sewing to volunteer to help make or deliver masks.