With Masks Mandatory in Mass., Companies Push to Meet Demand

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Now that the mandatory mask order is in effect in Massachusetts, face coverings are becoming must-have items. However, businesses can only pump them out so quickly, and many are working hard to meet the demand.

Samantha Shih, who owns 9Tailors in Boston, pivoted her tailoring business to make masks during the pandemic. She said her team of tailors has been ramping up production in preparation for the mask mandate and now offer several different fabric options.

"We have everything from masks made of neoprene to masks made out of dress shirt material," Shih said.

She said customers are now ordering multiple masks, as well as children's masks, since everyone over the age of 2 is required to wear one.

"We are just mask overload," Shih said. "The tailors are working around the clock, and my showroom is now a fulfillment center."

It is a similar story at Ministry of Supply. The clothing brand founded at MIT just rolled out a science-backed mask that comes with a set of lab-tested filters.

"It allows us to go a step beyond just a cloth mask," co-founder Gihan Amarasiriwardena said. "We were born out of MIT, so science is on our roots, and we take an engineering approach to any product we create."

People must now cover their noses and mouths when out in public in Massachusetts.

Ministry of Supply launched the masks last week and some of the colors are already sold out. Since a 3D knit printer is used to make them, the brand is able to replenish the supply quickly.

"We were stunned at how fast the first batch went," Amarasiriwardena said.

Both 9Tailors and Ministry of Supply have a giving component to their sales and are donating some of what they make to workers on the front lines.

Knowing many need a mask now and not everyone can afford to buy one, Hadassah Margolis of Brookline came up with an idea. She launched the website Got Masks Brookline. It connects volunteers who are making masks with those who need them, whether it is a family or senior living facility.

The initiative has been able to fulfill more than 250 requests since it started in early April, and Margolis hopes to replicate the model in cities and towns across the state.

"We really want to be able to become a tool for people to be able to do what they need to do in order to keep themselves safe and their communities safe," Margolis said. "It's the ultimate community care."

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