Missouri Makers, Entrepreneurs Mobilize to Fill Mask Shortage, and You Can Help, Too

Missouri Makers, Entrepreneurs Mobilize to Fill Mask Shortage, and You Can Help, Too

Photo: Hello Dobson, a St. Louis lifestyle brand, is one of the many makers across the state that have pivoted to make masks.

As the coronavirus pandemic disrupts daily life and forces small businesses to rethink their operations, some enterprising folks in Missouri are stepping up and making a difference, using an old move that so many entrepreneurs know: the pivot. (After all, entrepreneurs are masters of thinking on their feet, seeing what’s next and adapting to any situation.)

But these particular pivots involve a key focus: PPE, aka personal protection equipment. There’s no doubt you’ve read about the massive shortages with masks, protective garb and ventilators in your community, so businesses across the state are shifting to make a difference and helping alleviate projected shortages, especially the necessary equipment brave professionals need on the front lines to continue working.

With the most recent guidance from health officials recommending that everyone wear a mask in public, organizations and businesses across the entire state are accepting donations, making masks and giving them to the folks who need them most.

Speaking of organizations that need masks, here’s a quick list of places in Missouri that need masks the most.


In Cape Girardeau

Farming group sews seeds of hope by making masks and building community

Let’s start in Southeast Missouri where Lisa Sanchez and 20 other volunteers have made hundreds of face masks and face shields … but there’s a twist here. Lisa is part of Local Blooms Farm, which usually does community outreach with youth via agriculture, but when COVID-19 hit well before planting season, she used that extra time to give back in a different way. The cool thing is many of the folks helping Lisa are strangers to her but felt the need to give back after her mission resonated with them. Some physicians she’s helped have even donated to her efforts and asked for more PPE. Read all about Lisa and Local Blooms Farm here.

In Columbia

Mid-MO gets in on giving back with homemade masks

Facebook Groups are uniting in the heart of the Show-Me State to stitch together a unified effort to make masks. Enter Central MO Mask Makers and Sew for Safety, which combined their crafty workforce of volunteers (one is a third-grade teacher) to churn out hundreds of masks for a nursing home and other at-risk populations. Even the Boonslick Trail Quilters Guide is using their stitching skills to assemble PPE. Read more about what these groups are doing in Mid-MO right here.

If you’d like to donate to MU Health, apply on this site.

In Kansas City

Local KC Companies need your help to make masks

Made in KC and Sandlot have teamed up to help get masks to care providers, and there are three ways you can help. You can share the message (on the Made in KC website), donate money to cover the cost of materials and wages of the workforce, or sign up to sew masks from home.

Donate to help others make masks for Health Care Workers

Rightfully Sewn in Kansas City is looking for support to buy supplies to make masks and to cover wages for its seamstresses who are making those masks. According to the nonprofit organization’s website, these masks will be donated to five hospitals in the metro area, as well as other health care workers who need them.

The organization says the masks it makes cost less than $7 and that one day’s worth of work for a seamstress it employs is $190. Any gift over $500 will be matched. More details here.

Strawberry Swing Indie Craft Fair showcases nonmedical-grade masks made by KC makers

Strawberry Swing Indie Craft Fair showcases hundreds of makers at its events, and in that same spirit, it’s still highlighting makers … just online. Its new sister site features a slew of goods from local KC makers, including some nonmedical-grade masks cut and stitched right in KC. Select the “Masks KC” heading and peruse the other categories of goods and support your local makers and #ShopLocalKC.

In Springfield

Cox Health video, instructions show how to make masks

Cox Health in the Springfield area and other hospitals across Missouri are accepting masks from volunteers. Here’s a quick overview of how you can make your mask and how to donate to the cause. If you would like to donate masks you make, be sure to check with a hospital in your area for its specific needs and requirements.

Springfield quilt shop pivots to mask kits

Merrily We Quilt Along is just one of the many companies in Missouri that have pivoted to meet the need for face masks. The shop’s mask-making kits have been a big hit and are offered at a few price points. If you plan to make masks to donate, the kits are free, plus you can keep one or two for yourself. If you want to support the shop’s efforts, you can also buy a kit for $20. 

So far, hundreds of masks have gone to local health operations and firefighters. The shop keeps a running tally of donations and its limited hours on its site here.

In St. Louis

St. Louis local businesses showcase hometown pride, ingenuity

On the state’s east side, where the Big Muddy meets the Mississippi, makers are also getting crafty with some hometown mask designs that would make any St. Louisan (or fan of St. Louis) proud. While these masks likely aren’t medical-grade, buying these home- and hand-crafted wares is a great way to support local makers and incorporate them into a layered strategy with your masks that offer at least some protection. Check out a few designs here.

And then there’s fellow maker David Cervantes, who got crafty and is using his 3D printer to cut and create face shields, which can be a first-line of defense, as it fits over those much-needed N-95 masks, prolonging the dwindling supply.

And then you’ve got Salman Shah of Smile Brilliant who’s using his deep distribution network to distribute PPE to those who need it most. Read and watch those stories at KMOV.

St. Louis fashion pioneer stitches new journey making masks

When makers and fashion entrepreneurs unite, it’s a beautiful thing. St. Louis maker Michael Drummond called on a troupe of local seamstresses to help cut and stitch 14,000 masks for the medical community in just 45 days; that’s just over 300 masks a day. But they need your donations to get supplies to aid in creating these necessary PPE for those on the frontlines. Hear from Michael and donate here.

Know more stories of pivots and inspiration? Let us know here.


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