Five days ago, Lindsey Matthews shared a photo of herself on Facebook sporting a homemade face mask she sewed. She now has 500 orders to fill.
“I’m being contacted by nurse after nurse after nurse,” she said, “saying they need these masks, and please, can I send them?”
It all began when Matthews decided to research how to make a homemade face mask online, since she didn’t want to try and purchase any and take away supply to frontline workers who need them. Matthews discovered instructions from a doctor in the Philippines, who gave a breakdown on how a good homemade mask can be made with materials in the home.
The instructions called for two layers of cotton with a lining on the inside for a filter. Several layers of paper towel or a coffee filter can work, but Matthews said she’s been using a furnace filter.
“I made a bunch of prototypes,” said Matthews, adding her 10-year-old daughter has been a huge help. “We kept going until we were like, ‘Oh yeah, this one is really comfortable!’”
She then started private messaging friends to show them her work, several of whom are nurses, and it exploded from there.
“After some gentle nudging from friends and family, I was like, ‘Well, I’ll post something on my personal page.’ It wasn’t shareable, but it kind of blew up right away,” said Matthews.
Orders have now come from as far away as Alberta.
With the support of local businesses including Bad Tattoo Brewing, Ramada Penticton, Arterra Wines Canada (Great Estates Okanagan), Save on Foods’ Penticton location and Cherry Tree Quilts in Summerland, Matthews has enough to fill her current orders.
Cherry Tree Quilts, she added, set her up with a sewing machine, material and other supplies, all for free.
But Matthews hopes further donations from the community will help her get ahead of orders as she prepares for more to flood in, while putting less strain on smaller local businesses who are giving everything out of pocket during an already difficult time financially.
“It gives me the tingles to think how amazing it is,” she said of the donations she’s received. “I’ve also been able to bring on an additional seamstress.”
Matthews said it takes approximately 25 minutes to sew a facemask, which has to be sturdy enough to be washed in between uses. Working upwards of six to seven hours a day, she and her friend hope to make approximately 50 a day.
Anyone who wishes to donate material or funds can email Matthews at firstname.lastname@example.org