What an unprecedented time we’re going through. It’s mask time in America, both physically and metaphorically.
A novel virus sweeps countries around the world and spreads to America; the full story yet untold.
Race-related protests sweep America and spreads to other countries; that full story too, yet untold.
Either event on its own would be enough; a test of our mettle and temperament. Together, they are a greater test; one that shows what we’re really made of, where we and our neighbors and friends stand, and how strong, or not, we all really are in our convictions.
More importantly, both events ask: What are we willing to learn? What are we willing to change in ourselves, the way we live, the way we think?
I believe masks are an apt metaphor in both events; the symbol of wearing masks as consideration towards others during the virus crisis, and the shedding of masks of personal belief as a real need and consideration in race relations around the world.
This post, though, is more about the former; the making of masks for the virus crisis. For me, it’s been, well, overwhelming.
Face masks and coverings are the most in-demand product in the world right now. Since I first offered to make masks, orders have come in so fast and in such numbers it’s been difficult to keep up and to keep track of it all.
It’s been an education in marketing, building an e-commerce site out of necessity, customer relations, purchasing and running for materials, shipping procedures and more, never mind getting down to the work of actually tweaking designs and making masks or creating a space in which to handle the demand.
As a one-man shop, I have not handled it well. Though I am trying my best. My days typically start early and end late, with little to no outside time other than a quick run to the fabric store or post office. One recent day started at 04:30 and ended after midnight.
“Handmade in Maine” is immensely popular. I’m now listed on Maine Manufacturers and Office of Innovation & Economic Development sites as a resource.
These sites have received requests from state and town govt’s from around the country, federal agencies, National Guard and more.
“The entire country has looked to Maine as being one place that has so much coordinated effort and responsiveness” said the director of one manufacturers association.
I’m also honored by the number of folks who’ve simply said “I want my masks to be made by Roaddude!” Thank you. I am truly flattered.
If you’ve followed my adventures and explorations around North America over the last couple years, you know I like being organized and efficient. This has been a huge test in that regard.
The Big Pause of 2020 and resulting diminished work staffs in material suppliers, payment processors, shipping agents, and more, have created material shortages, sites crashing, and delays like you wouldn’t believe, complicating things greatly.
My head spins with it all. One Blursday blends into another. I hear it is spring outside, is that true?
I appreciate the patience, understanding, and generosity everyone has shown.
One customer, on a fixed income, said “I want to overpay” and sent enough for 3x his order. Another gave me a gift card to a local coffee shop. Yet another made a hand-decorated card, the one of Marilyn in a mask that fronts this post, with a touching note inside.
My 3gen household here on the coast has been super-understanding and patient while all I do is sleep and make masks, even making an outdoor b-day evening celebration possible in the midst of it all.
I am overwhelmed. It is an unprecedented time in America and in the world. I am grateful and much appreciative for the work, the distraction, and the positive vibes from everyone.
Might be awhile before I post or respond regularly. Still lots of work to do.
Please think about masks; both the wearing of for the virus crisis as a consideration towards others, and in the sense of shedding masks of long-held beliefs.
Stay safe, stay clean, stay healthy!