Pivoting for the time being from their usual high-end staple shirts and denim jeans, two Richmond-based clothiers have found a way to pitch in and new revenue stream in the age of coronavirus – producing protective masks for local medical professionals.
Ledbury, a manufacturer of dressy menswear, and Shockoe Atelier, which makes denim jeans and other clothing, have in recent weeks started production of medical masks to help address protective equipment shortages that have complicated the response to the coronavirus pandemic. Both companies sell the masks to VCU Health and aim to ramp up production.
Paul Trible, a co-owner of Ledbury, said the arrangement with the health system is a way to bring the company’s skill set to bear on a community challenge.
“If there’s a way to help, we have the manpower and the expertise to do it,” he said.
The companies collectively cranked out about 1,000 masks Friday; 250 masks came from Ledbury and 780 from Shockoe Atelier. Trible said the company’s Richmond workshop is doing 250 masks a day and could increase to 500 daily. Ledbury’s European factory has started to make 2,500 masks a day this week, with the ability to scale up to as many as 10,000 a day. Neither company is making clothes at this time.
The masks are made of a polycotton blend pattern used for scrubs and tailored to VCU’s specifications. The masks are reusable and can be used alone or as a supplement to the N95 masks by placing them over the N95 mask.
For Ledbury, the pandemic prompted the closure of its three retail locations in Richmond, D.C. and New York. The company also laid off four employees. Trible felt confident the company would survive the pandemic, saying online sales are the bulk of the revenue and mask revenue helps as well.
Shockoe Atelier likewise has most of its sales come via online orders, though those have slowed recently. Between government assistance and mask revenue, Anthony felt his company would make it through the pandemic. Shockoe Atelier hired four additional people to handle mask production.
VCU Health didn’t respond to a request for comment.