Sisters Kim Coates (left, above) and Liz Willis (right) are co-founders of KIZZI Dancewear in Austin, Texas. They typically make dance costumes, yet have quickly shifted production and now make cloth masks to protect medical workers (and anyone else at risk) to reduce the spread of coronavirus. They ask for a voluntary $8 to $10 donation to cover production and shipping costs, yet no request for a mask will be denied. They have fulfilled orders for as few as two masks and also orders for thousands of masks. This program began March 24th, the same day that the Austin mayor ordered “Shelter in Place.”
On April 7, 2020 the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommended that everyone should wear masks in public. This increased the demand for masks exponentially. They are currently producing 500 double layer cotton masks, with a pocket for a filter, per day. Coates says that although they are crazy busy every day, with no immediate end in sight, she’s grateful to be able to continue to employ her staff and is continuously amazed at the outpouring of community support.
The increase in demand for masks prompted Coates and Willis put out a call to Austin Community volunteers. Nineteen Kizzi employees and 40 volunteer seamstresses are involved in the effort. Home sewers create the main body of the mask, and then Kizzi completes the finished product and delivers to hospitals, doctors offices, veterinary hospitals, nursing care facilities, and where ever else they are needed.
KIZZI has also been refurbishing a batch of coveted N-95 masks by sewing on new elastic straps to keep them in place. These masks deteriorated in warehouse storage, making them useless without KIZZI’s help. The company delivers approximately 1,000 refurbished N-95 masks per day. Through word of mouth, hospital administrators and other medical personal continue to solicit KIZZI support for new projects such as surgical caps and ICU gowns. In less than three weeks, KIZZI completely shifted their dance costume business to meet the requested demands and help protect the local community.
If you’d like to support KIZZI’s mission, you can make a donation via the company’s Go Fund Me page.