We’ve made 24,000 face masks in three weeks
A CAIRNS sewing factory has created a full-time production line and employed extra staff to meet demands for face masks.
Dream Sewing Supplies has made 24,000 face masks since the second wave of coronavirus hit Victoria about July 13.
When the virus first struck in March, owner Anthony Sandford brought in staff from the Looksmart Alteration shops owned by his wife Chantha at the Cairns Central, Smithfield and Earlville shopping centres and put them to work making masks.
"We started making masks under a production line format, which vastly increased our capacity," he said.
"When things started coming back to normal, we were able to bring staff back to the shopping centres and we were left with a big stockpile of masks.
"So we shifted to making things like medical scrubs, hospital gowns and head coverings.
"Then all of a sudden three weeks ago, the second outbreak happened in Victoria and we had a big surge in requests for face masks.
"Our shelves looked like the toilet aisles in Woolworths, completely cleaned out, so we had to pump up production again, putting on six new staff members.
"We now have 10 staff working 12-15 hour days, seven days a week."
Mr Sandford said the staff had been supporting each other through the long shifts by bringing in share platters and going on pizza runs.
Dream Sewing Supplies has been producing bulk orders of over 200 masks for big companies.
Mr Sandford said while the bulk of the orders had come from Melbourrne, Sydney and Tasmania, there had also been orders from Cairns.
"We have a number of local stores here that stock our products," he said.
"I've heard people are coming in, buying off them and posting them to family and friends down south.
"They could also be stocking up now for if things take a turn for the worse here."
Mr Sandford said they were starting to run short on supplies such as elastic and worried it could be difficult for smaller manufacturers.
"We source internationally, but a lot of others don't have that capacity," he said.
Spotlight Cairns team leader Amy Brown said every second customer had been buying supplies to make their own masks.
"The main things people are buying are elastic, fabric and any layers of filtering we can supply.
"I've also seen people picking arts and crafts, DIY stuff for in case they have to go into lockdown again.
"People are feeling like it's inevitable now."
Ms Brown said they weren't yet worried about any shortages, as materials were still coming in reliably every day.
Originally published as We've made 24,000 face masks in three weeks