The COVID-19 pandemic has led several businesses to change their workflow entirely. For Rose Costumes employees, this workflow adjustment includes spending their days sewing masks to donate to places in need through its new movement called the “Mask Makers’ Initiative.”
The usual business has halted at Rose Costumes for the time being, causing it to focus only on making masks. The doors closed as soon as COVID-19 became prominent in the United States, as the owner saw declining business due to canceled events.
“My entire business is a crowd-based business, and so about the time that this started showing in the United States was about the time I decided it was a good idea to shut the doors, as far as costume rentals go,” said Annemarie Aldrich, Rose Costumes owner and Oak Point resident.
Rose Costumes has focused on providing masks for places that are at high risk but lacking masks, such as grocery stores and doctors offices.
The particular masks health care professionals need are having shortages throughout stores, so the mask-making initiative is to help the medical grade masks get in the hands of the right people, said Kayly Nesser, Mask Makers communication coordinator and Denton resident.
“It’s important because of the massive shortage [of masks] that is being experienced because people are afraid,” Nesser said. “The masks that health care professionals need aren’t necessarily getting into the right hands, and we want to make sure that that’s able to happen.”
In addition to making the masks to help others, she wanted to create this initiative to prevent her employees from being unemployed during the pandemic, Aldrich said.
“We have a very unique skillset and also have a unique facility where we’re able to make masks,” Aldrich said. “I’m very dedicated to my employees and in keeping them going through this and not having to push them out into the unemployment world. They’re family to me, so I want to do everything I can to keep them employed.”
Community partners have contributed to help Rose Costumes in its mask-making initiative. Explorium Denton lended five sewing machines, SCRAP Denton has provided materials and the Denton Chamber of Commerce has offered support.
Rose Costumes has been in Denton since 1976, but this is the first time they have had to restructure their business model as a result of an external factor, Aldrich said. The store is utilizing this situation and their capabilities to provide the masks to recipients without cost.
“I don’t feel right about capitalizing off of a pandemic,” Aldrich said. “These masks are totally donations only. We have such a huge list of places that need them.”
In addition to the employees of Rose Costumes working on masks, members of the community have helped make masks on the behalf Rose Costumes.
“Everything else is volunteer,” Aldrich said. “The community has been amazing about donating their time. We’re now making these mask kits that people can come pick up. Everything’s basically cut up for you. You have a pattern, take it home, sew, bring it back to us, we sanitize it and we get it off to the groups that need it.”
Making masks is a productive way for community members to get involved in the crisis response, Nesser said.
“It’s a great way, instead of feeling helpless, to channel it into something better, and we all have unique gifts that we can share, so there are a lot of ways to help,” Nesser said.
Rose Costumes employees have been able to give back and help those who are directly impacted by the virus.
“This whole thing hits close to home, and I feel like I need to, I want to contribute — I want to help the people who won’t be able to help themselves [or] people who need some amount of protection or people who have already donated their masks to go to the people on the front line,” Carrollton mask maker Daniel Bernardo said.
Rose Costumes has used this platform to serve Denton and support the community during this time of crisis.
“We love Denton and we love people,” Aldrich said. “We feel that it’s our duty as human beings. If you have the ability to help others, you do that. It’s not a question, really to any of us.”
Featured image: Courtesy Rose Costumes