From formal wear to face masks

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Formal Fantasy has sewn and sold formal wear in Stillwater for the past 21 years, but this spring, it halted production for a new undertaking: mask making.

Because of COVID-19 and the subsequent statewide closure of non-essential businesses, Formal Fantasy had to close its doors to prom-goers and soon to be brides. But owner Stacia Smith didn’t take the time to simply rest. 

“Stillwater Medical Center announced that they were asking for seamstresses to make masks,” Smith said. “There was a way for me and my staff to help the community.”

Not allowing Stillwater’s Shelter in Place order to halt production entirely, Formal Fantasy has created and donated over 350 masks to SMC. 

To help pay for the fabric and cost of each mask, Formal Fantasy fills mask orders for businesses in Stillwater. For every mask Formal Fantasy sells, they donate one to Stillwater Medical Center. 

“We originally started this as the donation drive, and we’ve only moved to selling them to help us buy more fabric to give more donations,” Smith said.

Smith employs four part-time employees who have been helping to craft the masks. They use the pattern that the Stillwater Medical Center requested, which includes an accordion pleated mask with four layers of cotton and a tie string. 

Each masks takes around 20 to 25 minutes to create. 

 “We’re not selling anything other than masks,” Smith laughed. “It’s been really nice for us to use our abilities to still help the community.”

For members of the community that are purchasing masks, they also offer masks with elastic ear loops and in a various of colors and designs. Smith explained that they want to provide people a broad variety.

“We did have a couple of businesses place large orders for their staffs, which was really exciting,” Smith said.

According to a report by the U.S. Public Interest group, the price of face masks has increased 166% from the average price. The scarcity of masks and increased costs has been a strain on hospitals nationwide.

Citizens like Smith and her staff are helping to fill that need, and the bulk mask orders from local business allow Formal Fantasy to donate more masks to SMC.  

“When the suggestion came out to have their staff members wear masks, [local businesses] called us and talked with us about bulk orders,” Smith said.

The support from the community has increased Formal Fantasy’s ability to donate to SMC. Individuals looking to purchase a mask can call Formal Fantasy and place an order or buy them from local shops such as Charlie’s Discount Drug. 

Formal Fantasy sells the masks for $15 each and offers a $5 discount on orders of four or more.

Due to Stillwater’s continued encouragement of Shelter in Place policies, Formal Fantasy will continue to operate by phone call and appointment. 

“We will continue to make masks as the community needs it,” Smith said.