Posted with permission from SPECTRUM NEWS 1
By Sarah Pilla - Rancho Dominguez
PUBLISHED May 07, 2020
LOS ANGELES – Producing backdrops and draperies for the entertainment industry kept Megan Duckett and her long-time staff at Sew What busy for the last 22 years.
But when the coronavirus created a domino effect of canceled events, she was forced to close her doors.
"I've got employees that have been with us for over 20 years, and never have I said to them, 'You're not getting paid this week,'" Duckett said.
But the following week she had a vision for her business: Using their products and skills to make masks.
"While there's no drapery to be made, this is our new normal, and we want to do that as successfully as we possibly can," Duckett said.
And part of that success was innovating a new product called the ear-saver system that uses different head-gear with buttons sewn on to give the wearer's ears a break from wearing a mask.
"Believe me, after 15-hour days of wearing the mask to the ear, plus my reading glasses, it gets really tiresome," Duckett said.
Her long-time friend Joey Gallagher called her to order some masks.
Right before coronavirus hit, his company, Gallagher Staging, was working on Coachella, building the main stage and custom-sets for the artists.
"The timing for this was like the perfect storm," Gallagher said. "It was really the most terrible time that this could've happened to us."
So with no entertainment events to work on, he pivoted and became one of the founding members of the Entertainment Industry Response, or E-I-R.
It's a collective of companies that normally work in the entertainment business who are ready to use their everyday skills to tackle any disaster that happens, quickly.
"If you needed something outside right now to support a homeless community," Gallagher said, "we could have a structure being built in four hours and we'd be ready to go by tomorrow morning."
When he learned that Duckett had created her ear-saver system he helped her craft a face shield that could work with the headgear.
"Just by simply going around the button here, I'm able to have a super-durable shield," explained Duckett.
The ear-saver system is not just to help everyday folks, Duckett also created a level-3 medical grade scrub hat for front-line workers.
"She's getting innovative, and that's just one company out of thousands in our industry that are doing amazing things across the globe," Gallagher said.
Despite not working in the business she's used to, Duckett feels good knowing that she could be one of the vendors helping out the EIR and helping those in need at a time when it's more important than ever.
"Everybody just took their skills and stuck them in the blender and came out with a brand new flavor," Duckett said.