Before the crisis, she spent her time in her restaurant. Since then, she spends her days behind her sewing machine, manufacturer of masks which she distributes in particular to hospitals, including Brooklyn Methodist Hospital – NewYork-Presbyterian recently.

Sandrine Dos Santos, owner of Ratatouille restaurant, located in Midtown in Manhattan, expatriated in New York for more than 20 years, this is not her first boss: fifteen years spent in fashion as a designer and then creative director have left her with some reflexes. " I have always been passionate about fashion. When I'm not at the restaurant, I make dresses. When I closed the restaurant I saw that masks were missing everywhere and I had a lot of scraps of fabric and always my sewing machine on hand Says the restaurateur.

After posting her latest work on Facebook in late March, she is contacted by a European community in New Rochelle, one of the centers of the COVID-19 epidemic in the United States. " They ordered 150 masks for a hospital. It was gone! "

Here she is back for good behind her sewing machine, " between 6 to 8 hours a day, it's a rhythm to keep " She manufactures masks on the chain, " in a factory style, simple but effective for making large numbers quickly, with two layers of fabric and a pocket for sliding a filter, a Swiffer dry wipe which has good absorption ”.

The masks are distributed free of charge and as a priority to hospital staff, notably thanks to the LIC MASKS association, based in Long Island City, which now has more than a hundred seamstresses in its ranks. " We have people who come directly to our facebook wall; they ask for coats, hats for doctors, it’s unimaginable, they’re desperate. We receive messages like this: my husband is a doctor and he has been wearing the same mask for a week "

Lenox hill hospital staff. Photo credit: LIC Masks Facebook

The association works like a small business, where everyone helps in their own way. " We exchange materials, patterns, tips, but also orders: there was one for NYPD (New York Police Department), I took it because I had the right, masculine, slightly dark fabric. We have volunteer couriers who come to get the masks and who dispatch them ”.

The small business works closely with New York City to help hospital staff. " We collect their N95 or FFP2 masks and give them fabric masks instead. Then we send the surgical masks back to the hospitals, a lot in the Queen "

On the other hand, it continues to supply individuals, who help it finance its approach. “I received a lot of support from the start. People donate 5, 10, 50 and even 200 dollars for a few masks, or no mask at all. Sophie Demenge, French co-founder of the children's furniture and clothing brand OEUF also sent me fabric "

If the workload is substantial, the restaurateur is proud to lend a hand. " I found myself a bit in there like that, but I'm happy to help. I kept all my scraps of cloth like a grandmother, and voila!, I once heard a priest in Harlem who said: if we have a talent, a gift, we must share it. I want to share my gift today, use it "


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