A family-owned dry cleaning business has turned its Mosaic District location into a “little mask factory,” one of its owners says.
Dianne Lee and her husband Je Kang run The Press at 2985 District Ave, along with the three locations in D.C.
Lee told Tysons Reporter that they started preparing for the coronavirus in February. Now, they are busy making handmade masks.
People who stop by the Mosaic District location can see the employees sewing through the window.
They have donated them to Children’s National Hospital, police stations, leasing companies and more. So far, they’ve been prioritizing giving masks to the hospitals first. People can email them requests — even if the request is as small as one, two or three.
“We went from making 50-100 masks a day to 500-800 masks a day now,” Lee said.
The Press posted on Instagram on April 20 that it has donated more than 3,000 masks.
Lee said her husband, who studied rare and infectious diseases, “was just really adamant about making sure that everyone in the community has a mask.”
“We’ve gotten phone calls from moms,” Lee said, adding that they decline offers to buy masks. Instead, they give them out for free and rely on a fundraiser to pay for supplies.
Lee said the pivot to masks has kept their employees busy since the demand for laundering and dry cleaning services has dropped. “We saw a 90% decrease in sales at one point,” she said.
Clients can still have their clothes cleaned. Lee said she’s encouraging people to use their home delivery service. People can do curbside pick-up and drop-off at the Mosaic District location.
“There is more wash and fold these days,” Lee said. “We’ve seen more designer sweatpants.”
Following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Lee said that they don’t touch the items that need to be cleaned for a while, which makes the process take a few extra days.
“We ask customers if they have been exposed [to the virus] and have waiver forms,” she said.
Lee hopes that when the stay-at-home orders get lifted in the D.C. area that the dry cleaning business will bounce back.
“People will hopefully be going out and wearing more clothes,” she said.
But until then, they’ll keep making masks.
“We transformed our location into a little mask factory,” Lee said.