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COVID-19 Layoffs Lead to New Opportunities for Local Craftspeople

Our first press release! Captured here for posterity. 

VICTORIA, BC–Four local women have built a thriving business, The Kindness Factory, manufacturing protective face masks. (

After being laid off in March due to COVID-19, Karmen McNamara heard about the shortage of PPE in Canada and began sewing reusable cloth masks on a sewing machine lent by her mother in law.

Although the masks can’t be used in a medical capacity, they take pressure off the medical mask supply chain, and create a fun alternative to the basic blue surgical masks for everyday use.

There was so much demand that she quickly recruited her friend, Shannon Graham, and two additional makers to help complete the work.

Early in BC’s Phase One of social isolation, dozens of makers stepped up to meet community demand for masks, but as they’ve returned to work and retired from mask-making, McNamara’s demand remained strong and steady.

This week the team registered their business as The Kindness Factory with an aim of keeping all four teammates employed full-time as long as demand for reusable cloth masks exists.

Says Jenny Ambrose of The Makehouse (, The Kindness Factory’s main fabric supplier: “It’s truly amazing what Karmen has built. She’s created a thriving business in an industry that didn’t even exist three months ago.”

Karmen reports, “Our makers work from home, in some cases because they are immunocompromised and cannot return to workplaces even as the rest of BC goes back to life as usual. I’m honoured to be able to provide paid, important work for these people.”

Masks are made to order and current turnaround is about two weeks. They can be ordered online at

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