Florence fashion designer pivots to making high-quality face masks

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FLORENCE, Ala. — From breweries making hand sanitizer to restaurants converting into grocery stores, businesses across the Shoals are making changes to how they operate to better serve the community amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The same applies to clothing company, Alabama Chanin. Known for its high-end hand-sewn clothing, the business started 20 years ago with owner Natalie Chanin cutting up old t-shirts and hand-sewing them back together. Over time, the company evolved. It evolved once more when Chanin saw the impact of COVID-19 overseas.

“I have worked in textiles for a long time, so I have a lot of friends overseas and actually, one of the first places where COVID-19 began in Italy was a place called Bergamo where I spent a lot of time working,” said Chanin. “I really took it very seriously.”

She applied that seriousness to her business.

“We’ve been enacting pretty strict regulations now for over four weeks with our employees here just to be on the safe side,” said Chanin.

In that time, the company began producing reusable, non-medical grade masks for essential workers, patients, and families. The masks are made from high-quality, tightly woven, double-layered, 100 percent organic cotton. They come in a variety of colors and include an interior pocket for filter inserts.

Chanin said the response has been overwhelming.

“It just sort of exploded and so we’re pretty much full-time right now making masks,” she said.

Part of that explosion can be credited to her company’s recent mention on GQ.com’s list of places to buy face masks.

“That was last Friday—it broke our website,” Chanin said. “There were so many people on the website at once.”

Natalie said she hopes everyone can get back to their normal lives sooner than later, but for now, her team will continue making face masks to help fulfill the needs of her customers.

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