WASHINGTON — Carine's Bridal Atelier was forced to physically close its doors like so many other businesses around the country as the coronavirus pandemic spreads.
For 15 years, Carine Krawiec has operated her bridal boutique, but has never experienced anything like this.
"Small businesses are a family, and you want to make sure your employees are protected the best way you can," Krawiec said.
The Georgetown bridal boutique has had to reinvent itself, offering virtual appointments to continue helping brides find their dream wedding gowns.
Krawiec and her employees wanted to do more to help their community. They heard about mask shortages, so many health care workers were facing and went to work.
"The thing that our company can do is sew, and the thing we can offer to our community is masks at this moment," Krawiec said.
Instead of altering wedding dresses, the employees are now sewing masks in the bridal shop. The operation started out modest with leftover fabric from gowns. Within days, the community donated thousands of dollars, fabric and their sewing talents.
"Everyday that I walk up to that store and I see the donations left at the door, it's just overwhelming. It's beautiful," Krawiec said.
A GoFundMe page started by the bridal shop has raised nearly $9,000. In just a few weeks, with the help of the community, the company has been able to donate about 2,000 masks to area hospitals.
Medstar Georgetown University Hospital, Children's National Hospital and area clinics have received the masks.
Moving forward, the goal is to be able to give two masks to each health care worker so they can rotate them out.
"We're hoping to make like 10,000 or 20,000 masks. We're just going to keep on going," Krawiec said.
Just like hospitals, first-responders are also facing a mask shortage. The next step for Carine's bridal is to focus on making sure area police officers and firefighters have the protection they need too.