STUDIO CITY—Sunday, May 3 marked Universal Studios’ first day of furloughs for its part-time hourly employees including costume dresser Lindsey Lamson. The sewist has joined others in the production of face masks for the public and essential workers. The park closed its gates on March 13 for a temporary shutdown and remains closed at least through May 31.
“People knew I sewed so I started getting a mass amount of emails and instant messages ‘do you make masks?’ I said at first, there are so many people doing it, am I contributing or am in detriment by throwing myself into this game?”, Lamson explains.
The nation’s sudden changes and other theme park closures raised her concerns. It became more personal when a family member contracted coronavirus. She thought, “what do I need to do to help this situation?”
She recalls being in a Joanne’s fabric store the day Governor Newsom first advised the public to wear masks and follow health safety precautions. “It was overrun with people just buying literal bulks of fabric,” she thought, “this is going to be a problem for all of us who make other things other than masks!”
In her first attempt, the costume dresser made 20 masks and all of them sold out within 5 minutes online. Up to now she has produced over 400 pieces. This endeavor eventually became a 12-hour labor commitment. Customers only pay for the cost of labor and supplies. The sewist also donated 100 of them to her local post office upon discovering employees lacked face masks of better, reusable quality.
Requests for masks continue to flood Lamson’s online shop, sewitupdesigns.com, which primarily features handmade pop culture merchandise. Customers have been equally interested in all her other products, and she has had trouble keeping up with demands.
On social media, Lamson is a member of the Universal Studios costume dressers group where many have shared their mask-making experiences and requests. She is also a part of a “maker community”, which she explains is a supportive network where creators openly share materials and grow projects. “People donating. That has been the biggest and the best thing that has come out of this situation. You see the best in people and, when we decided to do it, how we’ve all come together to help each other and to help our communities.”
As for Universal’s furlough Lamson states, “I don’t have a problem with it.” She has been grateful for the company’s communication and efforts to provide for their employees throughout this experience.