On a normal day, siblings Meredith Roberts and John Rea are focused on making hardback lampshades in Meridian.
For more than 40 years, Lake Shore Studios on Northeast Industrial Park Road has manufactured for retail, commercial and hospitality customers.
On Friday, the staff of 28 people shifted their focus to help protect local healthcare workers from the spread of COVID-19, Roberts said.
“My brother was actually talking to a friend and it kind of came up that way ... and we were like, you know, this might be a way to help people out, make sure our employees can stay employed during all of this, and we knew there was a need,” Roberts said.
Local hospitals had asked the East Mississippi Business Development Corporation to reach out to existing industries for help, said Bill Hannah, the president and CEO of the EMBDC.
“Everybody's kind of jumping in, trying to figure out how they can help,” Hannah said. “It's just phenomenal. It's very uplifting to be part of it and to know them and to know that they're part of this community and have been for a long time.”
Roberts said Lake Shore Studios worked to secure supplies and Singer donated eight sewing machines.
The small business hopes to make about 3,000 polypropylene masks a day to enhance supplies at Anderson Regional Medical Center and Rush Health Systems, Roberts said.
The assembly line workforce also plans to construct protective face shields, as the machines are capable of cutting thin plastic.
The hospitals will pay for what they receive, Roberts said.
“When you realize that there is an opportunity to fulfill a need that will actually really help your community, you just can’t say no,” she said. “It’s just kind of a no-brainer. It’s something you know you need to do.”