San Francisco man turns his COVID-19 layoff into a thriving face mask business

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco costume designer Michael Petri was laid off from his day job at Chase Center during the shelter-in-place order. Weeks later he turned his love for fashion and fabric into a face covering business that is thriving.

Petri invested $1000 to buy fabric, thread and elastic and began making masks at home. He later called several of his friends and expanded.

"You know how to sew and Deena said yeah, and Moxie said Yeah and Mickey said Yeah. So we had a few of our tabletop machines and our home machines," said Petri.

The idea to keep his neighbors and friends safe during the pandemic grew into a bigger dream. Petri asked his friend, owner of Poesia Restaurant to lend them their dining area to work.

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"My friend Francesco who has the business upstairs allowed me to work in the dining room at Poesia restaurant when they cleared it and had to close down. Me and Moxie set up some tables and sewing machines and worked from the restaurant window," said Petri.

In April, the small shop opened a store front in the garage below Poesia Restaurant in the Castro.

"While this thing is very practical it's not really fashionable so I had to step up my game," said customer, Dylan Rice.

The Mask Shop now offers 60 fabrics that can be customized per customer. Prices ranging from $6 to $20.

Five months into the pandemic and now the mask shop is expanding while keeping high safety guidelines and getting tested for COVID-19 every two weeks.

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"We are thinking about doing clear glasses with a connector gator. We are doing a dining and drinking mask," said Petri.

Every thread giving them a new purpose to create during the pandemic.

"I was afraid to leave my house for the longest time and now I have somewhere to go every day and something to do," said The Mask Shop's creative, Mickey Mann.

Each customer gets fitted in-store and masks are delivered in two to three days in their Castro storefront.

"Working here as volunteer with Michael has really saved my sanity and given something to do, and made me feel like am still valued and can still contribute," said Moxie.

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