Community Stories

When life hands you lemons… make fabric masks!

April 17, 2020

At a time when many people are working from home, or not working at all, there isn’t much demand for dry cleaning and tailoring services.

No one knows that more than Jamin Soehn, owner of Classic Cleaners & Tailors in Red Deer.

“From a numbers perspective I would say we’ve seen a well over 90 per cent drop,” says Soehn. “Eventually we were down to just one employee from twelve.”

But instead of turning off the sewing machines and closing up shop, Soehn and his wife did what many business owners have been forced to do amidst COVID-19. They pivoted and found a way to help the community while putting some of their employees back to work.

“It’s kind of killing two birds with one stone. Getting people working and getting people rallying together and supporting the community,” says Soehn.

After the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Canadian health authorities endorsed the use of masks or face coverings for people in public places, Soehn decided to make the switch from cleaning and sewing clothes... to sewing masks.

“It kind of resonated with us because we have the infrastructure and the talent to be able to produce these masks.”

In the last two weeks, Classic Cleaners has produced over 160 cotton masks and hired back three seamstresses to sew them. The masks were donated to local social agencies including The Mustard Seed, The Red Deer Food Bank Society and Central Alberta Women’s Outreach Society. The company is also selling masks to businesses and individuals, while continuing to donate one mask for each one sold. The goal is to ramp up production to 150 units per day and hire back more staff.

“We had orders for about four hundred come in today alone, so if that keeps up I’m going to have to approach one or two more,” says Soehn. “It feels great, not only to help the community but also to get Red Deerians and central Albertans working again.”

For more information or to place an order, call Classic Cleaners & Tailors at 403-347-5959 or visit

Woman sewing a face maskWoman sewing a face mask