When Hong Kong’s famed fabric shops stopped getting customers because of Covid-19, they came up with a creative solution.
Hong Kong is known for its world-class tailors and alteration shops, but with the coronavirus keeping most people indoors, these stores have seen their business dwindle.
To stay afloat, many of them have come up with a novel solution: making DIY masks out of fabric.
As demand for facial protection rises amid the Covid-19 pandemic, fabric shops in the working-class neighborhood of Sham Shui Po have shifted to selling cloth masks.
Garment workers who would normally cut curtains, trim jeans, and patch up clothes are now using their stock to make masks.
Some are even sending customers home with templates so that they can sew their own masks at home.
Li Qingqing, who runs Helen Best Alteration Shop in Sham Shui Po, says her revenue has gone up by almost a third since she began selling cloth masks at the start of the outbreak in Hong Kong in February.
“My most important source of income has been masks,” she says.
Sham Shui Po is one of Hong Kong’s poorest neighborhoods, comprising mostly working-class families, migrant workers, and senior citizens.
Homes in the neighborhood are small, old, and cramped. Some apartments have been subdivided to house up to six times the number of people they were designed to hold.
(Read more: Surviving the coronavirus in a 6-by-3-foot ‘cage home’)
Some shops, such as Li’s, have donated cloth masks or sold them at a lower rate to local nursing homes and nonprofit organizations.
“My biggest hope is that I can help many people,” Li says.