It Takes a Team
by Gavin Sullivan, Lighthouse Uniform
One of the inspiring aspects of the King County Medical Society's mobilization of PPE has been the collaborative approach of community and local business leaders to develop from scratch a complex and homegrown manufacturing solution to meet the acute local demand for personal protective equipment.
Spearheaded by Lighthouse Uniform, a Seattle-based family-owned company that started on Pier 36 during World War II to service soldiers and medics, Lighthouse continues outfitting Nautical Armed Forces, Fire Departments, Merchant Marines, and EMTs nationwide. Lighthouse was able to unite with Mukilteo-based Kaas Industries to develop the patterns and material requirements for both the KCMS surgical masks and surgical gowns. Within a week, Lighthouse sourced out U.S. manufactured Level 4 fabric for the gowns, while KCMS requested and received donated single-use surgical wrap from regional hospitals and clinics for the masks. THANK YOU!
With fabric in hand, local outfitter, Outdoor Research provided the vital service of cutting the material on the industrial-scale required to meet the surging need for PPE. Despite having a new supply chain up and running, one critical component remained: Sewing this all together!
The outpouring of support and camaraderie from the local tailoring community has been awe-inspiring. Fortunately through Lighthouse's decades of experience working with a decentralized network of professional and independent tailors around the Puget Sound, and KCMS's commitment to compensate for their tedious labor, the KCMS Tailor Network was born.
To date, this dedicated team comprised of world-class tailors from the Pacific Northwest Ballet, the Seattle Opera, to Mom and Pop tailoring and alteration businesses, to aspiring professionals from Seattle Central College's Apparel Design and Development program, and on down to retired hobbyists this group has produced over 100,000 surgical face masks, and 2,000 Level 4 gowns. All this is in just a little over two months! In demonstrating the effectiveness of this solution, the fine folks at GORE (W.L. Gore & Associates Inc.) have stepped up and donated 10,000 yards of their high-quality Gore-Tex fabric to be cut by Outdoor Research, and sewn into 4,500 additional gowns by the KCMS Tailor Network.