Textile company shifts business model to support pandemic efforts
By Kathryn Severance, Contributing Writer
Marlborough – Sawyer Brook Distinctive Fabrics of Marlborough opened in 1974 as a woman-owned company providing seamstresses with high-quality fashion fabrics through catalogue mail orders. While ownership has since changed, the company, now owned and operated by retired tech executive, Faten Ramadan, remains a respected woman-owned fabric business, serving customers on the national and international level through their cutting-edge online website.
In early March, before CDC officials had communicated the importance of facial masks, a neighbor working for a local hospital shared facial protection needs of their fellow healthcare workers with Faten, who quickly designed and created 100 facial masks for employees at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Worcester.
Soon after, a friend at a local senior housing complex approached her and Faten created 150 additional masks, which she used to collect financial donations to support pandemic relief efforts. When an article in The Community Advocate spread the word about her efforts, the community responded with an outpouring of mask orders and monetary donations. The donations, which total a whopping $2,200 were recently distributed to the Worcester County Food Bank and another organization that provides food to families in need.
“I worked with my neighbor, one of the hospital’s anesthesiologists, to design a pattern for maximizing comfort and facial protection. I then chose materials, cut out the design, and used my sewing machine to develop each one. I did this in my spare time, while still running my business and fulfilling customer orders. I had no idea then, but this was just the beginning,” she said.
Faten, who is both the company’s owner and sole employee, also pivoted her sales model to make it more accessible for others to purchase materials to create their own masks for an affordable price. She created a special category on her website for specific fabrics and elastic materials appropriate for sewing masks and offered a special 25 percent discount on all mask-making fabrics in March.
“I never offered customers a discount on this level before, but I wanted everyone to be able to afford the materials necessary to make protective masks. I treat my customers like my family…I serve them in a way that I would hope someone would serve me,” Faten said.
Sawyer Brook also provides a service for local customers, where people can come in to get a customized pattern drawn up to fit their body measurements. This is especially helpful for those who cannot fit into traditional clothing items due to physical deformities.
Faten is hopeful that she can start receiving local customers inside the store in June should Governor Charlie Baker provide approval. Going forward, customers will be received by appointment and asked to wear a mask and gloves. She also plans to start scheduling garment fitting and sewing classes with small numbers of participants once able to open to the public again.
To learn more about their offerings, visit https://www.sawyerbrook.com.