LEWISVILLE — A worker carefully laid out black fabric on a large machine that, with a press of a button, translated a digital pattern to make precise cuts in various shapes.
Nearby, a team of nine seamstresses spaced out across the workroom floor meticulously sewed layers of fabric together before placing the finished product in an ever-growing pile.
The simple black-and-white assemblies will help protect those who are working to protect others.
Mitch Lurie, owner of the Leather Sofa Co. in Lewisville, together with his wife, DeAnn, decided to start producing face masks for first responders at the factory that usually creates high-end leather sofas.
“We have sewing machines, we’ve got seamstresses, we could probably make face masks,” Lurie said.
They sent the first set of masks to the oncology department at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas to be tested by the staff. The staff wore the masks for a whole day and made sure they could be washed properly. After sending their feedback to Lurie, the team of seamstresses started getting to work.
The team can produce over 2,400 face masks each day for first responders. Mitch Lurie said it is fulfilling to have the ability to give back to those who are helping the community.
“Any time you can help the local community and first responders, especially in this time of uncertainty, it makes you feel good,” Lurie said.
The company has 52 employees, showrooms in North Dallas, Frisco, Grapevine and Fort Worth, and a 59,000-square-foot retail and factory outlet facility in Lewisville.
Lurie, a former professional soccer player who moved to Texas from his native South Africa at age 25, said he loves the challenges of running his own company.
While its furniture pieces are still handmade, the factory has added computer digitized patterns for a wood router and a leather-cutting machine that are among the largest in the nation.
These days, rather than working with leather and nail heads, employees work with fabric and elastic.
The employees benefit from the effort, too. For Lurie, ensuring his staff has the ability to protect themselves is important to him.
“More so for me is having people, who could be sitting at home and not being paid, actually working,” he said. “They actually have a purpose [in the pandemic].”
He is expanding the work as word spreads about the possibilities. The Lewisville Fire Department recently asked Lurie about producing gowns for medical professionals, and he accepted the new challenge.
They started everything from scratch. And just like making masks, after the team found the best pattern and fabric, they produced 100 gowns for medical workers. While that request was one of a kind, Lurie remains open to making more gowns if needed.
Lurie wants the community to come together in whatever way they can to help during this time of uncertainty — whether it’s donating to the local animal shelter or creating face masks at home with their own sewing machines. Doing something, no matter how small, is impactful, he said.
“Try and do something because every little bit counts right now,” Lurie said
Sewing machines will continue to hum at the Leather Sofa Factory, but face masks of simple fabric will usurp production of top-of-the-line leather sofas for now.