Craig Conover From ‘Southern Charm’ Rallies to Make Masks and Donates Pillow Proceeds to Frontline Workers

Craig Conover from Southern Charm announced that his company Sewing Down South is ramping up production to create masks and gowns. He also plans to donate the proceeds from products to help those fighting the COVID-19 (coronavirus) epidemic on the frontlines.

The attorney-turned-textile-entrepreneur defied the odds when he took a leap of faith and launched Sewing Down South, deciding to design pillows instead of pursuing a full-time career as a lawyer. His pillow business took off and had just celebrated its first year in business when the pandemic struck.

Craig Conover
Craig Conover | Photo courtesy of Sewing Down South

Conover and Jerry Casselano, CEO and co-founder of Sewing Down South, talked about their plan with Showbiz Cheat Sheet. They said those who purchase a Sewing Down South product will help in their donation efforts to frontline healthcare workers.

Conover explains that making masks and gowns isn’t just a simple sewing process

Fans hoped Conover might consider sewing masks to help combat COVID-19. But switching from being a pillow manufacturer to creating surgical masks and gowns isn’t so simple.

“It’s been a frustrating process because I love everyone’s enthusiasm for it, but the problem is that you just can’t make medical equipment,” Conover explains.

Conover wants to make sure he’s creating a product that follows specific guidelines and meets the right needs. He sees how others are purchasing fabric and sewing masks. “I like how everyone’s sewing masks, but the problem is, it’s a very advanced disease, and it’s very small particles and without an actual N95 mask, it just doesn’t stop the virus,” he reminds fans.

“What we’ve been doing is researching ways we can still efficiently, and for the best use of our time and money, help out,” Conover continues. “So what the surgeon general said is making regular masks helps to free up those N95 masks for people who are actually dealing with COVID.”

“We’re also going to be making reusable hospital gowns and masks that are colorful and bright and bring a little bit of personality into the hospital or just people in their general lives,” he says. He adds the line should help people from spreading the virus, but likely won’t help people from becoming infected.

This is how the masks and gowns can be used

Casselano stressed that the masks are not going to be surgical or medical grade. “They’re not medical grade so they’re not going to keep people from getting infected,” he emphasized. “But it’s more of keeping the spread from going. So the manufacturers we utilize and work with, all the sewers, the local governments. Some potential frontline workers. Doctors aren’t going to wear this. But if ‘Joe’ and ‘Jan’ wanna wear [a mask] and go to the grocery store, that’s kind of another way to go about it.”

He says the reusable gowns are medical grade. “We’re obviously not at the point where we are big enough to donate everything,” Casselano continues. “So we are doing it at cost. If any hospitals or governments are looking for that, at hiyall@sewingdownsouth, they can reach out there.” Casselano adds that he hopes masks and gowns will be available in the next two to three weeks, but the timeline remains fluid.

The company is donating product proceeds to frontline workers.

Conover says his new line was supposed to launch but is being put on hold during the crisis. However, the nursery line rolled out and is available for pre-order.

“The other side of what we’re doing is we’re going live with a selection of four of our nursery line pillows that are coming out,” Casselano says. The pillows are now all pre-order due to the pandemic. He estimates orders will hopefully be sent out mid-to-late May with proceeds going to frontline workers. “So if we can get food delivered to hospitals for healthcare workers, we’re going to be doing that,” Casselano shares. “We’re trying to put our focus on sustaining the frontline staff versus trying to get surgical masks to those people in general.”

Conover says April 1 was the company’s anniversary. “So we just want to bring a positive outlook to everything. And for the next week, at least, proceeds of the sales from everything on our website are going towards things for the frontline,” he says. “Whether that is us buying PPE’s (personal protective equipment) for them that they need, or catering lunches and dinners. We just want to uplift them. It’s something we can root for and we like to root for other people.”