That Face Shield Might Have Been Made in a Party Space

Last spring, Manhattan’s meatpacking district was hopping with fashionable motels, rooftop cocktail lounges, luxurious boutiques, overpriced brunch spots and nightclubs with velvet ropes.

This spring, a refurbished loft with white-painted brick partitions and a chef’s kitchen was speculated to be a part of the scene. It would function a high-end showroom and co-working area by day and an unique occasion venue by evening.

That didn’t occur.

Instead, the three,100-square-foot area, on the fourth flooring of a constructing referred to as Little Flatiron due to its resemblance to the 23rd Street landmark, reinvented itself as a manufacturing facility for private protecting gear, or P.P.E.

“For us, the monumental task has been, how do you get a factory up and running within a week?” stated Sam Payrovi, chief government of Consortium, the corporate in cost of changing the loft into a manufacturing facility, implementing protected working circumstances and hiring individuals to churn out medical gear as quickly as attainable.

The initiative, coordinated by town’s Economic Development Corporation, is considered one of many the company has undertaken to supply face shields, surgical robes and, quickly, take a look at kits for Covid-19.

Designer cushioned chairs have been stacked and pushed to the aspect and blankets draped over eating tables the place newly employed staff, making $15 an hour, are assembling face shields. Made of clear, versatile plastic, the shields may be worn over surgical masks, offering further safety.

And whereas the loft on the intersection of 14th Street, Ninth Avenue and Hudson Street could also be an unlikely setting for an assembly-line operation harking back to these from World War II, equally stunning is the building’s colorful history.

They must sterilize all newly assembled shields, bag them, box them and put the boxes on pallets that are then shrink-wrapped. Workers carry the pallets down to trucks owned by the fashion discount chain Century 21, which is volunteering them for the cause.

Irene Justiniani, who was born and raised in Mexico and has spent most of her adult life working in New York’s hospitality industry, now reports here daily.

Before the pandemic, she was the beverage manager at the nearby see-and-be-seen French bistro, Pastis. She and others were first furloughed, then laid off.

“In the beginning, we had hope our jobs would be waiting for us,” she said. “Now we don’t know what will happen.”

As the designated factory cook, Ms. Justiniani prepares lunch for workers so they don’t have to leave the building during their break.

Although Ms. Justiniani said she is not earning as much as she did in her previous job, she is grateful to be working. “It definitely helps,” she said. “It helps a lot.”

Consortium, a tech platform that connects makers of custom fashion accessories with retail stores, has a network of manufacturers and suppliers that has enabled the company to get the face-shield undertaking up and running.

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