PressPraise for Sewn for Good
In Icepack’s continuing saga of asking mask-donning local celebrities what they’ve been up to, beyond the pale, during COVID-19’s pandemic, I reached out this week to Janice Martin, the owner of the famed, Ardmore-based Janice Martin Couture and her Sewn for Good LLC.
Beloved for her evening and wedding gowns, Ms. Martin – with a business struck by COVID and the dwindled number of public nuptials and tony private events – laid back, but for a second, to get some lessons and play golf.
“I played more golf in the fall than I usually do and hope to start playing in the early spring again,” said Martin.
“It was nice to be outside for a safe, socially-distanced activity. I also spun off a new passion project, to keep busy and do my part making masks for family, friends and long-time customers.”
Martin designed and donated 5,000-plus face masks to local medical personnel and infectious disease specialists working with COVID patients, to homeless shelters, Cradles to Crayons, and senior living facilities, as well as designing and producing “VOTE” scarves to raise funds for the nonpartisan League of Women Voters.
How Janice Martin’s small business navigated the pandemic
In any city, suburb or small town, there are a variety of businesses operating, some big and some small. Although all businesses are an essential part of keeping an economy up and running, small businesses certainly are vital in keeping small communities alive—something that was overlooked before the pandemic hit, but after COVID-19, it’s something that is on the forefront of most people’s minds.
The aspect of small businesses that sets them apart from corporations are the people who run them. Each venue or service provider wasn’t just started as part of a chain to keep the money flow going for a big-time company, most of the time they were started from a passion or a love and grew to become much more than just a venture for those who open them.
For Janice Martin, owner of Janice Martin Couture and Sewn For Good LLC, her business has not only pivoted during the pandemic to help itself sustain financially, but it has also shifted to help mitigate the PPE problem our country has faced and continue to provide not only necessary but also quality supplies for many who desperately need it.
SAVVY Main Line
From pussy scarves to PPE, Ardmore bridal couturier pivots again
When her couture business fell off the covid cliff in mid-March, designer Janice Martin (above) could easily have pressed pause. No one would have begrudged her the R & R. She’d been creating bespoke wedding gowns on Cricket Ave. nonstop since 2005 and running a private label cause-related company since 2017.
Instead, in a classic pandemic pivot, she started stitching face masks. But, true to her couture roots, Martin’s masks would stand out – and not just for their interesting fabrics.
With N95 and surgical-grade masks easily soiled, uncomfortable to wear, and in short supply during the pandemic, Martin endeavored to build a better mouse trap.
COVID Couture: Designer Donates Mask Covers
For providers on the front line of the fight against COVID-19, a N95 mask is essential protective equipment. These masks, however, can be difficult to wear for the many hours they are needed.
Enter Janice Martin, a couture designer in Ardmore who was already ahead of the curve. In 2018, she had established Sewn For Good, an adjunct passion project that creates cause-related clothing and accessories.
When Martin learned of the shortage of medical protective wear and masks in the fight against COVID, she jumped into action. With established ties to industry sourcing and Jefferson University (which incorporates the former Philadelphia College of Textiles & Science), Martin designed a cloth mask cover to extend the life of surgical grade masks and make them more comfortable to wear.
She then canvassed the tri-state area to locate newly unemployed industrial seamstresses to make them for hospitals in need.
“When this crisis first hit, our business basically came to a standstill,” explains Martin. “So, several home sewers and I began making masks for ourselves and a few friends.
Meet the Ardmore Bridal Designer Making Silk Pussy Power Scarves
Under her label Sewn For Good, Janice Martin is turning placards from political rallies into wearable pieces of protest art.
Main Line Times
Women’s March scarves featured in Main Line Times
When Janice Martin looked at a computer screen of pictures she’d taken at the 2017 Women’s March in Washington, D.C., all the colorful protest signs reminded her of a quilt.
“The placards were so creative and pithy,” she said.
The idea for a quilt would not be unusual for Martin, a premier custom dressmaker who designs and sews bespoke wedding dresses, evening wear and elegant suits in her Cricket Avenue shop in Ardmore. She lives and breathes sewing and fabrics.