Perennials Fabrics makes reusable masks for young patients, frontline workers in wake of coronavirus shortage

by Liz

One of the “wow” moments we had when we were getting to know our partners at Perennials Fabrics and Rugs came the first time we saw someone spill red wine on one of their fabrics.

You can just blot it up and use bleach to clean off any remnants. It really is as easy as it looks in the video. Hence the tagline: “Live fearlessly.” 

That phrase has taken on new meaning as Perennials employees have pivoted their operations to make fabric masks for frontline workers and pediatric patients to help overcome shortages related to COVID-19.

The Dallas-based company is donating the masks to Children’s Medical Center Dallas, UT Southwestern Medical Center and Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART).

Four fabric masks in various colors are lined up, one on top of another.
Perennials turned their colorful, performance fabrics into masks.

Perennials masks can be reused and repeatedly washed with bleach, elongating the lifespan of the masks themselves, as well as the medical-grade N95 masks that they’re designed to fit over and protect. They’re made both for healthcare personnel and essential workers and for young patients at Children’s Medical Center, who need protection as they undergo treatments – like chemotherapy – that are unrelated to coronavirus.

Recognizing the dire need, Perennials and sister company Sutherland Furniture overhauled their operations so they could help protect those on the front lines in North Texas as COVID-19 cases in the area started to grow.

Workers at Perennials’ operations in Mexico keep a safe distance as they make masks.
Workers at Perennials’ production facility in San Luis Potosi, Mexico keep a safe distance as they make masks.

Their teams are part of a groundswell of people churning out fabric masks – from individuals dusting off their sewing machines to fashion designer Christian Siriano, who moved aside gowns in his studio in order to make masks in the heart of New York City, hard-hit by the pandemic. 

Like all of their products, Perennials’ masks are made with 100% solution-dyed acrylic fiber, making them naturally resistant to mold, mildew and bacteria.

The only difference with the fabrics they’re using for the masks and those you’d use to decorate your home is that the masks haven’t been treated with a NanoSeal finish, a specialized coating that makes liquid bead up and rinse off with water.

Seeing red wine roll right off a cushion covered in Perennials’ fabric is truly a difference-maker for interior designers, but that final step isn’t necessary for the masks, which can still be cleaned easily with bleach.

A DART police officer wearing a mask and holding bags of other masks stands in front of his patrol vehicle on a clear, blue day.
A DART police officer collects masks made by Perennials.

Once Perennials decided to shift operations, they refined patterns, adapted workspaces and instituted checks to make sure workers were fever-free upon entering their facilities. They reconfigured their warehouses in a matter of days – not only here in Texas but also in Mexico and India – so staff could work while maintaining social-distancing guidelines.

Now, they’re producing hundreds of masks a day.

The idea of being able to “live fearlessly” seems out of reach in many ways these days, but it’s reassuring to know that young patients and the essential workers who protect us can do so more easily. 

It’s just the latest “wow” moment from the team at Perennials.