BRUNSWICK — L.L.Bean employees who typically sew the iconic Bean Boots and totes started sewing Bean’s dog bed liners into medical masks on Monday, with plans for as many as 10,000 a day, most bound for MaineHealth, according to a company spokeswoman.
“Based on the properties of the material — soft, liquid resistant, durable and washable — we are working with MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and other labs to see if they can be used as surgical masks,” said Amanda Hannah, L.L.Bean’s director of external communications.
Surgical masks have been heavily in demand and difficult to find during the spread of COVID-19.
L.L.Bean CEO Stephen Smith on Monday described the dog bed liner masks on CNBC‘s “Power Lunch” as breathable and “very durable.”
“A number of our employees said, ‘Hey, we are the best stitchers, cutters and sewers,'” said Smith. “‘We make the best boots in the world … We can make masks, gowns and booties as well,’ and they immediately started experimenting.”
MaineHealth is covering the cost of the masks’ material and labor.
“It’s a great example of people coming together during this time,” said MaineHealth spokesman John Porter. “It’s great to see the community and an organization like L.L.Bean supporting us.”
He wasn’t able to get details on how the masks would be used within the hospital system before deadline.
Hannah said L.L.Bean has additionally been able to locate more than 1 million medical masks for local hospitals “leveraging our global supply chain relationships . . . at a much more reasonable price than they were able to on their own.”
Fulfillment center employees have also been packing food for local food pantries including Good Shepherd Food Bank in Auburn, she said.