Made in the Northwest: Royal Upholstery making masks to aid COVID-19 response

SPOKANE, Wash. – Royal Upholstery has been in business in Spokane since 1957. Owner Krista Featherstone started helping out with the family business when she was nine years old.

“We’re just living the upholstery dream,” Featherstone laughed.

The company can handle all kinds upholstery work.

“We upholster furniture, boats, cars. We do a lot of commercial industry,” explained Featherstone. “We also distribute upholstery supplies to other upholstery shops in the Pacific Northwest.”

In the midst of this coronavirus crisis, the Spokane Fire Department recently asked Royal Upholstery if they could start making masks. And the company jumped at the opportunity to help the community.

“The nice thing is that we can make anything. We’re professional sewers,” said Featherstone. “So we said, ‘Yes, we can make them.'”

In order to make that happen, the company bought 20,000 yards of elastic and 1,500 yards of dust cloth fabric.

“We estimate we could make 15,000 masks easily, if not more, with the products that we bought,” said Featherstone.

Royal Upholstery now has four of its 13 employees making masks full-time. Featherstone thinks they can make up to 1,000 a day.

“We’re just going to crank them out as fast as we can.”

It’s important to note the dust cloth is not a medical grade fabric.

But Featherstone says, “It is still a protective barrier between yourself and another person. And it is pliable and soft and comfortable to wear.”

The masks can also be cleaned.

“They can be soaked in bleach. They are machine washable and dryable as well.”

Royal Upholstery is also working on a prototype for gowns that it may start making soon.

“We don’t know who will need them or how many would be needed, but we wanted to be prepared with that and we were encouraged to be prepared with that,” said Featherstone.

The company is selling its masks individually in the store. They can also be ordered by the hundreds.

“I have been talking with big corporations, as well as other cities that are interested in them,” said Featherstone.

Royal Upholstery is still doing its typical upholstery work for now, but Featherstone says that can wait if more masks are needed.

“If our community needs us to make masks right now, that’s what we want to do.”

The company is glad to be playing a small role in finding solutions to flatten the curve of the coronavirus.