Montalvo on Montana has been sizing residents with custom-made shirts and suits since 1988, but the longtime menswear store has recently begun stitching masks, which will soon be used by local first responders.
Like many businesses owners throughout the westside, the Astanboos family has felt the effects of COVID-19 and the safer-at-home restrictions that called for the closure of essential businesses like Montalvo on Montana.
“We were panicking as a family because we didn’t know how we are going to even make ends meet like a lot of families are at this time financially and employment-wise,” Nader Astanboos said Friday in an interview with his brother Naseer Astanboos.
“Before COVID happened, we’ve been very blessed to stay in business, but the second COVID hit, it was like the entire neighborhood came to a stop,” Naseer said. “I’m looking outside the window of my tailoring shop right now and it’s a ghost town. There’s nobody. The clock store across the street is closed and the nail salon place, which has always had business, is shut down. So, speaking as somebody who runs a business, it was a very scary time for everybody.”
When the pandemic first gained notoriety from the public, the Astanboos decided they would make masks as a way to keep the family business afloat.
“It’s a very basic idea to do, especially when you’re already in the tailoring business and have access to the finest cotton,” Naseer said. “And my brother and I both grew up on movies and comic books and stuff so I thought making a mask would be cool, you know — like Spider-Man.”
Initially, the business didn’t receive many orders for the mask, but Montalvo soon saw an explosion in demand after state officials instructed residents to cover their face while out in public. Orders would soon come flooding in from local businesses, according to Nader. Now, the city of Santa Monica is set to receive thousands of masks that will be given to local police officers and firefighters, and Nader is in discussion with other municipalities who are in need of masks.
“We want to give as many people in Santa Monica access to these masks as possible, so we’ve been working around the clock to get everything up and running.” Nader said. “We’ve been so overwhelmed that I’ve been outsourcing everything that I can to people who’ve been affected by (pandemic) right now. And since we can’t have people working that close together (and) the factories are closed right now because of the regulations, I’ve set up remote sewers who all have just been sitting on their hands for a week because they don’t have any work.”
In the beginning with the “buy-one-donate-one drive”, it was really wonderful to see so many people in the community respond to help and it really makes the job a joy right now, Naseer added, “because we’re all like, ‘OK, this is our purpose. This is what we’re doing,’ and it’s been a wonderful thing to be a part of.”
For more information, call (310) 828-7748.