Mask Up, RVA: U-Fab

Do it for others. Do it for love. Do it for kindness. We don’t really care why you do it — just Mask Up, RVA. Sporting a facemask isn’t political, it’s smart. It shows self-discipline and a commitment to your community. That’s why we’ve teamed up with photographer Nick Davis to launch the “Mask Up, RVA” series. We’re combining powerful images and words that Davis has collected from local, small businesses responsible for creating a variety of face shields and face masks that are helping us push through the current pandemic. These are the people who roll up their sleeves during a crisis. These are the people who proactively find solutions and look for ways to use their unique talents. These are the people that give us no excuse not to mask up. 

Photo by Nick Davis

With that in mind, let’s meet Kelsey Spicer of U-Fab Upholstery and Fabric Stores Inc. Family owned and operated, U-Fab has specialized in all things fabric for the home for over 12 years. The growing local business has a location in Richmond’s near west end and on Ivy Road in Charlottesville. They offer in-home measuring and consultation services plus a full line of custom furniture. Then, VCU Health called.

Take it away, Kelsey! 

Please describe your business model prior to the current health crisis and how it has evolved in recent months. 

Kelsey: We primarily sell high-quality furniture and home decor fabrics for the home. We also have our own workrooms where we do custom sewing, draperies and re-upholstery.  In early April we were approached by VCU Health to see if we were able to help produce masks as they had a critical shortage. Within a day we converted all of our seamstresses, most of our upholsterers along with our entire sales and management team to full time mask production.

How many masks have you created?

Kelsey: We lost count a while ago, but I believe to date we have produced around 70,000 masks, with the vast majority produced in April and May.

Photo by Nick Davis

What makes your masks unique?

Kelsey: Our masks are unique in that they are a cone style which while not as “cool” looking are very functional and easy to wear. We made this style as it was the type VCU Health wanted. Most folks like our masks as they stay in place while talking and allow room to breathe. You won’t see any noses sticking out above our masks.

Can you share any other community outreach efforts, donations, and partnerships you’ve launched as part of your mask making efforts?

Kelsey: We donated around a 1000 yards of fabric or enough material to produce over 30,000 masks to the group led my Studio Two Three to produce masks for a variety of organizations. To date we have also donated over 2000 masks to CARITAS to support both their volunteers as well as the at-risk populations they support. 

What does business now look like for U-Fab and how can the community support you?

Kelsey: We re-opened completely in late May and have been very well supported by our community.  I encourage folks to support the good work being done by many non-profit organizations in our area such as Studio Two.

If you have about the masks created by U-Fab, email [email protected]

Photo by Nick Davis
Photo by Nick Davis
Photo by Nick Davis
CategoriesGeneral, Innovators, Work

Grid is a solutions-oriented news platform that celebrates makers, storytellers, and community builders. Our goal is to share stories about people inspired by a purpose beyond themselves. We are interested in hard work, humility, authenticity, and stewardship. And most of all, people who roll up their sleeves and push Richmond forward.