For ten years, Chris Savittiere supplied upscale restaurants and hotels in Austin and around the country with aprons, uniforms and leather goods. To start, the self-taught designer converted his Austin house into a sewing studio. A couple of years ago, he opened a shop on Austin's east side for his business, Savilino.
"I laid off my staff," he said, "and asked if they would stick around for a couple of days and make some masks and see what happens. I said, 'It's either going to be a big dud because no one is going to wear one or it will keep us afloat for a while.'"
The first week they had enough work to keep people going. Then, in the first days of April, they made it onto the news one night, and the Centers for Disease Control issued the recommendation that people wear a cloth mask in public.
"And it just blew up," he said. "Immediately, we hired more people."
Savilino was suddenly receiving about 3,000 mask orders per day. Savittiere says the business has produced over 12,000 cloth masks, and that about 9,000 more are currently being made.
He is building "a small army of home sewers." So far, he has about 17, with more coming on board every day. He provides curbside pickup of the materials the sewers need.
Inside the shop, wearing masks and sanitizing frequently, is an eclectic team. A hairstylist is handling the phone, while another is in charge of orders. An old bartender buddy of Savittiere's, who is also an actor, is managing the shipping area. Lighting people are cutting fabric.
"It's a ragtag group of people," he says. "Everyone is just really dedicated."
Some of his customers are previous clients, who are still trying to stay in business, such as restaurants offering take-out service. Other orders are coming from the public as people call, write to him on Instagram, contact him on Facebook and text. To manage the process, he sends them all to the company's website.
He has donated masks to the ARCH, an Austin resource center for the homeless, and says that when he is ramped up and able to fill existing orders, he will begin to donate masks to other organizations. He has also made it possible for the public to use his website to commission masks for donation.
For now, he is navigating various bottlenecks in the supply chain, working to reduce the current 10-to-14-day wait for masks. He thinks his team will be caught up in about a week, and then able to fill orders more quickly.
At some point, when people are able to return to restaurants and hotels, he will have to face the question of whether to go back to his previous business. He is concerned that as these clients face harder times, custom goods may be one of the first things they cut. He also says that he is having a change of heart.
"I'm feeling more of a responsibility to the community and things that benefit the public," he says. "I feel there's a cultural shift that's going to happen after this."
- San Marcos favorite Industry Burger opens "mid-October" on E. 5th, featuring "low key healthy" Texas fare.
- Still Austin Whiskey Co. introduces "The Artist," its new rye whiskey.
- Domain NORTHSIDE favorites Bakery Lorraine, Grimaldi's Pizzeria, Jeni's Ice Cream and Sprinkles released their fall flavors.
- Cinnaholic at The Arboretum opens Friday, October 14, serving "create your own" cinnamon rolls and other sweet treats.
- San Francisco's Marufuku Ramen opens next Wednesday, October 12, in the Mueller District.
- Carpenter Hotel announces its popup food truck, Lil Carpenter, open Fri-Sun both ACL weekends, serving what you want, early to late, coffee to donuts, to dogs/burgers/fries/beer.
With major entertainment events slated for October, the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is gearing up for a busy month.
Artists and music lovers are set to pack into Zilker Park for The Austin City Limits Music Festival in the coming two weekends. Following that, Formula One will bring racing fans to the Circuit of the Americas.
For those two events, the airport is anticipating high passenger days with 30,000 or more people departing flights.
ABIA recommends arriving at least two and a half hours in advance for domestic flights on those days. For ACL, it's expected on both Sundays of the festival along with the Monday and Tuesday after. The F1-driven high passenger days are expected on Oct. 20-21 and Oct. 23-26.
\u201c#AustinCityLimits visitors, you\u2019re in for a weird and wild ride \ud83e\udd18\u262e\ufe0f \n\nFlying in or out of our airport? We got firm and fun tips for you: https://t.co/RawVRalOXN\u201d— Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) (@Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS)) 1664894083
F1, especially, could draw in loads of travelers as the three-day event saw 400,000 attendees last year. ABIA warns that highways leading to the airport may see even higher traffic than usual around the event and that travelers should plan their route accordingly.
Bailey Grimmett, a spokesperson for ABIA, said travel numbers come in 24 hours in advance. So, it's hard to predict if the airport will see travel volumes at the same levels that have happened around previous F1 races or if it'll top ACL's flight traffic.
Still, she says historical knowledge points to a chance for it.
“We've had that Monday after F1 break the record for single busiest in airport history," Grimmett said. "So context clues I would say yes, but I can't confirm that. But the historical background points to that."
In anticipation of the high volume of flyers, the airport received additional TSA officers for security screening through the end of October. To prepare even further, the Department of Aviation and partners hosted a job showcase and hiring fair to address the continued labor shortage the airport has experienced.
Relief from hectic travel days is on the horizon with November likely to see a slowdown.
"I don't anticipate it will be as busy as October just because we don't have as many events going on," Grimmett said. "Thanksgiving is kind of our primary holiday that we see a lot of passengers coming in and out of the airport."