Fashion Designer transitions to face mask expert

Pandemic Postcards

COLUMBUS (WCMH) – When Josie Wills made her dream come true by opening the Fashion Factory in early 2020, she thought she was playing dress up for a living.

But with the world going from dress up to mask up, Wills is hoping to keep her dream sewn together.

Wills now makes masks. Thousands of them — see-through, moisture-wicking, waterproof, all with the hopes of getting back to making outfits.

“As quick as I could sell them, I was giving them away, I couldn’t keep inventory. [I] still can’t keep inventory,” Wills said as she prepared the material for 1,400 new masks.

Wills has traveled the country with her husband Randy over the years. Now, she works as a designer at her own business, the Fashion Factory.

“I learned to sew before I could walk,” she said with a smile.

Wills has made dresses for pageant contestants on the runway.

“Miss USA, Miss Australia, Miss Earth, Miss World, you name it,” Wills said while also mentioning the outfits she designed for nurses and doctors.

“It was still business for me. I had to create a product I could get to market quickly and still have my name behind it,” she continued.

Right before the pandemic began, Wills was hospitalized twice with all the symptoms of COVID-19 and wasn’t sure if she’d make it.

“I had shipments from China every day, so I could have gotten it that way. I’m no doctor,” she explains.

After getting through her illness, she hopes her business can as well, saying Fashion Factory has fallen a bit behind on the bills.

“I’m not going to tell you there’s times I haven’t chased the gas man off the front door, you know, just to keep the heat on,” Wills said.

With the business struggling, she doesn’t know how long she can keep the doors open.

However, even though things are rough, Wills plans to keep going as long as she can.

“As along as the ideas keep coming, there’s something to work on,” she said.

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