South Side Tailor Now Makes Masks
Blest by Campuzano offers good craftsmanship and soft yet snug-fitting ear straps.
The stretch of Forest Home between 27th St., where all the Milwaukee beer barons are buried, to 35th St., where Jackson Park begins, is a veritable hall of fame for artists in Milwaukee. Many tattoo and art collectives were housed on this stretch, and niche stores have come and gone, but their spirit still keeps a watchful eye over the shops that now live here. Blest by Campuzano is a business that has been around for 12 years, five of them in the shop at 2926 W. Forest Home Ave. Before it was here, it was located on 29th and Greenfield. “We were running out of space and just needed something to keep up with the demand,” Marco Campuzano tells me. He is the son of Angelica Campuzano, the main seamstress and the woman who gave the business its name, a stylized spelling of “Blessed”. Angelica has been in the United States for 29 years, and comes from a family of tailors. Her husband Victor Carrillo and Marco run the business with her, taking orders or running their social media, also helping by cutting fabric and running the books.
“Before the pandemic, we mostly made our income during quinceanera and wedding and first communion season, which was generally in the spring. When that slowed down due to the pandemic, the manufacturing of masks was our priority,” Victor says.
Marco had the idea to start advertising it on social media that masks were available. “We started getting orders the day after he put that out,” Angelica says, and “for a lot of them.” Monday, July 13th was a momentous day for protection against the pandemic, as the Milwaukee Common Council mandated that masks must now be worn in public spaces. The death toll from COVID-19 steadily rises in America, Wisconsin and Milwaukee. Prior to the mask mandate’s passage, the family-run business had the idea to donate masks, to businesses and people who needed them, which was done for a month or so before the little business had to start charging. Blest also provided close to one thousand masks to the Milwaukee County Jail, and has been providing them to hospitals around Milwaukee. They come in a range of designs, and are 5 for $20 and can be found at their storefront.
Material for the straps on the ears became scarce, but it is one of the things Blest’s owners pride themselves on. They had to try something new because the material used for masks already had a design flaw. “I would hear people complain the most about the straps on face masks. We decided to use spandex as the material so it doesn’t leave marks on your face or pull your ears,” Victor tells me. While i am at the shop, a customer shows up and i hear her tell Marco, “Everyone at my job loves these mask because the ear straps are soft but keep the mask tight on your face.” The craftsmanship is beyond reproach, and reflects an ownership that wants to help during a time when the pandemic is disproportionately affecting the black and brown community in Milwaukee. It’s a good feeling to support a business like that. The city’s South Side is truly blest to have places like this looking out for us.
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