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Wednesday, August 12, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Local business

Enterprising Spirit: Dorian Studio pivots business operations amid COVID-19 by making face masks for students, faculty

Longtime family-owned and operated yearbook and photography company Dorian Studio has pivoted its business model by making customized face masks for students and teachers at West Coast elementary and high schools.

The company, headquartered in Spokane, began creating artwork for the masks, which are printed at its facility at 4212 W. Sunset Blvd., after the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in mid-March, and it became evident that face coverings would be required in public spaces, including schools, said John Mark, Dorian Studio’s chief operating officer and co-owner .

“There was not a lot of masks made for children, and we saw the demand was there,” Mark said.

Creating the face masks was about “doing everything we can to help schools reopen, and trying to keep our folks busy and continue to operate,” Mark said.

Dorian Studio spent a considerable amount of time discussing how to personalize the masks, which predominantly display school colors and mascots, Mark said.

A school in Idaho has ordered two-sided masks from the company that included designs as well as student and faculty names printed on the other side for identification purposes, he said.

“We are trying to focus on making a mask that kids and staff members can wear and feel comfortable in,” Mark said. “We spend a fair amount of time working on the fit and finish of the masks.”

Dorian Studio has produced more than 10,000 face masks for West Coast schools with a surge in demand for staff masks coming from Clark County in Nevada as some teachers are conducting remote learning from their classrooms, Mark said.

“There’s also a lot of interest from the Los Angeles area,” Mark said. “I suppose it comes from the fact that the area has been harder hit (by the pandemic).”

Dorian Studio has not produced face masks for Spokane-area schools, he said.

The Mark family founded Dorian Studio in 1914 and expanded it to include photography and yearbook services in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.

The studio mostly offered wedding and portrait photography until the 1980s, when it began taking sports photos at various local schools.

“Subsequently, in the 2000s, there was an opportunity to get into the yearbook space and we began offering that service to our family of schools,” Mark said.

The company, which is also co-owned by Mark’s parents, Joe and Yvonne, and other family members, now photographs more than 1 million students annually.

Dorian Studio’s success is attributed to a common goal among owners during its more than 100-year history, Mark said.

“All of the ownership groups focused on how it could bring honest value to families,” Mark said. “We take our job of preserving memories of folks seriously.”

Dorian Studio will continue printing and creating masks as long as the demand is there, Mark said.

“We want to be in a position to be able to help folks return to school safely,” he said.

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