After customers wiped shelves clean of face masks, some Kent State fashion students decided to take matters into their own hands and create their own face masks to protect people from COVID-19.

Sophomore fashion merchandising major Kayla Jones said she started creating face masks once she got home from college as a way to keep her family safe. Her main concern was her grandmother Sibyl Pugh, since she is at risk due to her age.

Kayla Jones

Picture of sophomore fashion merchandising major Kayla Jones. 

“I didn’t have a mask, so I was thankful Kayla made one for me,” Pugh said. “She made it easier for me to be able to answer the door.”

Due to the lockdown, Jones said her grandmother provided her with old fabric she was no longer using so she wouldn’t have to go out for an unessential trip to the store.  

At first, Jones used old bandanas to create the face masks but quickly discovered how thin the material was. To her, this was the equivalent of wearing tissue paper. Jones said she started doing research to make sure she was creating the most efficient and protective masks. 

“I watched multiple tutorials on how to create face masks,” Jones said. “I ended up finding two that I loved, combined them and then created my own.”

After posting her work on social media, Jones said friends and family started gaining interest. Shortly after, they started asking Jones to create masks and other clothing items for them. 

Since so many people seemed interested, Jones decided to turn it into a small business for herself. As of now, Jones said she has only sold five since it’s a newer business, and she was making them for free at first. 

Jones said she is currently taking orders and advises anyone who might be interested in purchasing something from her to contact her via Instagram DM.

“I would never have promoted it because I didn’t think people would be interested in buying my work,” Jones said. “After a few people asked for custom orders, I knew it would be a great business move.”

Marlene Valle will be transferring to Kent State from Lorain County Community College and plans to major in fashion design and minor in business. Valle has also been creating face masks for her immediate family.  

When the virus first broke out, Valle’s mother, Teresa Valle, was going into surgery. Although it was a minor surgery, Valle said she knew it would make her mother more vulnerable to the virus, so she wanted to protect her at all costs.

“Since all the stores were sold out of face masks, I thought I’d just make them myself,” Valle said. “I knew it wouldn’t be that hard for me since I already knew how to sew.”

After watching a few tutorials, Valle started cutting up old fabrics to create masks for everyone in her household.  

Valle said she is not currently selling her face masks to the public but hopes that everyone is doing their part to stay safe. 

“I might start selling them on my website soon if enough people seem interested,” Valle said. “For now, I will continue making them for my family as well as following social distancing protocol, to prevent catching the virus.”

Andre Claudio covers fashion. Contact him at aclaudio@kent.edu

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