Mask makers are coming together to help our most vulnerable through this health crisis, one face mask at a time.
Face masks are selling out everywhere right now, so we are excited to see more options emerging for the public.
From professional artists to young children, many have taken up the cause to not only provide PPE for those in need but have used the opportunity to contribute to something larger.
These five face mask makers are creating these life-saving products with a cause, donating proceeds to charity and spreading awareness during a time we need it most.
LULEA: Rebuilding a Kenyan community
Renowned designer and leather maker Edmond Chesneau moved from Ireland to Kenya to found the LULEA factory to empower the community and train locals with skills crafting leather goods.
The ethical fashion award-winning company was forced to stop producing masks for its local community in Thika, Kenya, when the government banned the sale of any PPE. However, with the help of friends, families and helpful volunteers, the company has been able to work with an Irish team to sell their masks here.
The masks are triple-layered, comfortable, and each sports its own unique, traditional Kenyan pattern. They are gorgeous products and can be purchased via LULEA’s Etsy page for just €10 each or €25 for a pack of three.
Ai Weiwei: Rebelling for human rights
Lauded Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei has designed bold and beautiful face masks with an important message. Known for openly criticising the Chinese Government’s stance on democracy and human rights, one of his famous mask designs features a raised middle finger on a stark black-and-white background.
Other designs include a surveillance camera, Chinese mythological creatures and handcuffs — all of which are made of non-surgical cloth and hand-printed. All proceeds will go to Human Rights Watch, Refugees International and Doctors Without Borders, helping fight for human rights around the world, aiding refugees in need and providing medical care to disadvantaged communities.
The masks are available to purchase on eBay. A single mask costs $50, a set of four is $300 and a pack of 20 is $1,500.
Galway girl Lauren O’Grady: Helping Irish frontline workers
Big thanks to Lauren O’Grady,13, who made me this mask. She has made 800 and sent them out to people- paid for with her pocket money. Well done Lauren. Better living through chemistry! pic.twitter.com/qecLCeG3Ai
— Luke O'Neill (@laoneill111) May 19, 2020
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar called 13-year-old Lauren O’Grady a “superhero” after she sent him two of her homemade face masks, and the title is well deserved. Seeing a huge need in her country, the Galway native learned how to sew and has been fashioning face masks using her very own pocket money.
Each mask is made of brightly coloured fabric, covered with joyful symbols like bunnies, flowers and polka dots. Since she started, Lauren has sent free face masks to many, including local neighbours, musician Sharon Shannon and biochemists at Trinity College Dublin.
She continues to bless people in her community and beyond, and hopefully, her kindness and tenacity will drive others to contribute to the cause as well.
Natalie B Coleman: Helping victims of domestic violence
Irish designer and fashion lecturer Natalie B Coleman hails from Co Monaghan and is a strong advocate for #womanindesign.
A percentage of proceeds from her barrier masks goes towards Women’s Aid — a charitable organisation that supports women and children suffering from domestic abuse.
The masks can be purchased on her online store and range from €25 to €35, depending on the product. Silk, taffeta, lace and cotton reusable face masks are available, some in fun prints and others in solid, classic colours.
Sew Change: Calling for skilled, elderly volunteers
— ChangeX (@ChangexHQ) May 29, 2020
Partnering with Age Action, Alone, Third Age and Age and Opportunity, Sew Change was created by We Make Good to unite Ireland’s elderly community in a common cause: making face masks for those who need them most.
They are asking for older volunteers with sewing materials to help create masks for vulnerable members of their communities. To volunteer, you can sign up at changex.org and you will receive a mask making kit.
The idea is to make ten masks, six of which you can keep and four to be mailed back in a provided envelope. These four masks will go to direct provision with the help of the Irish Refugee Council. It’s a great way for older people to stay safe and get involved in Covid-19 relief efforts.
Read more: We love these Irish face masks made from recycled ocean plastic, and so does Leonardo DiCaprio
Read more: Helen Cody showed us how to make a face mask at home in six simple steps
Read more: 6 Irish designers selling reusable, fashionable face masks right now