Pencils, notebooks, highlighters and masks—for students worldwide, school supply shopping looked a little different this summer.
“It was two days before school started, and I only had like two or three masks. My siblings had like two or three too, and my mom was freaking out because we were going around to stores trying to buy some, but they were all sold out. We ended up going to JoAnn’s and buying fabric and elastic, and we made our own so we’d be able to have them before school started,” senior Wendy Moreno said.
Other students decided to use the opportunity to make fashion statements through their own customizable masks.
“I wanted to wear masks and have ones that I liked, not weird ones from the store, so they’d be cute,” sophomore Sophie Markowitz said. “My mom taught me how to sew when I was younger because she just wanted us to get the basic skill of it. Then, I pretty much taught myself how to make masks.”
For Moreno, this sewing knowledge did not come easy at first, but her desire to make her own masks fueled her to overcome the crafting curves.
“It was a little bit difficult at first because I’ve never used a sewing machine. It took us maybe an hour to try to figure it out, and even then our sewing machine didn’t end up working well. We had to go to my grandma’s house, and she let us borrow hers, so that’s how we were able to make them. It was a little bit difficult just trying to get the fabrics all lined up because I made the cuts and they were really bad,” Moreno said. “I eventually learned how to use the sewing machine, but the first one I actually made by hand because we couldn’t figure out the sewing machine.”
For senior Amelia Hoffman, watching her mom make her own masks inspired her to do the same.
“We were going to JoAnn’s one day for more elastic because at the beginning of quarantine there weren’t a lot of masks and she works for a 90-year-old woman and she needed masks. Then, I decided to make my own, and I realized that they’re cute and a little bit better than surgical masks and they’re comfortable and washable and probably cheaper too in the long run,” Hoffman said.
Hoffman soon realized that she could turn a profit by extending her homemade mask making to her friends.
“I decided that instead of just making masks for myself, I could make them for people I know. I had a poll on my Instagram asking ‘should I sell masks? Would you buy a mask if I made handmade masks?’ I had 60 or 70 people say yes, so I was like ‘okay!’ I started doing that. I posted my fabrics, and then I had people just send me orders,” Hoffman said.
Hoffman is currently selling reversible masks for $5.
“I just cut out the front side and the backside and send people photos of the fabrics. They’ll say ‘oh I want this for the front and this for the back,’ Hoffman said. “I put them in little brown paper lunch bags and fold the top and write their name on it, then just seal it with tape. The people that are in college I’m shipping to, or I’m going to their house if they live close, but here at school, I just find them and give it to them.”