We've Got You Covered.
Discover Durham partnered with Sheila Amir of The Bulls of Durham to promote this list of local creatives making face masks for the Durham community.
Both Sheila Amir and our team at Discover Durham are committed to ensuring that folks can source the resources they need to keep themselves and loved ones safe in this new era of COVID-19 social distancing. Our public mandates specify that we must wear face coverings while in situations where social distancing isn't possible (think grocery stores and retail spaces). These can be medical grade masks, of course, but they can also be masks made of cloth materials (or everyday items in your home).
This piece focuses exclusively on cloth face masks that are made in or close to Durham, though your best bet for mass-produced, medical-grade masks is Public Hardware, Inc. in downtown Durham, which recently received a shipment of N95 face masks. Here are some of the picks we've scoured online for, with a specific emphasis placed on female and creatives of color:
These masks were made by Natty Neckware, listed below.
Black-owned, woman-owned business
CheReversible offers washable, reversible face masks that will keep you styling while you meet the state and local face mask mandates. There’s even a pink tiger print option for anyone whose still riding the "Tiger King" wave. CheReversible Cheresa Denae has options for NCCU and UNC fans too! In addition to the custom masks, she’s got 85 different mask options.
Erica Martinez’s business Happy Unicorn Studio offers a bevy of beautiful mask options, and you can even get a custom made purse to match. Her Etsy shop offers free shipping and handling with orders over $35, and (added bonus!): her super cute dog Lena updates her Instagram audience as to what’s going on with Happy Unicorn Studios.
Talib Graves of Life on Auto Pilot has used his company as a force of good. Given the current situation they’ve pivoted to offering masks. “Recognizing the need for high-quality and affordable masks, we (Life on Autopilot) have put to use our manufacturing facility to provide high-quality masks for both children and adults." Talib said. "If you or an organization you work with would like masks (wholesale or retail) please let me know.”
Email him to place your order and pay via PayPal to the same email. They’re currently offering six solid colors and three patterns.
Maria is sewing cloth masks to give to those in need, especially healthcare and essential workers. A little Instagram research revealed that she started this endeavor on March 21st; in less than six weeks she made over 1000 masks!
If you are an essential worker, please reach out to Maria to see how you can receive a mask. Although you can't purchase a mask from Maria, for those looking to offer support, Maria is accepting donations to go toward materials, allowing her to continue to make masks and scrub caps.
Natty Neckware may have to change their name to 'Natty from the Neck-Up Wear' because their mask business is popping. This mother-son duo is working tirelessly to keep up with the demand for masks.
In addition to a quick 5-day turnaround (from sewing to arrival), the masks came with a kind thank you note and care instructions. All the masks are exceptionally made and the fabric was stunning in person. Natty Neckware gives you the choice of cloth or waterproof face coverings.
Ngozi is selling cloth masks — they're priced at only $10 and they’re absolutely stunning. They have have been making cloth face covers or masks for a month now and have donated, discounted and sold over 1,700 masks, and are continuing to make the adult and children's masks locally and by hand. They are shipping all over the country daily. If you are or know of elders (75+), medical professionals (who are working with patients) or people who have special needs (high risk), contact Ngozi for special arrangements. An additional pleated style is now available!
Sonali Sethi is the creator and owner of Personality LLC. Sonali is a dope human. Period. An Indian immigrant who moved here with her family as a child, she uses her company to uplift women stateside and in India at the same time. Before COVID-19, she purchased her fabrics from India. This allowed her to make truly one of a kind fashions and uplift the women in India who made the fabrics.
Sonali began making masks on April 2nd, 2020 to help with the devastating shortage of PPE for healthcare workers. As demand and mandates for all essential workers and citizens to wear masks grew, so did Sonali’s request list. Within two weeks, she found herself making masks for the Museum of Life and Science Animal Care crew. The results were as fashionaBULL and adoraBULL as you imagine.
Personality’s masks are great for anyone looking for masks without elastic, Their masks are pleated and tie, which allow them to adapt to your face. This provides a level of safety by minimizing potential exposure. The proceeds from the masks she makes and sells are going towards making more masks for essential workers.
Owner River Takada made an incrediBULL video on how to batch sew masks for anyone else wanting to make masks to meet the demand, and RivTak’s business model is to create truly one-of-a-kind fashion pieces and accessories out of salvaged and remnant fabrics to create zero-waste, stunning fashion. Choose from light-colored fabric patterns or dark fabric patterns when you order.
Upcycling reuse artist and animal-foster mom extraordinaire Sarah Pai started fostering an adoraBULL chihuahua named Mario who had a severe breathing problem. Sara began making masks to help raise funds for his much-needed surgery, and Masks for Mario was born. Sadly, the medical complications were too great and Mario passed away. He spent his final moments being loved and is now at peace.
Masks for Mario became Masks for Mutts and continues in Mario’s honor. A purchase of a handmade mask made from donated/upcycled fabric goes towards supporting Hope Animal Rescue. These sales help counter the lost income the rescue has experienced from having to cancel all their events indefinitely due to COVID-19.
Choose the color you like, and in three to five days, a surprise fabric pattern mask will be shipped to you.
Sew Right for You owner Lynne Nixon has been sewing for decades. When duty called to make masks to keep us all healthy, Lynne stepped up to the challenge without any question, and she’s having fun doing it. Check out her Instagram to see some hilarious and even treacherous requests she’s fulfilled. She’s even made masks that are both UNC and NC State fabric. (Her most recent post shows a hamburger mask, perfect for the burger-lover in your life.)
Interestingly, Lynne offers different sizing of masks, including larger sizes to safely accommodate beards. That’s pretty incrediBULL.
Toni realized that since she can’t give in-person lessons at this time, she could fill a need and make a little money by making and selling face masks. She offers them in a wide variety of fun and cheerful colors and patterns, and they are customizable with either elastic to go around the ears or ties to tie behind your head. They are $15 each, and Toni accepts can accept cash, check or Venmo as payment. She'll allow one person at a time to come into the studio, sanitize their hands and select from the fabrics available without touching anything. Email Toni to order or get more info.
Kathi's Klowns is owned by Beth Harris Rojas, and is a local children's entertainment company that has donated over 1000 masks to people and organizations, and over 300 scrub caps to nurses and doctors at UNC and Duke Hospitals. All financial donations they receive go directly back into buying fabric and supplies to continue making masks and scrub caps for the community.
The fabric staple we all know and love is creating masks now for $5.50-$10 online now, and orders can be picked up curbside. They have a distinctive fabric collection, so you're probably going to be impressed with whatever face covering you get from their robust repertoire!
Custom Threadz is owned by Adam Wigode and is a Durham-based direct-to-garment custom t-shirt shop that focuses on digitally printing (DTG or direct-to-garment printing) onto all color items making the design process simple yet amazingly sophisticated. This process allows your image to become part of the garment itself, providing the highest quality resolution of your image or design. They're printing masks now, and they're in stock!
Custom ideas abound at this online printmaking shop, and the patterns and prints are sure to impress. In addition to sneakers, tees, and shirts, they're also making masks out of fabrics like bandanas. Contact them to place your order today!
Megan has an extensive sewing background and used to run an Etsy shop where she sold interactive children's play quilts. She also managed the Scrap Exhange's Craftland (family and friend's gallery) for a time. She's also made and sold over 350 face coverings to assist in protective COVID-19 efforts. Order yours today!
Disposable Masks for Those in Need
The Bulls of Durham community partner Inkfinity gifted some disposable masks to give to the community. We’ve given a portion to a community activist who will get them to those with the greatest need, including our delivery heroes. All remaining masks are available here.
We’re charging $1 for 2 masks to cover the shipping costs. Please limit one set of two masks per person: we ask that only those who genuinely need them order. We understand that not everyone has access to washing machines or may have other challenges that require disposaBULL masks.
If you know of any other local makers who are making masks, please e-mail email@example.com. To read Sheila's original post, visit The Bulls of Durham here.