After being laid off because of COVID-19, I began making and selling pleated face masks. First, I sold through Instagram but once I began receiving more and more requests I, very apprehensively, decided to create an Etsy shop (haupachimade). I was nervous that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the influx of orders I was receiving, but I knew it would be silly to not take advantage of this new booming market, particularly because of my recent unemployment.
Initially, when I started selling face masks on Instagram, I ran a buy one, donate one promotion: for each mask purchased, one would be donated to local Portland eateries that were open for takeout and delivery at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As everyone was adjusting to this new normal of working from home, not working at all, and social distancing, the uproar caused by the killing George Floyd sent our nation into another widespread contagion -- one not caused by a virus, but even more terrifying, the people who are supposed to protect us.
Like everyone, I felt pretty unsettled and helpless about what to do to support the Black Lives Matter movement. I felt lost as to where to start and conflicted about sharing my opinion. However, there were a few things I knew how to do: make masks, sell them, and give back.
For the entire month of June, I pledged to donate $3 for each mask purchased.
Note here that my goal was to maybe sell 75 through my Etsy shop (assuming orders continued to steadily flow in) and be able to donate about $225.
At around same time, the beginning of June, my friend Tara asked me to make her family some face masks as a tribute to her alma mater, University of Oregon (#SCODUCKS). She wanted 10 masks, and ended up buying six yards worth of fabric which, even if you don’t sew you should know, is WAY TOO MUCH. I should’ve had the foresight to tell her how much fabric to buy... but I’m glad I didn’t. There are some mistakes that are worth making. This is one of them!
Once I finished making the masks for Tara and her family, we had an EXCESS of University of Oregon fabric. When I asked her what she wanted to do with it, she told me that her employer, Nike, was participating in a 2:1 donation match for their employees and suggested making and selling masks out of the surplus of fabric and donating 100% of the proceeds to 100 Black Men of America.
So, through Instagram and her network of Nike employees, we let people know about our plan. Throughout June, we sold a total of 158 masks and raised $891. Together, our donation to 100 Black Men of America totaled to $1,782 -- almost 8x what I set as my initial donation goal.
I didn’t and still don’t have a huge platform. I didn’t and still don’t think what I was doing needed to be recognized. I just knew that we had the tools to try to make a contribution to an organization that can make a difference.
With that being said, we want to thank everyone that purchased a mask! At the risk of sounding cliche, without you guys, this would not have been possible at all. It’s true. If you’re still reading this, we hope that this inspires you to also make a contribution to work toward a healthier community we can be proud to live in.
CLICK HERE to learn about 100 Black Men of America. Let me know in the comments if you guys would be interested in a post about why we chose to donate to 100 Black Men of America!
[ blm, black lives matter, black lives matter donation, face masks, 100blackmenofamerica ]