The Helpers: Mask Makers of San Antonio

Home-stitched mask-making took off after the Center for Disease Control suggested the public wear cloth masks for the protection of others, advice reinforced by San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff. Click here to watch a video in which Dawn Emerick, Director of Metro Health, uses a mask made by a local company to show how to properly wear and remove a face mask.

The cottage industry got a big boost from the national chain, Joanne Fabrics, whose “Make to Give” face mask program that has resulted in customers donating more than 90 million cloth masks, preserving the medical-grade masks for healthcare professionals.

Where can you buy a hand-crafted face mask in San Antonio? Here is a list of those we know of. 

Did we miss someone? Email the information to news@nowcastsa.org, subject line: “Add This Mask Maker”

European Artisan Upholstery

When her custom upholstery shop at 612 McCullough had to shut down under the city’s stay-at-home directive, owner and seamstress Fiona Arecchi started making face masks for friends.

Mask by European Artisan Upholstery

Then, “the word spread, and others started asking me if I would make for the public. We decided this might be a way to save our business...I placed an ad on Facebook. Within minutes the orders started coming in,” she said.

When her daughter Giovanna and her fiancé, Alex landed in San Antonio after evacuating first from Italy where she was working, then from Spain where they live, and finally from New York, Arecchi put them to work.

“Gi did the administration and organization, Alex delivered the masks to the people who waited at the curb. The first week we did 1,000 masks. Then we had a call from BAMC asking for 4,000. A barber supply in Alamo Heights asked for 1,000.”

Now they are offering weekend curbside pickups.

Face masks are $5 each. Find them on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/pg/Europeanartisanupholstery/events/?ref=page_internal

Bonus: “We have a program where people buy one face mask for $10 and we donate two masks to nurses, homeless, or anyone who needs one. We also have disposable masks we give away...If anyone doesn’t have the money, they still get a mask.”
 

Give with Heart, Breathe with Style

Leighton Whittington sews a face mask

San Antonio fashion designer Leighton Whittington had just been laid off from his job as lead stylist of the salon at La Cantera Resort & Spa and felt a sense of dread and helplessness while pondering what the future might hold amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

Looking around his living room, his eyes fell upon the mounds of soft, colorful fabrics piled on a table when a brilliant idea suddenly struck him.

“I said, ‘This is the perfect opportunity to put that surplus of fabrics to good use, and to do something to help my community stay safe.’ ” 

With that, Whittington started his mask-making project, ”Give with Heart, Breathe with Style.” The masks are made with high-woven, double-layered cotton and a filtering bond in between. (learn more in this story on NOWCastSA)

The masks sell for $15-$20 at https://www.leightonw.com/shop  are made with high-woven, double-layered cotton and a filtering bond in between. 

Bonus: For each one sold, he donates one to the medical community.

Six Mod Seven 

Even before the stay-at-home orders, San Antonian Susie Hamilton had been approached by immunocompromised friends who asked her to sew face masks, a commodity in short supply and high demand due to the spread of COVID-19. 

Using up fabric from her design and sewing days, she soon had more masks than her friends needed, so she posted on the Internet that she had them available to sell. Twenty minutes later she checked her phone and had 50 messages asking for masks. (Learn more in this story on NOWCastSA)

Her masks come in several sizes and prints, as well as black. There are two styles, one basic and one deluxe, with a wire so that the mask can be fitted across the nose and a pocket for insertion of a HEPA filter. Because of high demand, Hamilton  is asking customers to order from a class of patterns rather than requesting a specific one.

Masks range from $10 to $14, depending on size and style. To order, go to www.sixmodseven.com/shop. Orders are now shipping in an expedited time frame, typically within 24 to 48 hours.

Filters4Air

With people everywhere looking to add an extra layer of protection to their homemade, cloth masks, a San Antonio company is offering a viable solution: air filter inserts.

David Dilling at his air filter factory

“We’ve heard of people using coffee filters and vacuum bags to put in between their cloth masks,” said David Dilling, president of Filters4Air, which has manufactured HVAC air filters for commercial and residential customers since 1995. “We provide air filter inserts that people can place inside their cloth masks for the extra protection they are looking for.”

Since then, business has been booming with customers from New York to Alaska placing orders for the MERV ((Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) 14 filter inserts. The inserts measure 5 inches by 6.75inches, just the right size, Dilling said, to fit into a pocket or the lining of a face mask. Customers can also cut them down to any size they prefer.

“We want to remind people that these are not N95 masks. We’re just trying to improve something for people who have a cloth mask,” Dilling said. “But I do think they are pretty effective.” (Learn more in this story on NOWCastSA)

Filters4Air sells the filter inserts in packages of 20 for $40 with free shipping anywhere in the country. For large orders, wholesale options are available. 

For more information, go to www.Filters4Air.com  or call (210) 805-0200.

 

Maddie Mac Boutique

Maddie Mac Boutique face mask

When Fiesta was cancelled, the  women’s clothing store and boutique switched gears and began selling masks.

The store makes square masks that have a pocket for a filter for $10.

They also offer fitted mask with fun designs and colors for $15.

Inventory varies, and masks can be tailored to different needs, such as tie backs instead of elastic ear straps.

Keep up with them on Facebook, or call (210) 387-0192 to pick up curbside at 2607 Vance Jackson.

https://www.facebook.com/MaddieMacBoutique/?

 

Broadway Pinups 

Broadway Pinups face mask

This shop at 3615 Broadway is normally dedicated to vintage-inspired pinup dresses, clothing, shoes, handbags and accessories.

Broadway Pinups pivoted to making face masks, and offers them in varying sizes up to extra large.

The masks are only available online, and cost $10 each. 

Check the website for times and availability:  https://www.broadwaypinups.com/shop/face-masks/21

 

 

Oddbird’s Boutique 

This mask-maker supplies some of its products to Broadway Pinups but also has an online offering on its Facebook page.

Oddbird’s offer adult masks in two sizes:

  • Average 8” x 3”

  • and Large/XLarge 8-⅜” x 3-⅜”

They’re doing child-sized masks on special order. https://www.facebook.com/OddbirdsBoutique/
 

Fuerza Unida

Fuerza Unida face masks

Residents can support the local community by buying masks made by the seamstresses of Fuerza Unida.

The organization was founded by some 600 Mexican-American Levi Strauss workers who were displaced by the local manufacturer’s move to Costa Rica.

Fuerza Unida members meet monthly and continue to work for economic, environmental and social justice through programs such as its monthly food pantry, community garden and annual Youth Leadership Program.

For adult and children’s masks with filter inserts, find them on Facebook or shop in English and Spanish on the Fuerza Unida website:
http://www.fuerzaunida.org/?fbclid=IwAR3V-KbxHpc-YXm_AvVosRAQ1o0fPOSLIhqEI7GaAVWB-db4jCzUmIH1S9A

 

The ArtisanSATX

Masks in bright, vivid designs and fabrics such as Dia de los Muertos, serapes, luchadores, and other brightly-colored themes are available from @theartisansatx by mail or with curbside pickup at 1103-A S. Presa.

Sylvia Tijerina sews the masks in adult and kid sizes and says she’ll mail them at no charge. Learn more at TheArtisansatx website: https://www.theartisansatx.com/ You can also find the designs on Facebook and Instagram @theartisansatx