The model and cofounder of wellness line Gryph & IvyRose has teamed with Ashley Liemer, the cofounder of children’s apparel label Billie Blooms, to launch their Masks for All initiative, which is providing protective masks to Feeding America and its workers on the front lines of the pandemic.
“I don’t sew or own a sewing machine, but I know Ashley, who is a tailor by trade and has a little tailor house in the Design District,” Kurkova said in a phone interview from Miami. “I said, ‘Ashley, you have a trade that I don’t and you can sew fabric from your fashion brand to start making masks for people who really need them.’”
Kurkova and Liemer, who have known each other for 10 years, began working together roughly three weeks ago to put together the Masks for All initiative, where Liemer’s staff of seamstresses and local manufacturing partners are producing roughly 5,000 masks a day. The masks, which are available in toddler’s, kid’s and adult sizes, will be sold on the Billie Blooms web site with each mask purchase resulting in a donation of one mask to Feeding America.
The duo chose Feeding America as their charitable partner because Kurkova has an existing relationship with the organization, having worked with their food banks in Miami and New York City, and because the charity is working at the front lines of the pandemic by providing meals to those in need across the U.S. The initiative is starting off by providing a donation of 2,500 masks to Feeding America’s operations in Miami and New York City.
“We’re not doctors and we’re not able to go and save lives, but we really wanted to do something that was creative and about helping out,” she said. “We didn’t have much time to start from scratch and we knew it was important to move quickly.”
The Masks for All initiative offers two different masks: a fitted 100 percent, nonmedical grade cloth mask for $20 and a 100 percent, nonmedical grade folded mask for $15 for a pack of three masks or $25 for a pack of five. The masks are made from excess fabric from the Billie Blooms brand and are machine washable.
Customers also have the option to purchase masks to be donated directly to Feeding America through the Billie Blooms web site.
Kurkova’s focus for the initiative was to offer options for the whole family and make the process of wearing a mask easier for children. The masks come in colorful prints, such as floral and striped patterns, and other fun designs, including illustrations of cats and dogs.
“We wanted to offer something that was a little familiar and fun for the kids,” Kurkova said. “Wearing a mask isn’t easy for anyone. It’s not easy for me and I’m an adult.”
While the initiative is a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kurkova says it may continue if states extend orders for residents to wear masks in public.
“We don’t know how long these masks will be, but we know we’re entering a new way of how we’re going to socialize, travel and work,” she said. “We’re just trying to help flatten the curve and provide everyone with what they need.”
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