SA’s enterprising mask-makers prize gems over germs
Entrepreneurs create fashion-forward responses to the pandemic
As the panic kicked in and stores nationwide were wiped clean of face masks, Nkazimulo Nkabini knew she needed to find a way to protect her family and herself from the coronavirus – in style.
On Thursday, the Durban third-year fashion and textile student launched her range of bejewelled Nkay face masks, which started selling as soon as she posted them on social media.
“I was sitting with my aunt, and we were trying to get masks for ourselves, and my aunt said I think you should just make the masks because stores are out of stock and we can’t get them anywhere, even online,” said Nkabini.
I collaborated to design patterns to test and see what could work, looked at fabrics and how to best sanitise them, making them sustainable and reusable.Entrepreneur Waseefa Hutton
In a few hours she came up with protective gear that was functional but also stylish.
“I use 100% cotton to make the mask. Some are plain, and some are decorated with beads for some of the ladies who don’t want to look dull,” she said.
It takes her about 30 minutes to make two masks. A set of four plain masks sells for R100, while the decorated ones sell for R250, excluding courier charges. They are reusable and washable.
Nkabini is not the only one creating fashion-forward responses to the pandemic.
Another fashion forward creative, Hse of Bespoke, also picked up her sewing tools, sourced shweshwe material and got to work shortly after the World Health Organisation announced a shortage of personal protective equipment.
Entrepreneur Waseefa Hutton got in contact with healthcare workers, doctors and clinicians who are on the front lines fighting the effects of Covid-19.
“I collaborated to design patterns to test and see what could work, looked at fabrics and how to best sanitise them, making them sustainable and reusable,” said Hutton.
Hutton’s masks retail for R80 without a protective pouch, and R120 for a pouch to keep the mask when it is not being used.
Subz Pants and Pads, a pioneer of the country’s first reusable sanitary range, have also ventured into 100% cotton masks amid the coronavirus outbreak.
“I was approached by a retailer at the beginning of February to create a face mask in light of the pandemic, so we immediately set to work and created the Subz mask, which is washable, sustainable and hypoallergenic,” said founder Sue Barnes.
Barnes’s masks sell for R15 a mask, and you can also place bulk orders.
The cotton fabric helps minimise the spread of the virus.