Need Masks? Here’s 5 AAPI Creatives Who Are Stepping Up During COVID-19

Over the past weeks, news reports have been rolling in from across the country discussing the nationwide shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare professionals and the general public. Now, with the Center for Disease Control encouraging everyone to wear masks when going outside, Asian American creatives are stepping up to help. Clothing companies and even just people at home are working together to create masks, helping to alleviate some of the pressures caused by the outbreak.

If you’re in need of PPE or know someone who is, read on to find out how to get access to these masks cheaply or even for free.

1. Equipe Athletics

This Buena Park, California-based company has turned their focus from athletic wear to manufacturing reusable cloth masks for those in need. “We were doing swimwear and we were doing cycling wear and yoga clothing. All different kinds of sportswear. And, now we’re a 100% mask-making factory,” CEO Patrick Tio told FOX 11 News. For restaurant workers and members of the public, the masks can be worn solo, but healthcare workers can wear them over medical-grade N95 respirators to help prolong the latter’s effectiveness. Tio and Equipe Athletics have donated over $15,000 worth of masks thus far.

2. Chloe Dao

Fashion designer Dao is best known for her chic womenswear collections, but since the outbreak has closed her Houston, Texas store, the “Project Runway” winner has kept busy helping the community. Aided by other local sewers and donors, Dao is giving away masks to the public at the Chloe Dao Boutique (by appointment only), and had already donated over 1,000 masks as of April 7.

3. Joah Love

Children’s styler Joah Love helped lead the pack in the early days of the pandemic. Joah was among the first fashion brands to start making and donating masks, and although the ones they sell aren’t N95-rated, the company’s primary goal is to encourage all Americans to get comfortable with the idea of wearing protective facial covering. They’ve even launched an online campaign, #MaskUp, to help drive the messaging. Additionally, with every mask purchased, Joah Love donates one to a healthcare organization in need.

4. Kristina Wong

When life is turned upside down, go with the flow. 10 days after canceling her tour due to the COVID-19 outbreak, comedian Wong spends her time making dozens of masks for healthcare workers and members of the public alike. Although she started her work on her Hello Kitty sewing machine at home, Wong now remotely oversees a collection of over 100 volunteers from all different backgrounds, who have united to create masks at home. Wong jokingly refers to her creation as a “sweatshop,” but the group runs solely on donations rather than profit.

5. I Love Nails and Spa

In Gainesville, Texas, I Love Nails and Spa has converted their salon space into a sewing facility, and their manicurists into mask-makers. After posting on Facebook offering to provide masks to those in need, owner Jeff Clancy and his family have been inundated with requests, but they’ve also received significant donations of supplies and machines to help their cause. Although the I Love Nails team is mostly donating within their local Cooke County area, they hope to continue helping out anyone they can reach.

They’re also not alone in their efforts. Nextshark reported recently that many nail salons around the country are donating stocks of masks and gloves to healthcare workers, and some are also sewing their own.