Junny Hibbert had been making her colorful, reversible face masks long before coronavirus hit.
The Harlemite, whose three-year-old fashion label, Junny, is known for its vibrant caftans, first began designing face masks for a jet-setting model client.
She also started selling masks in pop-up markets at local hot spots like Red Rooster. The Harlem restaurant attracts tourists from around the world, including Asia, where face masks have been in use for a much longer time.
Her masks were so popular, she included them in her current spring/summer collection.
Then came the pandemic.
"All of a sudden, it exploded," says Hibbert, who works as a media executive by day.
For the last few weeks, Hibbert has been ramping up her mask production, making about 50 a week with the help of one employee who does the sewing.
She uses any leftover fabric she can find. "No scrap is left behind," she says.
Currently the designer releases and ships out one batch per week–making sure to first donate about 20 to health care workers and facilities.
This week's batch will be ready on Wednesday. Because the masks are made with scraps, patterns vary; each is $15.
"It's such an ugly time," says Hibbert. "At least the masks give a little beauty and style."