Mask4Mask, a local business specializing in custom-designed cotton masks, has made it its mission to donate a mask for every mask sold.
Paul Liller and Robin Hearts-Love, co-founders of the philanthropic company, said that the less fortunate have an ally in the ongoing struggle against COVID-19.
“If you walk in our front door and say, ‘I’m poor, I need a mask,’ I guarantee you, even if we don’t have one made, Robin and I will jump right on a sewing machine and whip it up for [you]," Liller said.
Mask4Mask aims to help combat the current health crisis caused by COVID-19.
“This is about keeping people safe,” Liller said.
Liller has previously been the owner of Blackwell Enterprises, a business that involves booking drag queen events. Having spent years making costumes for shows, Liller was able to translate his sewing experience over to mask-making when his co-founder, Hearts-Love, complained that store-bought masks were not complying with CDC guidelines.
“The masks that she had purchased for, I think, $20, were basically one layer above pantyhose material,” Liller said.
When Hearts-Love suggested the two start making masks and selling them, Liller was skeptical.
“Nobody’s going to want to buy these masks,” Liller said, thinking back on the initial idea.
Liller was surprised, however, with the pair’s immediate success.
“In the first week, we sold probably 150 to 200 masks,” he said.
That first week was in early April. Mask4Mask has made more than 15,000 masks since.
Working as a drag queen inspired Liller in more ways than just sewing expertise.
“For us, drag has always been historically about giving back and doing things to help others,” he said.
Some of the places Mask4Mask has donated masks to include the Rosenbaum House, Bartlett House and Friendship House, all local providers with humanitarian aims.
“We’ve sent them to churches, we’ve sent them to families that needed them," Hearts-Love said. "We’re getting ready to send out 600 masks to schools all across the state."
Additionally, the company handed out every single one of its pre-made masks to attendees at the High Street Black Lives Matter protest this summer.
“That’s our way of giving back and being able to help people at a time when everything is different,” Liller said.