Student stitches together a helping hand


A few masks Allison Simon has crafted. Courtesy of Allison Simon

Colton Loeb

Every year the summer sun draws us out of our houses and into the great outdoors. This year is no different, despite the global pandemic unfolding in our backyard.

June 2019 was filled with pool parties, festivals and crowded streets; but now, something else is drawing crowds: protests.

As COVID-19 remains, masks are still required at many businesses, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages their use.

One student has been working hard throughout the pandemic to meet some of the demand for masks while using her sewing skills to make other items to advocate for the Black Lives Matter movement.

Allison Simon, senior art education major, said she bought a sewing machine and learned how to make masks for her mother’s home healthcare company. Simon said the masks went to elderly patients first and then went to the nurses.

Allison Simon uses a Pfaff 140s to craft.
Courtesy of Allison Simon

Harnessing her art background, Simon said she quickly learned how to stitch the face coverings together using one of her mother’s masks as a guide.

Her mother sometimes helps her buy fabric, but Simon is a one-person team when making masks.

She started making masks at the end of March mostly for free. On average, Simon would make 50 for her mother’s company at a time. Now she gets orders for 4 or 5 at a time on Instagram. Being currently unemployed Simon thought selling masks would be a good way to make some cash.

Simon says she sits down and makes 10 or 20 at a time in an assembly line fashion.

“I put two layers of cotton fabric so they can be as breathable and sanitary as possible,” Simon said.

Simon has a set collection of fabrics, however, if buyers want something she doesn’t have she gives them the option of purchasing fabrics for their desired number of masks. This way the cost will be reduced for the final product.

Simon said she charges $7 for masks and said she wanted to ensure they were affordable.

“It wasn’t always about the profit for me,” Simon said. “Mostly it was important that people could get these. I wanted it to be cheap because sometimes I’m selling to other unemployed college students.”

Most of Simons sales come from word of mouth, she posts what fabrics she has available and when those are sold she makes more. Simon said she often gets tips and that buyers will offer to pay for shipping on orders. Otherwise, Simon pays the shipping costs.

With the recent developments in the Black Lives Matter movement Simon has started selling scrunchies and donating 50% of the profits to the Black Trans Travel Fund, a mutual-aid based organization that supports black trans women. It was launched in June of 2019

“I thought scrunchies was a pretty good business because a lot of girls are really into them now,” Simon said.

Simon said she plans to continue her business as long as there are people who like and want what she is selling. You can find Simons masks and crunchies on her Instagram page.