STYLE AND SAFETY
Zena Jisr of Nicosia-based DeZigns By Zee has been creating and sewing for years, making clothes and bags and selling worldwide. But when the first lockdown came into force, she transferred her skills to mask-making…
“At that time, there was a real shortage of facemasks in the pharmacies,” she notes. “And as someone who has done a lot of research into the virus, I felt it was better to be safe than sorry.”
At the prompting of friends and family, Zena began sewing her masks using two layers of printed cotton, as per the CDC guidelines. “It was very important to me that I adhered to all the guidelines for homemade masks, and I fully researched the safest designs and methods. I began by using scraps of material I had to hand: bright, colourful, printed cottons which I made into reversible masks.”
Although Zena’s masks are not wired, they are designed, she reveals, to be form-fitted to the face. “I use adjustable elastic for the ears, which is very comfortable – you can hardly feel the mask is there. They’re also reversible, so you get two masks for the price of one – and I ensure that all my customers know the mask must be washed before it is reversed. And I tend to choose bright, colourful, happy fabrics,” she adds. “Something that will add a little joy to a challenging time.”
Zena also sells customised masks, complete with the logo of the business; she can make masks with a filter pocket if that is required; and can deliver all over the island. She’s even had requests from abroad, and has sent her DeZigns as far as Jordan, Bahrain, Greece, and France! “With the current restrictions,” she adds, “there’s been a definite increase in orders. Just today, a business asked for 100 customised masks!”
Carefully packaged in cellophane bags, and with care instructions included, Zena’s masks are available online or from Beauu Bar or Spike Shoes at a cost of €8 (with normal elastic), €9 (with adjustable elastic), and €12 for customised with a logo. For orders over €20, she offers a healthy discount.
FABRIC INTO FOOD
Elle Davey-Carter runs Thimbles in Paphos, an alterations studio. She turned her skills to mask-making during the spring lockdown – and saw her talents help feed hundreds!
“A friend owns Chalkies Bar in Coral Bay,” Elle explains. “And during the lockdown, it became a centre for feeding people who weren’t able to feed themselves. We began by feeding maybe 10 people each day and, by the end of the restrictions, we were feeding 400 people daily!”
Always charitable by nature, Elle saw an opportunity to turn fabric into food… “I looked into the guidelines for homemade masks, bought a load of fabric, and began sewing. Over the next few months, I made more than 1,000 masks, and raised over 3,000 euros – all of which went to help feed those who didn’t have enough to eat during lockdown.”
Sold at a cost of €3, Elle’s masks are of the pleated variety seen in hospitals. All are washable and reusable, and each is constructed from 2 layers of printed cotton, and include a pocket for a filter should you wish to add one.
“Wearing a mask is not necessarily about keeping yourself safe, it’s about being responsible and trying to keep the more vulnerable sections of the population free from the risk of contracting corona,” says Elle. “Given the new restrictions, we’re seeing more and more people buying these masks,” she adds. “Sometimes, I’ll even notice a complete stranger walking down the street wearing a mask I’ve made, and that’s always nice to see!”
Made in a variety of patterns and colours – “the black is always very popular,” Elle notes – these homemade masks are available from RSS company in Paphos, as well as through the Thimbles Facebook page and direct from Elle herself. Each costs between €3 and €5, and proceeds go to local charities.
LIBERTY AND QUALITY
Hélène Kestas of ‘Jules dort, Mamie tricot’ began sewing eight years ago as a hobby, when she was pregnant with her son, and launched her Limassol-based business on the strength of baby and children’s apparel. “I like sewing for its calming effect and creativity,” she says, “and I made my very first mask back in January: my daughter Athena got a doctor’s costume for Christmas and asked me if could make her a mask to go with it!”
Of course when Covid-19 hit, Helene turned her talents to larger versions, and began sewing masks for friends on the front line who worked in hospitals and clinics. It grew from there: “I started making masks as people started requesting them!” she smiles, adding that more than a few of her customers are abroad.
“Because I work a lot through Instagram, I’ve also had orders from all over the world. In Europe, I’ve sold to France and Germany and Italy, I recently had a huge order from America, and I’ve even sold to Australia.
“Wearing a mask is an act of kindness,” says Hélène, who constructs her masks from real Liberty of London Tana Lawn cotton. “What I do is very specific and high quality,” she reveals. “Our masks are pure quality fabric, two layers of 100 per cent cotton that’s so soft you can barely feel it on your skin. They come in many patterns, usually floral,” she adds, noting that her bestseller boasts the same print as mask recently worn by the Duchess of Cambridge. They are made from two or more layers of cotton, provide full coverage of the nose, mouth and chin, and fit snugly against the sides of the face.
Each of Hélène’s masks costs €9, and is individually packaged in a transparent sleeve, sealed with a sticker, and contains a little care instruction tag. “Attention to detail and quality is such a part of me!” she laughs. “I really enjoy creating and wrapping each order!”