With cloth face masks and face coverings now a part of daily life outside the home, it’s no wonder such a wide range of styles are showing up everywhere.
They can be color-coordinated to an outfit. They can be whimsical – adorned with cartoon characters or rainbows – or understated. (Washington Post reporter Maura Judkis recently called the simple black mask “the little black dress of pandemic protection.”)
Masks can support a cause. They can also reflect a hobby or passion – whether it’s sports, gardening or music – or promote a brand, band or company name.
Buying a locally made mask is one way to support Western New York artisans and designers. Many have been busy sewing masks for several months.
Here are some places where you can find them. This is not a complete list, and recommendations are welcome in the comments section below.
Keep updated on websites or via social media regarding availability (some designs sell out fast), phase two reopenings, ordering information, shipping fees and delivery/pickup options.
Note: Cloth face coverings are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. They also need to be worn properly. Here is a helpful article.
Our short list:
Black Monarchy, 527 W. Utica St.: Phylicia Dove, fashion designer and owner of this global artisan and fashion boutique, sews masks from 100% cotton African Ankara-print fabrics; about 20 options are available. Masks are $15 for children; $20 for men and women.
The mask also can be part of a Monarchy Crown Set that includes a matching head wrap. An adult set begins at $40. For every mask sold, one is donated to those in underserved communities, Dove said. Curbside pickup begins June 13. You can check out her videos on her Facebook page.
Nickel City Designs, 278 Buffalo St., Hamburg: From florals and rainbows to buffaloes and gardening tools, fun patterns parade across cotton face masks sold on Nickel City Designs' Etsy shop. Masks designed for several local schools also are available (these are polyester with cotton lining), as well as all-cotton masks in Buffalo Bills and Sabres themes. The masks, which are sewn on-site, come in youth and adult sizes, $14.
“We get a lot of people ordering matching masks for the whole family,” said Scott Schranz, co-owner.
ShopCraft, 773 Elmwood Ave.: In the last couple of months, members of this artisan collective of local artists have sewn and donated about 1,000 masks to local first responders and nonprofits. They also have masks available for individual sale, with 20% of the purchase price being donated to FeedMoreWNY.org.
Squirrel, cactus and camo patterns have been among the recent offerings. Prices range from $12 to $15 and adult and child sizes are available on the website.
“Usually our artists restock us about once a week just to keep up with demand,” said Christa Penner, managing member/owner. “If you see they’re sold out, check back in a few days and then they’ll be more. They just go so fast.”
She sees the need for washable cloth masks increasing as people return to work and want more than the one or two masks they wear to the grocery store.
Stitch Buffalo, 1215 Niagara St.: Masks for women and men are available through this nonprofit organization, which provides work for refugee women who have resettled in Buffalo. The cotton masks cost $7. People can email their order and do curbside pickup (email@example.com), according to Dawne Hoeg, founder and executive director.
Under phase two, the shop plans to reopen June 9; hours will be 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays.
Also, keep an eye on Stitch Buffalo's Etsy shop for embroidered designs, $25.
Atelier Piras, 820 Elmwood Ave.: Owner Sebastiana Piras is a fashion designer and her handmade cloth face masks for men, women and children reflect that.
“My masks are double-faced; some are cotton, some are linen, some are silk. Some have embellishments for the ladies. Since we have to wear them, why not wear something really pretty? I have beautiful flowers and lace I got from Italy,” she said.
Fashion Lab NY, 1205 Hertel Ave.: A handmade collection of pleated all-cotton masks in a variety of solids and prints is available on the website. Themes range from superheroes to the Beatles, and collections are limited, according to Arlene Kaye, founder and owner of the sewing studio. Available in adult and children’s sizes, prices are from $12 to $15.
Buffalo Seamery: Known for her Buffalo-theme merchandise, Liz Brodfuehrer now includes face masks in her collection. Among the options: designs featuring pierogi, butter lambs or Polish eagles.
“These Polish face masks are the epitome of Dyngus Day style,” she said. These and other styles for children and adults are priced from $10 to $12.
This is just a partial list. Your favorite local shop may offer additional options. In April, Step Out Buffalo also published a list of 20-plus local businesses making masks.