Jennifer Biagiotti Worried the Homeless Would Get Covid-19. So She Started Making Them Face Masks
Is it possible that face masks could be fun, colorful and stylish? A lifelong artist decided to find out
April 14, 2020
How did an artist and her husband begin making Covid-19 masks for homeless people, nurses and others?
"It all started with a friend of ours asking Jennifer to volunteer to make masks for the social workers and volunteers of Step Up on Second, who work with the homeless," says Edward Biagiotti.
His wife Jennifer made masks for Step Up on Second, a Santa Monica charity serving the homeless. She has since made masks for homeless people themselves, which her neighbor has been distributing to them.
"They posted her picture with the masks and thanked her for volunteering, "Edward said. "Then people started wanting her to make them for other people."
"Jennifer posted what she was doing on Facebook. Our friends started requesting their own masks. Jennifer set up a sliding scale from $10 to $20 depending on the complexity of the masks and the purchasers ability to pay," said Edward, an inclusion specialist with the Culver City School District.
What's special about these masks? "Our face masks are made from different fabrics. Some have a pocket for a filter. There's a floral pattern, the "Train Engineer" in the striped hat fashion
Everyone loves "Casual Friday", which has black denim on the outside and blue plaid on the outside,"says Edward, who now assists Jennifer with her new face mask business.
"Some have polka dot patterns, those have been very popular. People are attracted to them because they are not so drab.
Jennifer attended the Otis School of Fine Arts and majored in photography. Overtime, she started up-cycling clothing and also selling vintage clothes.
For a while she was doing portraits, but began to lean more towards clothing. She started collaborating on hemp clothing for Vital Hemp on Main St.
Why did Jennifer begin making masks?
"Originally, I volunteered to do it because I grew up in Venice and SM, and there's always been homeless people. And I've always felt a lot of compassion for those people, I used to photograph them when I was in college, and I felt the social workers and volunteers who help them should feel safe and have protective gear, and not be scared to continue to help. That was the initial motivation," she says.
"There was so much fear in the air about catching this virus, I thought I could make people feel better by making the masks colorful fun and stylish, something more fun than just coving your face up; that it would add some cheer during this crazy time.
I like to combine style and function."
"Then I realized a lot of people aren't working and they know a lot of people making less money. So I set up a sliding scale so anyone could afford it." she adds.
"The people who can pay more help pay for us to provide masks to homeless people. And also for nurses and people who work in senior living homes. I've been sending those out for free."
"This has been a huge blessing, to be able to work from home and help people, says Jennifer. "It's keeping me busy, which is good too! Keeps me from watching the news and off the internet," she adds.
if you are interested in seeing the scarves, you may go to @i.tinkstudios on instagram or http://www.itinkstudios.com