That’s similar to how Jodi Kostelnik, owner of product line the Neighborgoods, ended up selling a weekly batch of face masks. She didn’t know how to sew, but she had stacks of dish towels that she used to sell as seconds at farmers markets. Kostelnik ended up partnering up with the woman-owned D.C. business Pattern Sample Sew to turn those imperfect towels into masks.
She wasn’t sure if it would work originally, since the towels had to be cut carefully so they retained their cheerful, food-inspired patterns. “Once they were made, I was like, ‘Ah, they’re so cute,’” Kostelnik says. Each Saturday, she posts them on the Neighborgoods site, where they sell out fast. She’s ramped up to selling as many as 180 masks a week, giving her newsletter subscribers a heads-up on what time they will be posted. “They cost a lot to make,” Kostelnik says. “I’m not going to sell them to make a ton of money. I’m selling them because people need them and it’s helpful.”
Stacey Price, co-founder of District-born retail chain Shop Made In DC, also saw that masks were something her customers wanted. She recently launched an online pop-up with 125 mask styles from 25 different local makers, and has sold more than 1,000 masks so far. “People are voting with their dollars in a way that they never had before,” Price explains. “They do want to support local makers.”
True to its name, Shop Made In DC’s pop-up includes quite a few mask designs that directly channel the city. “We joked, after being in business for six months, that Portland puts a bird on it, and we put a flag on it,” she says, referring to a classic “Portlandia” sketch. “Customers would come in and be like, ‘Do you have that, but do you have it with a D.C. flag?’ ”
Looking for your own face mask that shows some local pride? Here are options that rep the District and beyond, with designs featuring everything from cherry blossoms to Old Bay.
Put a D.C. flag (or map) on it
Local brand Scout & Indiana made a rustic-looking mask with a D.C. flag block print — also available on Shop Made In DC’s online pop-up, alongside others geared toward Washingtonians. (Bailiwick Clothing’s black and white mask superimposes the words “DC Together” over a silhouette of the District.) Eastern market booth Yinibini Baby is selling three different masks online, simply adorned with D.C.’s red stars and stripes, while local maker Lil’ Fishy’s denim face mask replaces the three stars in the city flag with three sweet animal faces.
T-shirt manufacturer BreakingT put the Washington Nationals’ inspiring mantra “Stay in the fight” on a $35 three-pack of face masks, with proceeds going toward health-care workers tackling covid-19. Meanwhile, Fanatics.com is selling logo-covered face masks for local teams such as the Capitals and the Redskins.
Some like it hot
Not only does Route One Apparel offer Maryland flag and crab-emblazoned masks, but the company also stocks several different styles of face masks devoted to the state’s favorite seasoning, Old Bay.
A Capitol idea
Cover up with a neck gaiter from D.C. artist Kelly Towles’s shop Holy Bones, decorated with an anthropomorphized-version of the Capitol building, nicknamed “Cappy.” Or tie on All Very Goods’ bandanna, featuring the city’s cherry blossoms and monuments, or Capitol Cider House’s red, white and blue version, displaying a graphic version of the cidery’s logo and the U.S. Capitol building.
Here are more design-forward options from local makers to expand your face mask collection:
Emulate the speaker of the House
Nancy Pelosi has been spotted wearing masks from the Old Town Alexandria shop Donna Lewis.
Make it from scratch
Gorgeous African prints
Anacostia boutique Nubian Hueman offers cotton ankara fabric masks in different patterns. Local designer Simply Cecily and Etsy shop MohBCouture also offer colorful masks that come with matching head wraps.
Floral looks — from moody to preppy
If you think cheetah is a neutral
Put a smile on their face
The Neighborgoods sells cheeky, food-themed masks (think pineapples, peaches and pizza slices). The masks feature a wire band sewn into the top to help with fit. More options: CircuitBreakerLabs on Etsy offers science-print masks featuring atoms and beakers; and Atelier Nomad stocks a summer-ready mask with cartoony Amalfi Coast scenes.