Santa Ana Community Makes Masks for Those in Need

GFHS+student%2C+Karyme+Iniguez%2C+models+one+of+the+masks+that+she+and+her+mom+make.+Photo+taken+April+16%2C+2020+at+6%3A25+p.m.

Courtesy of Karyme Iniguez

GFHS student, Karyme Iniguez, models one of the masks that she and her mom make. Photo taken April 16, 2020 at 6:25 p.m.

By Wendy Rodriguez, GODINEZ FUNDAMENTAL HIGH SCHOOL

As California tries to flatten the curve and stop the spread of COVID-19, staying at home is the new normal and face masks are essential. 

Wearing a mask is required in most places and grocery stores in the state of California.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recommends that when in public, one must wear cloth face masks that can stop the spread of the coronavirus. 

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said that anyone who performs essential tasks such as food shopping should wear face coverings. Garcetti added, “To be clear, you should still stay at home. This isn’t an excuse to suddenly all go out.”

Courtesy of Genesis Bridal Boutique
A variety of masks that Genesis Bridal Boutique sells in their store.

In Orange County, wearing a face mask in public took effect on Friday, April 24, 2020. It requires employees and residents to wear a facial covering when interacting with the public. Northgate Markets, who has 38 locations in Southern California, said in a statement that they will be requiring a facial covering for entry into their store.

One business that has switched to sewing face masks is a local bridal shop.

Located in Downtown Santa Ana, Genesis Bridal Boutique, remains open to the public but only to buy or pick up masks. As a boutique, they sell dresses for quinceaneras, baptisms, and prom but currently, they only make and sell masks.  

Owner Lilia Cerpas sews with her sister, Vicky Cerpas, and her niece, Victoria Lopez. 

When the coronavirus started spreading, Cerpas’ business came to a halt. No one was picking up orders for their prom, wedding, or communion dresses, because all events were cancelled due to quarantine restrictions. 

“The good season was about to start for us because of first communions and proms, so when this situation started, sales were very slow,” added Cerpas.

Cerpas explains that she got the idea from some designers in New York who had switched their businesses to sew masks and that’s when she decided to make cloth face masks to help the community and keep her business running. When the pandemic hit, she invited her family and friends to share their Instagram page on social media.

When she published her first photo on Instagram and Facebook, people started calling to place their orders. 

Cerpas added that the Instagram page @dtsantaana with over 37,000 followers, helped her promote her business as well. 

Cerpas niece, Victoria Lopez, said that she manages the Instagram page, answers phone calls, assists customers, and when she is not doing that, she sews and packages masks. They are filling, on average, 30-50 orders a day. 

“The situation is very unfortunate, but we hope to be a positive contribution to our community and to help slow the spread of the virus,” said Lopez. 

Cerpas usually spends all day at her boutique. She starts work at 10 a.m. and does not leave until 10 p.m. most nights, depending on the work that needs to be completed.

“I am happy doing this work because it is something that is needed to protect us and prevent this virus from spreading.” Cerpas added, “We will soon go back to normal.”

Courtesy of Megan Blash
One of the popular t-shirt masks, Megan Blash sells on her Etsy site @gingerlycut.

Godinez Fundamental High School social science teacher, Megan Blash, recently started making masks from home. Several years ago, Blash created a store called GingerlyCut on the website Etsy. The website sells handmade items such as jewelry, candles and crafting supplies made by local vendors.

Blash’s mother would sew special outfits when she was young and it’s what influenced her to start her own business. In addition, she learned the basics by taking a sewing class in high school.

All makers received an official email from Etsy that asked them to make and sell masks because they saw a need. Since Blash had material and elastic, this was a great opportunity for her. 

Besides making masks, she makes t-shirts, custom grad caps, party decorations, jewelry, and so much more on her site. 

“My favorite thing to make is custom decals for graduation caps though; it is the best and I actually am really missing that part of my business this time of year,” added Blash.

Blash admits that she doesn’t really advertise her business, rather she gets most of her orders from word of mouth or by luck, because people stumble upon her store on Etsy. She does post what she makes on her Instagram page @gingerlycut.

Blash is selling customized t-shirt style face masks and just received an order to make 30 masks for a sea turtle rescue team at a zoo in Florida. 

“If anyone has access to a sewing machine and wants to learn how to make masks for themselves, I would be happy to help,” said Blash.

We are really grateful and appreciative (that we can) help others.”

— Karyme Iniguez

GFHS senior, Karyme Iniguez and her mother just recently started making masks as well. Iniguez said that the pandemic is what gave them the idea to make and sell masks because they realized there was a shortage of masks and they are naturally crafty. 

Aside from mask making, Iniguez said that it’s easy for them to get customers and sell because the community sees them as trustworthy people. Before they started making masks, they would sell pastries including cake pops, cookies, and brownies on their social media accounts. They advertise on many platforms including: Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat.

“We do have a good reputation and I think that’s what makes us trustworthy for people who want to buy from us. We are really grateful and appreciative (that we can) help others,” said Iniguez.

Iniguez and her mother are located in the Inland Empire, but the majority of their customers are from Santa Ana. Therefore, they sell their masks for $5 with an additional charge for delivery.

As far as designs and colors, they use fabric that they have prior and continue to restock on fabric as needed. Iniguez said they have sold approximately 400 masks within two weeks. 

Iniguez said that the fun thing about this new hobby is they are helping others stay protected and are providing masks to essential businesses that need them.  

“The downside is that it is very time consuming. My mom and I start work at 9 a.m. and do not finish until midnight. It is very difficult because we are constantly getting orders, but we are trying our hardest to manage,” said Iniguez. 

On weekdays, they try to find time between their other jobs and Iniguez’s schoolwork, to cut fabric, deliver or continue sewing masks. However, on weekends is when they spend all day working nonstop.  

Iniguez mentioned that there are so many people who are impatient and as much as they understand that masks are needed, there is only so much time to get things done, fast. 

For now, Governor Gavin Newsom, asks Californians to continue to stay home and practice social distancing until May 15th. 

And since face masks are required when going outside, many people including Cerdas, Blash, and Iniquez continue to sew late into the night to keep us safe.

This story was originally published on Grizzly Gazette on April 24, 2020.