Our Stories

U of I Students Make Masks to Help During the Pandemic

July 31, 2020

Cloth masks are a little easier to come by now, but early in the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a severe shortage of masks of all types. Like many people in our community, Kayla Gonzalez (BADM ’22) and Selena Cruz (LAS ’22) found it troubling and frustrating.

Not to mention, the two U of I students, similar to many of us, didn't know how to make effective cloth masks themselves. This led to a lot of YouTube videos and a brand new business.

The process of learning how to make masks and finding the process to be a great way to give back to the community led to MaSKed. The 'S' and 'K', taken from their first names, marked their personal touch on the business. The business wasn't just out to make a profit. Per the businesses' website, their mission is to "promote public health, community, and unity in this crisis."

That means donating proceeds to causes that also aim to give back during these difficult times. 25% of each purchase is donated to Feed the Front Line Chicago, which is a nonprofit started by Gies grad Rachel Jacoby that donates food to front line workers and supports local restaurants. The two business founders also enlisted the help of Gies College of Business faculty for guidance on setting up an eCommerce website and how to structure their plans to distribute masks.

From solid colored masks to fun designs for kids like PAW Patrol and safari animals, MaSKed is set to rollout a new design of masks that features adjustable ear straps. This way, their masks can fit anyone like their custom made for that customer. Each mask also comes with a filter pocket and one HEPA filter. Additional filters are sold separately.

In an interview with Gies College of Business on the company, Gonzalez mentioned how the business developed into an all-fronts effort to give back. "We can make a triple impact by keeping people safe, supporting local businesses, and helping feed front line workers," Gonzalez explained.

These efforts like many we see developing around our community show what Outside of Ordinary looks like in the face of adversity. When we come together, we're stronger together. 

Visit the MaSKed website here for the full line of masks available for purchase. 

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