To stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic, some La Jolla entrepreneurs are making the one thing everyone in San Diego County needs to go out in public: face coverings.
According to the county, those required face coverings can be made of cloth — bandannas, scarves, neck gaiters and homemade masks are all OK. Medical-grade masks should be saved for health care workers.
Places such as Everyday California in La Jolla Shores and people like Jillian McCarthy, who has worked as a hairdresser in La Jolla the past five years, are answering the call.
Everyday California went a different direction than a traditional face mask with elastic bands around the ears. The ocean adventure and apparel company began marketing neck gaiters that wrap entirely around the nose, mouth and neck.
“Looking at the current climate and realizing our employees were going to need something when we got back to work, we started prototyping something comfortable and long-lasting,” said Everyday California co-founder Chris Lynch. “When we first made them, everyone wanted them. So we did a test run to see if we could sell them online … and they sold out in two hours.”
More were quickly produced at a facility in Oceanside, in three patterns. They’re currently on sale for $12 (down from $15).
The gaiters are designed to be more comfortable when worn long term by taking the pressure off one’s ears. The machine-washable coverings also are intended to be usable after the mask requirements are lifted.
“This is an accessory that is going to be around for a while,” Lynch said. “But even after this is all over, these coverings can be worn while fishing to protect you from the sun or while dirt-biking to protect you from dust. We wanted them to have extended use so you haven’t spent your money on something you are just going to throw away.”
New patterns are being released in coming days. To view the collection, visit everydaycalifornia.com.
For McCarthy, who has worked at Glidia salon and Atelier Aucoin Salon & Studio in The Village, making and selling masks has been a source of income since she was furloughed.
“I was sick of the masks you can buy in stores and was upset that people were buying all the masks that should be saved for medical personnel,” she said.
So she started making masks for her and her boyfriend and posting them on Instagram. From there, interest spread.
McCarthy started selling her face coverings on social media, tailoring each to the customer by asking for facial measurements so they would fit perfectly. She also made them in accord with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to ensure adequate protection.
The masks start at $15, with 25 patterns to choose from. She also makes halter and bikini tops to match.
“I was thinking summer is coming, and I can just see all these people walking in their bikinis, so I thought this would be a fun thing to do,” McCarthy said. “I turned my little office into a sewing room and every day I put on my crime junkie podcast and sew all day. ... [I’ve] gotten good feedback from people. It’s all been super positive.”
“Making these masks has allowed us to buy groceries and pay our bills this month; it has saved us,” she said.
Learn more and view the collection on Instagram @jillianiscreative or instagram.com/jillianiscreative.