Photo courtesy of Shreya Ramesh
Senior Shreya Ramesh knows all too well that although quarantine may be boring, wearing a mask doesn’t have to be.
Ramesh founded MaskMaking, a non-profit organization that gives back to the community by selling masks and donating the proceeds to charity. Her online shop makes wearing a mask fun — Ramesh’s masks include a blue swirl mask for trips to the beach, a snowflake mask to celebrate winter holidays, and a Lancer mask to show school spirit. The customer favorite is a blue cow print mask, which Ramesh says “pretty much goes with any outfit.”
Ramesh, the president of Sew in Love club, launched MaskMaking on Aug. 9 after getting more involved in sewing as a quarantine hobby. Over the summer, Ramesh would spend four or five hours a day sewing, and she now dedicates her weekends during the school year to mask making.
“The fact that I’m able to turn a hobby into a meaningful activity that gets to not only help me have fun, but also help out other people and make a positive difference in other people’s lives, that’s the most meaningful part,” Ramesh said.
Thus far, Ramesh has donated roughly 220 masks to charities like Village of Hope in Tustin, CA. The proceeds from mask sales go to the San Diego COVID-19 Community Response Fund to benefit the local community, and to the NAACP for a cause important to Ramesh.
“Because I feel really passionate about everybody being equal and the advancement for the rights of people of color, I really wanted to donate to a charity that really has a very strong message about that,” Ramesh said. “It’s a very powerful thing, it’s something that we all need to be talking about and something that is really important for the advancement of our society.”
In addition to selling masks on her website, Ramesh also writes blog posts on topics like her first mask delivery day and Cathy, the mannequin head she uses to model her masks. Ramesh first discovered her interest in writing after completing an op-ed for her English 3 AP class.
“I love writing stuff, and because of how much I liked it, I really wanted a platform where I’d be able to write some more and write some pieces that are more meaningful to me and I thought that other people would enjoy,” Ramesh said.
Ramesh stresses the importance of wearing a mask and social distancing to not only protect yourself but also those in our community who are at a higher risk of facing complications from COVID-19. One of Ramesh’s customers, senior Allie Tanita, agrees.
“Wearing a mask is super important to me so that I can keep my family and friends safe from COVID,” Tanita said. “The more we wear our masks and social distance, the faster we can get back to school and sports.”
Ramesh doesn’t have plans to slow down MaskMaking’s operations anytime soon — she still visits JOANN fabrics every two weeks to scout out new mask designs, and she already has plans for future blog posts, like one exploring the evolution of masks over time. She hopes to encourage others who want to make a difference to start small and expand into helping other people.
“In a world where there’s so much happening, it’s really hard for people, especially someone that’s 17 years old and living in a pandemic and is confined to her bedroom, to make a difference from just these four walls,” Ramesh said. “I feel like I have a sense of purpose now because I’m helping out so many people.”