Can you believe we’re almost halfway through 2020? For those of us sheltering at home, it seems as if the days just bleed on by. For many of us lucky enough to stay comfortable in our homes and still have any form of income, it seems like there’s a massive disconnect between our Zoom meetings and socially distanced happy hours with favored friends, and what’s happening on television: Nationwide and global protests against police brutality and our persistently racist culture juxtaposed against weird Rose Garden press conferences and photo ops; and the ever-climbing numbers on illness, death and unemployment. It’s hard to figure out how to be present in all of these worlds.
I recently sent an email asking for information about how those of you in the design community have been doing things differently since the pandemic first hit, and I’ve received an incredible outpouring of stories. I sent the email with the intention of telling these stories in a single post. But there’s so much good stuff that I will be putting out a series of them. First up are a couple of supremely talented ladies that are putting their good taste to work to help feed families who’ve suffered amidst the pandemic-fueled economic shutdown.
Designer Regan Billingsley, who was already working with artisans in Guatemala to produce handmade textiles for a home-goods line she’s planning for later in the year, took a break from that goal for a different tasks: Making face masks.
Regan’s working with the haberdashery company durian & the Lyon to have the masks produced and sold. Each one costs $40, but they are so chic! I know, because Regan was kind enough to send me one so I could check it out for myself:
Here’s a look at some more of the fabrics:
Not only do these proceeds help support artisans and their families in Guatemala, but Regan has pledged that for each mask sold, she’ll be donating two masks to non-profit organizations that are feeding those in need. Locally, she’s supporting Food & Friends, which serves more than a million meals annually to those who are homebound due to serious illness. In the time of Covid-19, I’m betting that this organization needs our help more than ever.
At the same time, Gretchen Everett and her incredible workroom are adding masks to their roster of orders that include draperies, pillows, upholstery and all other manner of custom textile work requested by our area’s top designers.
She hasn’t even gotten her website up yet to sell any of these beauties, because she’s been so busy giving them away to charitable causes, such as Medstar Washington Hospital Center and the Montgomery Coalition for the Homeless. “I had so much stuff get donated to me, I was overwhelmed!” she said. “People are unbelievable.”
Even cooler: Designer Liz Levin, who uses Gretchen’s workroom for all her custom orders, introduced her to Amanda Marshall’s Families4Families, a network Amanda created to deliver groceries every week to families who need it across the DMV. Gretchen has since been making masks for the small army of volunteers that Amanda’s assembled to organize and deliver the food.
It’s easy to get depressed by reading the headlines every day, but zero in on your own block or neighborhood, and there’s so much going on that can inspire hope and happiness. Cheers to Regan and Gretchen and all the folks they’re helping to keep DMV families afloat.
More to come in a post next week!