Our frontline workers have surpassed all limits of tolerance and discomfort by the virtue of their responsibility towards Covid-19 patients. Countless pictures of doctors, nurses and care workers with mask-marks are available on the internet. At the same time, at a community level, especially among the elderly citizens, it is intriguing to imagine that they would be able to wear masks for long periods of time without any discomfort despite their old age. Sunnie Delilah, a Birmingham based designer took notice of it and made a customised mask for her father-in-law who wears a turban. Asian Voice spoke to her to find out what went into making these masks and how community level care is the need of the hour.
What urged you to come up with the idea of making masks for Sikh men?
My father-in-law, a sikh man with a long beard and turban, was struggling with a standard mask, having to use an additional string with the masks provided by his workplace to hold in place over his turban. He also was not comfortable with the mask not covering all his face with his beard being visible under the mask. This led me to designing and creating a face covering to resolve the issues he was facing. After creating it for my father in law it soon came to light that this was an issue for men all around the world.
This very simple thought is so basic yet so neglected in these times. Have you spotted anymore communities within BAME who need a certain specific garment or accessories during these testing times?
Yes, in fact following releasing this mask to the public to purchase and having done several TV or radio appearances. I was approached by many Muslim ladies who wear hijab (head scarf) that all mentioned having the issue of strugling with masks. As they put a lot of pressure on their ears under their head scarf. I had further created another version to suit people who wore head-wear but needed a standard size mask to help with this.
How important is community level participation and sensitisation for you?
Very, if you have the capability to help then put it to use. I would be very disappointed in myself if I couldn't be there for the community, raise awareness and help.protect the elder generation.
How much energy and labour goes into making these masks? For what cost and how can people procure it from you?
These new masks and coverings that I have designed are not as simple as the standard ones available to purchase from many places. They have a more complex design, consisting of 3 layers and fastenings for ease of wear, comfort and wearability. You can purchase these specific masks from £15-£20 via my brand Delilahsdressingroom.com. Every mask is washable, reusable and a proportion of each sale is donated to the NHS.
How difficult is it to manufacture these masks and sell them with safety guidelines given that it requires multiple hands to work on? How many have you sold so far?
The pattern and construction of these masks are more complex than standard masks and take longer to make. However they are made of high quality and made with love to serve a purpose. Each mask is only constructed by one person at any given time with safety guidelines in place. With these masks helping men and women from all around the world reaching as far as Australia and New Zealand. Delilahsdressingroom.com has made and dispatched thousands of orders catering to the demand.