LA Designer Creates Fly Face Masks For Folks Looking To Stay Covered Amid The COVID-19 Pandemic
Batani-Khalfani’s mask designs feature everything from colorful, traditional Afrikan prints to camouflage and newspaper print.
This feature is part of Blavity’s Quarantine Creators series which spotlights Black creatives offering artistic, educational and uplifting resources amid the coronavirus pandemic. Our unique penchant for creativity has been put on full display as we aim to navigate this crisis. Whether you’re on the frontlines or protecting yourself and others by staying at home, don’t sleep on this Black genius we’re about to serve you.
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One woman is working to end the critical shortage of masks and gowns for medical workers during the COVID-19 epidemic — and she’s doing so in impeccable style.
Batani-Khalfani, of South Central Los Angeles, is a designer and creator of her self-named couture brand. A multi-hyphenate artist, Batani-Khalfani’s talents were featured on season 16 of Project Runway. Now, she’s focusing her skills in an effort to contribute to the world crisis with face masks.
“A few weeks ago I saw everything getting more serious and heard that hospitals were out of masks, gowns and other materials they need to help treat patients,” Batani-Khalfani told Blavity.
“I have tons of fabric and fabric scraps that I keep and have collected over the years, bags and bags full, and I had been trying to figure out what to do with them. So I decided that I would make some masks to donate to hospitals and some masks to sell,” she said while speaking on her inspiration for creating the masks.
The scope of COVID-19’s reach is ever-changing. While it was initially believed that fatal cases were uniquely linked to those with already compromised health, the number of fatalities linked to healthy individuals continues to rise, as Blavity previously reported.
Safety gear has continued to be scarce for civilians and medical professionals alike. Hospitals across the nation have run out of face masks and other essential equipment to safely interact with those potentially exposed to the virus, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Batani-Khalfani’s masks, which sell for $24.99, aren’t just stunning and culturally fly, they’re designed with safety and practicality in mind. You can check them out at Masked.world. It's important to note that these aren't anti-viral medical masks, and operate more as a face covering. Additionally, Batani-Khalfani is not a medical professional.
Her Ankara masks are made from cotton whereas the others are cotton mixes. All of her masks have four layers of fabric.
While DIY face masks do not offer the same protection as medical masks, Business Insider says something is better than nothing. They cite a 2013 study that asserts cotton masks have a third of the efficiency as N95 masks, of which there has been a widespread shortage.
"While homemade masks are not as effective as surgical masks or N95 masks, they are absolutely helpful in this time with the major shortage going on," Shawn Nasseri told Business Insider. "They help keep the area clean and clear, so it is better than wearing nothing."
Batani-Khalfani’s mask designs feature everything from colorful, traditional Afrikan prints to camouflage and newspaper print. Aside from fashion, her offerings have filled a much-needed void. The response has been overwhelming.
“Everyone needs masks. I sold out of styles the first day and in my restock sold out again. People have messaged me and told me they are cancer survivors and how they appreciate me doing this and how they would like some for their children because they are cautious in making store runs with their children,” she said.
Batani-Khalfani’s styles are one of a kind. Sold-out designs will not be restocked, but she’s continuously updating her inventory. Corporations can order in bulk.
When asked if she had any advice for fellow Black artists, she simply encourages others to “create.”
“It's a really crucial time for all, and if I can use my talents during this time to make a difference in the lives of many I am,” she added. “We must use our gifts to help at this time. As creators we are truly needed.”