Clothmask Initiative still growing strong and giving back

Enter to win a free clothmask in our new social media contest

It has been about four months since the immigrant women behind Sewmates Craft launched the Cloth Facemask Initiative, and they are still sewing up a storm!

When the COVID-19 pandemic landed in BC in March, this sewing business collective, which is part of the Intercultural Women’s Maker Society sponsored by DIVERSEcity’s Immigrant Entrepreneur Program and Vancouver Community College (VCC), decided to use their sewing skills to make clothmasks to help people stay safe.

“With our cultural backgrounds, we understand that wearing masks is a common protection in most Asian countries,” says Clara, one of the Sewmates Craft members. “We were so worried about the emerging situation and some of our members kept mentioning this idea of sewing masks.”

With the support and encouragement of Florence Kao, the employment specialist with DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society’s Immigrant Entrepreneur Program, Sewmates Craft started sewing and delivering masks to some of the most vulnerable populations such as those on the Downtown Eastside. They started with a donation of 100 masks to the non-profit organization Mission Possible, and then opened up sales to the public via a simple website:

For every 10 masks sold, the women donate another five. As of mid-July, they group has made more than 2,700 clothmasks, benefiting clients of charitable organizations including DIVERSEcity, Lookout Society, DTES Women’s Centre, the neonatal intensive care unit at BC Children’s Hospital, Surrey Muslim Foodbank, the intensive care unit of Surrey Memorial Hospital and more.

“The Sewmates Craft members are genuinely appreciative of being able to offer something in the COVID-19 situation. In the busy weeks, members were making 200 to 300 clothmasks per week,” says Florence. “By helping the community, the group also experienced the whole business operation process, including product development, promotion/marketing, production, delivery/logistics and accounting practices. It’s a precious experience for a new business collective.”

The sales from individual orders and designated donations are able to cover the cost of fabrics, supplies and some of the members’ hours.  Learn more about the initiative here.

Win a Clothmask!

Would you like to win one of the high-quality clothmasks made by the Intercultural Women’s Maker Society? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (@diversecitybc_) for a chance to win one of 10 masks. Over the next several weeks, we will be choosing 10 lucky winners to receive a free clothmask.

How to win:

Keep an eye out for our weekly contest post. When you see a post, like it and you’ll be entered to win a free clothmask! Winners will be contacted directly and sent a mask.