Stephanie Samperi-González’s creative masks come with a transparent twist.
The Greenpoint, Brooklyn, resident has joined a growing mask-making movement, creating transparent face coverings that allow the hard of hearing to better read lips. Just this week, a Swiss company raised more than $1 million to commercialize transparent, eco-friendly masks, according to TechCrunch.
Samperi-González was inspired by her brother-in-law, who is hearing impaired, and decided to sell them on her Etsy page for $20 each along with homemade aprons for children, which run for $35 a pop. She said she has made about 60 masks so far.
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“I have a lot of friends and family who are healthcare workers, and then my brother-in-law wears hearing aids and has over 80% hearing loss,” said Samperi-González.
“I made a whole bunch for him so he could give everybody he comes into contact with, and I offered them to people in my community. I got interest from other people, so I started selling them.”
She started making them at the end of May, and uses vinyl to make the transparent part and cotton for the rest of the mask. She advises her customers to clean them with detergent before using them. “They’re cute styles, very breathable,” she said. “It comes out so it doesn’t touch your face.”
She added that they are a bit warmer than regular masks since the clear part does not absorb moisture. But her brother-in-law left a satisfied customer.
“He thought it was awesome,” she said, laughing. She and her husband, an art director who is making face shields with his 3D printer, are donating extra equipment to the organization NYC Makes PPE.
Samperi-González, a lawyer by training who is currently raising her 9-year-old daughter and two sons, ages 6 and 2, also said the clear masks can make interactions a little more natural and less intimidating.
“I was doing this with my son earlier — we were wearing regular masks and I asked him if I’m smiling or frowning or making an angry face,” she recalled. “From a distance, you just don’t know what a person’s expression is. It’s half of the communication.”