From sustainable mask designs to masks with matching bandanas for pets, Gainesville’s small businesses offer creative ways to stay safe this Spring.
Students looking beyond the generic blue and white surgical masks can protect their classmates and communities while shopping locally as they return to in-person classes.
Mia Crisostomo said she waited until she had the perfect design to incorporate masks into her shop.
The 21-year-old UF marketing and sustainability studies senior founded Redefined Goods, an upcycled, sustainable shop in 2018. From tote bags to bucket hats to scrunchies, all items sold are created from secondhand goods.
Crisostomo said she originally made the masks just for herself. But, after working alongside her mom, she began adapting a design that would help protect wearers as much as other cloth masks would.
By folding the fabric a particular way, Crisostomo said they followed a design that could mold to the nose without adding any plastic material to the mask.
“Like any other single-use plastic thing, the surgical masks can be very wasteful over time,” she said. “Using cloth masks is a really great way to reduce that waste while still being able to protect yourself and the people around you.”
The masks are crafted from fabric scraps and ribbon is used for the earloops. Crisostomo is currently working on masks that have a filter or filter pocket for customers who want to add their own.
Recently, Crisostomo got the idea to add silk to the masks currently in the Redefined Goods’ shop. She said silk is better for the skin, and the tightly knit fabric repels moisture, making it safer and more breathable than materials other handmade masks are made out of.
People can purchase masks from Redefined Goods on its website. Since the shop operates out of Gainesville, students in the area can choose to do in-person pickup for their order, which Crisostomo said is convenient and avoids shipping costs. She also sets up her shop at local Gainesville markets such as The Florida Vintage Market and the Bazar À La Carte.
“If you're in the market for a cloth mask, there are a lot of cool options online, but Gainesville is just such a unique place with so many small businesses that there are also so many people that make and sell them here,” Crisostomo said.
The AUK Market
The AUK Market, located at 2031 NW Sixth St., is situated on the complex of local coffee shop Curia on The Drag. The AUK Market is an independently owned, curated market featuring local artists who make and sell an array of pottery items, candles, jewelry and prints. The shop also sells vintage items such as furniture, glass and clothing.
Sabrina Kaar, 35, a co-owner of the AUK Market who runs its vintage clothing section, said when it reopened in June, the staff was grateful but conscious about opening the doors during a pandemic.
“We felt it was not only our responsibility to encourage social distancing and sanitizing efforts inside the store, but also to offer the public the mechanism from which we all stay safer and healthier: properly fitted facial masks,” she said.
The AUK Market has two local makers in the store who craft masks together: Prairie Aura and Self Care Wares.
“No matter what your style, you can find a cute mask to not only elevate your wardrobe but also to stay safe and keep our community healthy,” Kaar said.
Kaar said the two creators have brought many styles of masks to the AUK Market such as vintage repurposed fabrics, modern aesthetic, boho and pinup girls.
The AUK Market is open every day from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. except Tuesdays. Patrons can shop in person or order a mask on its website.
Two sisters and UF students, Juliana DiMauro, 22, and Natalie DiMauro, 20, turned their quarantine hobby of sewing into a small operation.
“We made masks because we wanted to stay safe while also coordinating our masks with our outfits,” they wrote in an email. “We started out just making them for ourselves, but once friends became interested, we started to sell them.”
The sisters’ masks are made of 100% cotton fabric and are double-lined with a soft elastic for comfort.
“Our design is a very simple but universal style of mask that follows the curvature of the face without a need for wire,” they said.
From holiday patterns to school spirit designs and a new spring collection being released Monday, the DiMauro sisters said they choose fabrics based on what they think people would love.
During the Spring semester, orders can be placed through the links found on the duo’s Instagram page. Orders can be shipped, and patrons in Gainesville can place orders for local pickup or delivery.
Prim N’ Proper Paws
Brianne Bennett, 25, who co-owns Prim N’ Proper Paws, said the small business began selling masks in hope of providing customers with a way to stay safe and healthy without sacrificing comfort. But the items sold at Prim N’ Proper Paws are not catered to only humans.
The business started out selling bandanas for customers’ furry friends. Bennett said there were growing requests for masks, so it only made sense to allow customers to purchase a set with a mask and a matching bandana for their pet.
“Pandemic fashion means matching your mask with your dog,” she said.
Bennett described the masks as being made from 100% cotton and easy to wash. She said all masks contain a hole to insert a filter if wanted, and all masks have elastic straps and size adjusters.
Bennett is local, and the shop offers free shipping to Gainesville, High Springs and Alachua.
Kristin Bausch is a third-year journalism major at the University of Florida and a staff writer with the Avenue. Giving people an opportunity to share their story is one of her favorite things about writing. When not writing, she’s probably dancing.