Today's superheroes don't wear masks, they make them.
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, and in the wake of a 5.5 Richter scale earthquake, Croatia persists in staying strong and communities across the country continue to act in solidarity. Volunteers, ranging from individuals and small-scale shops to fashion brands, have been sewing masks to assist health workers and individuals in need of protection during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their endeavors are helping to stop the deficit of this much-needed and highly sought after medical gear. We dive into a few (of many) commendable examples of tireless mask-making volunteers.
Karmen Herceg of Karmen Herceg Design
Karmen Herceg owns a designer boutique in Šibenik, but these days she's not making modish dresses for prestigious runway shows. She now dedicates her time to making washable, re-wearable masks from natural cotton. Herceg's aim is to contribute to minimizing the mask deficit. She works non-stop from 6am to 9pm, making 60 masks a day. The masks aren't on sale in Herceg's now-closed boutique, but sold directly to buyers for 15 kuna a pop (just enough to cover her expenses). She boils masks, irons them and then hand-sews the folds to be as close to the face as possible. Born with congenital strabismus, Herceg is an unstoppable force, letting nothing get in the way of her dedication to fashion - and now helping others.
Zlatko and Helena Škrinjar of Mali Anđeo Baby Boutique
Pitomača-based Zlatko and Helena Škrinjar, owners of Mali Anđeo ("Little Angel") Baby Boutique, are creating reusable masks made of natural cotton and donating them to Croatian hospitals, homes for elderly, and other health institutions free of charge. The couple first donated 200 masks, making an announcement on their boutique's Facebook page, and then more and more orders began to come in. They soon found themselves with over 20,000 requests. In an effort to continue their promise of donating masks to health institutions, they put out an open call for volunteers to help meet orders. After just a few days, similar movements inspired by the couple spread throughout southeastern Europe.
Laundry workers of Martin Horvat Hospital
Laundry workers of Martin Horvat hospital Rovinj have taken creating masks into their own hands. They sew masks outside of their normal working hours (often staying up all night), all at their own initiative, each day. They gift all masks to the hospital's medical workers. Martin Horvat Hospital in Rovinj is a private hospital which specializes in rehabilitation of disabled persons and in orthopedics.
The women of non-profit organisation Udruga Kamensko
Udruga Kamensko was founded in 2011 by laid-off textile workers of the failed Kamensko industry. Their purpose was (and still is, today more than ever) working together and supporting one another in an existential and emotional crisis. The organisation is made up of women over the age of 50, who are skilled textile workers with talents ranging from sewing and tailoring to designing. During the COVID-19 crisis, they've decided to dedicate all of their time and resources to designing and creating washable and reusable masks made from 100% cotton. Udruga Kamensko's masks are sold at 20 kuna each, just enough to cover production costs.
Sabrina Herak Smoković and Marin Leo Janković of SABMARINE
Smoković and Janković are art students at the University of Zagreb's Academy of Dramatic Art. They founded creative production brand SABMARINE through which they're currently, in collaboration with textile house Vasco, creating designer masks. Their goal is to make unique, stylish masks for fashion lovers who can't afford the likes of Fendi. SABMARINE's mask-making initiative, dubbed Your Personal Saviour, aims to add a little brightness into what has become an everyday reality.
This feature is part of Time Out Croatia's commitment to support businesses, commerce and non-profit organisations during the period of social distancing.