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Tilit face masks
Photograph: Courtesy of Tilit

New York’s top designer of chef aprons is now making and donating masks

The beloved brand behind many chefs' favorite apron brand is now making masks

Written by
Bao Ong

The founders of Tilit are used to putting aprons, coats and even jumpsuits on the back of chefs across New York and the country. But with all New York restaurants and many across the country temporarily shut down (except for those choosing to offer delivery and takeout), co-founders Jenny Goodman and Alex McCrery have turned to making face masks.

Within 20 minutes after Governor Andrew Cuomo had announced about two weeks ago that there was a mask shortage for healthcare workers on the frontlines of battling the coronavirus pandemic, McCrery drafted a pattern for the masks. Tilit says it’s sold 4,000 masks so far (much of it made from scrap fabric at first), and they are currently selling more online for $16 each, with the company donating one mask for each purchase to people working food service and medical jobs.

“We’re pivoting because chefs don’t need fancy aprons right now because they’re not in their kitchens,” Goodman tells Time Out New York. “We’re producing what people need right now.”

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The eight-ounce makes are made of recycled hemp and organic cotton with latex-free elastic ear straps. While the team notes the masks are not FDA-certified or CDC-approved, you can line them with a HEPA filter and they’re also machine washable. It’s been a quick change for a brand that has catered to many chefs cooking at the best New York restaurants, including Missy Robbins (Lilia and Misi) and Junghyun Park (Atoboy and Atomix). 

Other companies, such as Los Angeles-based Hedley & Bennett, and noted fashion designer Chrisitan Siriano have also jumped in to help meet the demand for more masks. Tilit’s goal is to make 2,000 masks each week, with half of the inventory slated for donations. The orders—made by the company’s seamstresses in their own homes—have been placed across the country.

Tilit, which is based in the Lower East Side, had also partnered with Street Pigeon and Chef Supply to raise money for Relief Opportunities for All Restaurants by selling tee shirts (all the proceeds were donated to the NYC restaurant workers’ relief fund).

“Right now, we’re focusing on doing things for charitable reasons,” says Goodman. “We’re all coming together to support smaller businesses.”

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