.Local Businesses Apply Art and Fashion Design Skills to Masks

Battling the pandemic for nearly a year now has sparked a wealth of creative avenues to keep Covid-19 at bay: from crafty outdoor dining patios, equipped with heaters, sun umbrellas and all kinds of tents and landscaping, to attention-getting homemade signage, face shields and a flurry of masks.

Paul De Worken of Monterey Bay Murals has rolled out his own line of masks that he sells at the weekly Certified Farmers’ Market and online. So far he has come up with 10 logo designs and three styles of masks.

“You have to keep up with the times,” he said recently while setting up his table of clothing, stickers and pins at the market. “I’ve worked some of my original designs into the masks, like ‘the Ville’ design. The market has definitely slowed during the Covid thing, but I’ve been out here every Friday. As long as we need masks, I’ll keep them coming.”

On East Lake Avenue, at Queen’s Shoes and More, owner Sindy Hernandez has also turned her fashion design skills loose on a wealth of masks of her own, original designs.

“The masks have saved me,” she said. “They pay my rent. I’ve sold over 5,000 of them, and people keep asking for them.”

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Indeed, blended in with her line of original women’s clothing at her shop is a display of scores of her masks, from plain and simple to highly stylish and striking.

“They’re all reversible,” Hernandez said. “And part of everything I make still goes to help local groups.”

These masks are a sampling of the original designs created by Sindy Hernandez, local fashion designer and owner of Queen’s Shoes. PHOTO: TARMO HANNULA

Hernandez said she has also donated hundreds of masks to those in need.

“It’s my way of giving back,” she said.

De Worken said he is experimenting with a new type of mask he calls the “synch mask.”

“I will feature a kind of slip knot that you can adjust and an extended neck guard, kind of like a handkerchief,” he said.

He said he was inspired with the idea when his glasses kept fogging up with other masks.

Besides the Farmers’ Market, De Worken said his line of hats, beanies, sweatshirts, mugs, pins, masks and stickers are now featured at the Chevron station on Lee Road and at the 7-Eleven at East Lake Avenue and Lincoln Street.

“What I really enjoy about this is the collaboration with all the other businesses I deal with to make this happen,” he said. “Dealing with them and my customers is about friendships.”


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Tarmo Hannula
Tarmo Hannula has been the lead photographer with The Pajaronian newspaper in Watsonville since 1997. He also reports on a wide range of topics, including police, fire, environment, schools, the arts and events. A fifth generation Californian, Tarmo was born in the Mother Lode of the Sierra (Columbia) and has lived in Santa Cruz County since the late 1970s. He earned a BA from UC Santa Cruz and has traveled to 33 countries.
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