The increased demand for masks throughout the past year has been an opportunity for Aussies to support and give back to local businesses, community organisations and First Nations people.
If you’re still on the lookout for a protective face covering and want to avoid the queues at a chemist or fashion chain, here are some designs you can order online that will support Indigenous Australian artists and communities, migrants and refugees.
Founded by Aboriginal and Torrest Strait Islander man Dion Devow, Darkies Designs is distributing two lines of face masks in conjunction with Supply Aus.
One line features artwork by Indigenous artist Marcus Mcgregor-Cassidy created in a mixture of cotton, nylon and polyester. The handmade cotton line is the work of an Aboriginal women’s group from Birpi Country in Northern NSW near Taree. The group is led by Megan Williams.
“The demand is huge at the moment,” Devow told HuffPost Australia, explaining that four to five Aboriginal women are making around 1000 masks a week.
Saying it’s “very important” to support Indigenous businesses and artists at a time like this, he said, “some of these women have not worked in over 20 years, and some are unable to work due to illness or disability.
“Megan has MS and has been unable to work as a result, and she has stated that to make these masks has given her and the women so much confidence and they are proud to be supplying the masks to people all around Australia.”
To order these masks, send an email to email@example.com
Kangaroo Jack is selling 100% cotton non-surgical masks that are handmade in Melbourne by small businesses. The face coverings, featuring artwork by Indigenous artist Faye Oliver, are washable with a durable double layer that is interchangeable.
Kangaroo Jack donates 15% of face mask sales to the Wadawurrung Indigenous Community at the Narana Aboriginal Cultural Centre in Victoria. It is a not-for-profit organisation that facilitates Indigenous educational programs for Australian school students and disadvantaged Indigenous youth.
The business’s owner, David Zaffina, told HuffPost Australia that “sales have been unbelievable,” with 250 masks sold in the past week.
To order these masks, click here.
Yarli Creative, founded by Yorta Yorta, Dja Dja Wurrung and Gamilaroi woman Madison Connors, is selling masks made of Aerocorp Breathable Polyester with a 100% cotton fabric lining. Each mask features a Yarli Creative original Aboriginal artwork print.
Of the presale profits, 40% is going to Elizabeth Morgan House, an Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation that provides refuge accommodation and specialist family violence services to Aboriginal women and their children.
There are four main designs: Nitel (which translates to gather in Yorta Yorta language), Mulana Dreamings (Mulana translates to spirit in Yorta Yorta language) and Power of Solidarity which comes in two colour variations.
Connors said it’s “incredibly important” to support Indigenous Australian businesses during the pandemic.
“Everyone can celebrate and promote examples of Blak excellence through various platforms. There are so many diverse and inspiring First Nations businesses across Australia that we can be supporting,” she said.
“If you want to know of more First Nations businesses you can support, start by following Instagram accounts such as @ngarrimili, @tradingblak and @blakbusiness. They share and promote authentic Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses.
To order the Yarli Creative masks, click here.
Victoria-based business Alperstein Designs is not Aboriginal-owned; however it works with Aboriginal art centre Warlukurlangu Artists, paying Aboriginal artists royalties if their licensed artwork is used on a mask.
“Art in remote communities has always provided one of the most important appropriate activities and income streams for remote Indigenous Australians, Cecilia Alfonso, manager of Warlukurlangu Artists told HuffPost Australia.
“This is of course under threat with the current health and economic climate so we hope that Australians don’t forget us in these very trying times for so many.”
The Aboriginal Art reusable masks are Australian made, 100% cotton and feature a filter pocket on the inside of the mask.
“The demand has been huge,” said Marc Alperstein from Alperstein Designs. “We currently are doing bulk drop each week which are getting cleared out in a few hours.”
While the masks are currently sold out, you can be notified of when they’re back in stock by registering here.
SisterWorks is a not-for-profit based in Melbourne that provides employment and training opportunities for women from new migrant, refugee and asylum-seeker backgrounds.
The organisation has said increased demand for masks has been an opportunity for more of these women to work during what’s been a very challenging time.
“It’s definitely a silver lining kind of situation, where some of the sisters’ husbands have lost jobs and are not working anymore,” Ifrin Fittock, chief executive of SisterWorks, told SBS.
These masks feature one external layer of water-resistant fabric, a middle layer of poly-cotton and an internal 100% cotton layer.
To order these masks, click here.
The Social Outfit is an ethical trading organisation that provides fashion industry employment and training to people from refugee and new migrant communities.
According to its website, each mask purchased provides “employment to our sewing technicians from refugee backgrounds”, while “for each face mask you buy, we will donate one to a person in need”.
The washable masks have wire for shaping around the nose, though they are also sold out at the moment. Register to be notified when these are back in stock here.