Once upon a time, during the cold month of March in a town by the sea, two women were running a successful embroidery and custom gift business. All was going well until one day, the world was shut down and… okay, enough! We all know what happened; we don’t need to hear the same sorrowful song again. Instead, this is the story about the joy that was created during this worldwide tragic pandemic, because we all know too well the hell we are all going through right now, so why not hear about a little joy? One morning, when the days blended together and the same sweatpants were on a continuous rotation, one of the shop owners, Marion, was ask to make a mask for someone special to her; someone who needed her spunk and positivity to create something not so scary, something that would bring a smile to someone's face rather than insight fear. So, she looked around her house and using whatever she could find, Marion grabbed some canvas she had from some stocked product and created the most cheerful mask she could: one with big beautiful, bright pink lips. Who wouldn’t smile when they saw someone coming down the street with that on? How could someone “smiling” make you feel scared? So she cut and sewed and deconstructed, cut and sewed some more and - Voila! The Lips Mask was born. It was pretty amazing and inspiring how Marion and her partner, Kate, were able to hustle so quickly to design and construct a strong and sturdy mask, all from the unsold product they had in their merchandise warehouse. But what is most impressive, is that they did it with heart and purpose: to repurpose material to make something that would make other people happy in a time where everyone was scared. They posted the picture to their website and instantly their social media was abuzz with demand for these masks. I think everyone appreciated the cheeky humor since nothing else in the world seemed to be making people laugh; they were dark days but The Lips Mask was the silver lining.
Flash forward a few weeks and what used to be Kate and Marion’s living and dining rooms now turned into maks making studios with shreds of fabric and sewing thread everywhere. In fact, there was such a large demand for the masks that they brought on another seamstress (and made more designs!) to help fulfill the orders. The tongue-in-cheek nature of their designs and the thoughtful and sturdy construction of the masks, makes them so desirable that they continued to thrive. Mask after mask, boxes and boxes of deliveries later, the little embroidery company was booming in a time when everything else seemed to stand still.
They thrived so much that as we entered warmer months, Marion and Kate decided that the canvas masks needed a little bit of a redesign. The material was perfect for Winter and Spring in New England, where temperatures can change hourly and it can even snow out of the blue (hey, remember when it snowed in May? I know I haven’t forgotten) but now as it warmed up they were realizing that a thinner, perhaps more breathable, material would be a better fit. Adjustable straps were a must with soft rubber stoppers, and the most beautiful and comfortably soft chambray material was used to create the Lips Mask 2.0. And it didn’t stop there! The kids! They of course couldn't forget about the kids! Taking their sweet little faces into consideration, they designed a mask that won't prohibit them from living their best lives. Now, with the most comfortable material and perfect contour, they still continued to create their cheeky designs with vibrant lips, mustaches and cigarettes, because if you can’t have a little fun wearing a mask, when can you? Joy is what was needed and joy is what we all craved. In the absence of human connection, we all lost our sense of joy and seeing someone wearing a mask with enviable pink lips, well, how can that not bring someone joy? This sentiment spread around Cece DuPraz like wildfire and while wanting to do our part to give back to communities, we created our 3-pack as part of our Give Back Program, where one mask is donated to the Northshore’s largest soup kitchen, My Brother’s Table. Without a mask, patrons of My Brother’s table have to be turned away and can’t receive the meal that they or their family desperately needs. To this day and thanks to our amazing customers, Cece DuPraz has donated over 100 masks to those in need.
They say if you plant a see and watch it grow, something magical will come along. In this case, in the midst of tragedy and fear, a small seed of joy was plated and an entire garden bloomed; a garden full of hope in a time of need and laughter amidst sadness. I don’t think anyone woke up those cold mornings in March thinking that a mask would become the most sought after necessity of the year. I also don’t think anyone could foresee just how long they will be part of our lives. So why not embrace it instead of fight it. Why not create as much happiness for those that are struggling by showing them that in these times we still can find inspiration, love, light and laughter; for without any of those, we are lost in a sea of darkness. But it was this moment of clarity back in March, this single need to make some happy that allowed for all of this wonderful magic to follow. Just as that one seed was planted, an entire garden grew full of joy, hope and laughter; one that allowed a business to thrive during some dark and difficult times and one that brought a smile to peoples’ faces’ when we needed it most. And think all of this joy was created once upon a mask.