Handcrafted face masks / Getty Creative
The long-awaited return to normalcy brightens the lives of millions of Americans, but some who made fortunes from the pandemic… are celebrating less.
This is the case of mask makers, such as Gabriela Henriquez, who was selling them on the Etsy platform throughout the year when they became an essential element of the wardrobe.
Henriquez, 27, told CNN that orders for handmade masks from his Etsy store, LittleLadyAHomemade, fell more than 70% the day after the announcement from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). ) on May 13 that the use of these was not necessary in fully vaccinated people, except in some circumstances.
“The market just fell,” he said. “I had a phenomenal sales last year. Now what? Where do we go from here?” Wondered the young woman who lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and invested $ 150,000 in making masks.
A boom that one day had to end
Actually, it was predictable. In early May, Etsy said in an annual filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it had seen “demand for certain items, such as handmade masks, decrease significantly with the launch of the vaccine.”
The platform had previously reported that cloth masks became the most popular new product category on its platform last summer. As of August, 110,000 sellers on Etsy had sold as many as 29 million face masks, for a total of $ 346 million.
“Last year, at our peak, we sold 1,300 masks in one day,” Henríquez said.
He ended the year with $ 212,000 in sales. The young businesswoman knew that the demand would decrease with the arrival of vaccines, but did not foresee that it would be so drastic. “I thought people would still need some kind of face covering when they go indoors,” he commented.
That’s why it started making lightweight, breathable muslin masks, aimed at vaccinated people, priced from $ 5 to $ 9, which sold well until the CDC announcement.
That change forced her to find other uses for muslin fabrics and now she designs products such as baby carriers.
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The demand for artisan masks has fallen sharply in the US. Photo: Getty Images.
In search of alternatives
Charlotte Melcher has also had to redirect her shop, MasksByStella, which she opened on Etsy in January this year with the goal of selling masks. The answer was not what he had anticipated.
“The mask market was saturated, there was a Covid depletion, and I was surprised it wasn’t getting the traction I was hoping for,” said Melcher, 36, who lives in Mesa, Arizona.
The woman now found a very peculiar destination for her creative impulses: chicken aprons, after a conversation with the owner of a local poultry food store.
“She said she needed to sell them in her store and that she should seriously investigate it,” said Melcher, who owns chickens and is familiar with the peculiar item.
The apron looks like a small baby bib that is worn at the back rather than the front and on the chest to protect the feathers of chickens and the skin of roosters during mating.
Ashley Bell has also had to restructure the mask-selling business she started after losing her job at a software company last summer.
“I’m looking for smaller hand-sewn items like bags and ultimately clothing,” Bell told CNN.
Jacki and Katie Shaw – mother and daughter – also experienced a drop in sales as a result of the CDC announcement. They launched their Etsy shop MamaShawStitchery last July to sell hand-sewn fabric masks and created a catalog of 300 prints sold in five sizes.
From July to December 2020, his business posted $ 13,000 in sales. So far this year and through early May, they’ve made an additional $ 15,000 in sales. Sales fell significantly two to three days after the new CDC guidelines.
“As long as we have an excess of yards [de tela] We can keep making masks and ancillary products like hair ties and cloth covers for their sanitizer bottles, “Katie said.” We’re trying to be strategic, maybe making baby products like bibs and burp cloths. “