We have all had to adapt to what is being called the “new normal.” Social distancing, hand sanitizer at the ready, birthday caravans instead of cake, and food delivery or curbside pickup of your wine and spirits instead of going out to eat.
Another new normal is seeing people everywhere donned in personal protective equipment, masks of all shapes and sizes from paper jobs with earloops to a litany of numerically rated masks from the N95 to P100 respirators.
This week, we learned that New York State is instituting an executive order for all persons will have to wear a mask in situations where you can’t maintain social distancing of at least six feet, that includes public transportation and crowded streets. And, this might be the reality for us for the next 12-18 months.
Photo: Tandy Wear Facebook page.
But, just because we have to wear a mask for our own safety and the safety of others, doesn’t mean we can’t look good while doing it. (And raise some money for a good cause at the same time.)
That’s what Tandy Jeckel, owner of a Commack women’s boutique called Tandy Wear, thought. Right from the beginning she knew that everyone should and would be wearing protective masks.
“I believed that people should be wearing masks,” she told LongIsland.com in a phone interview.
Jeckel, who lives in Commack with her husband and three kids, thought that the ubiquitous paper masks were terrible. They make breathing difficult and uncomfortable.
“And I know women,” she said.
They would comply with wearing masks but wanted them to be fashionable.
Jeckel started her fashion company 25 years ago selling t-shirts from her trunk to boutiques and hair salons across Long Island. She opened up her store at 89 Commack Road about six years ago specializing in women and juniors clothing and accessories.
“It’s a mother and daughter store,” she explained. “We personalize everybody’s style in all sizes.”
She described her staff as fashion therapists.
“I love to help people,” Jeckel said. “We love to make people think outside the box. What they see themselves as we see them differently.”
That think different mentality is what led Jeckel to start offering masks in fashionable styles.
Photo: Tandy Wear Facebook page.
Like so many small businesses, Jeckel’s small business suffered from the coronavirus enforced shutdown. She pivoted to her online business and social media. She also struggled with how she could give back.
“I didn’t want to be on the sidelines,” she said.
She found the sweet spot between her love of fashionable accessories and the need for protective gear.
The masks retail for $10 each and about 20% of the cost goes toward Meal Train, to donate lunches to local hospitals for frontline workers. And, they are all made in the USA.
Demand has been coming from individuals buying for themselves and shipping them to relatives and from other businesses that need to supply them for workers like restaurants.
The most popular styles have been Burberry plaid and animal skin prints like leopard and snakeskin (which might be attributed to the viral Netflix series Tiger King.)
All in all the masks have been a big hit and Jeckel is busy filling orders, shipping them out or providing curbside pickup service. Since April 2nd, she estimates she has shipped out over a thousand masks.
“I didn’t realize it would be such a big trend,” she said. “People need them and people need to wear them.”