Esé Azénabor Grembowski is a Dallas-based couture wedding gown designer who creates one-of-a-kind looks to give brides the wedding day of their dreams. The self-taught designer launched her fashion house, Esé Azénabor Atelier, in 2012, but now she and her team are creating masks for health care workers fighting the COVID-19 pandemic in hospitals across the country.
Rolling out spoke with the designer about her mask production goals and how people can help.
What inspired you to create masks for hospitals?
I saw this post on Facebook announcing the shortage of masks and calling out anyone who knows how to sew to help make masks and donate [them] to hospitals. My husband was like. “We can afford to pay our employees for two more weeks so that they can come in and work.”
It started with 500 masks. When we announced that we were going to donate these, we got requests and photos of nurses and doctors wearing bandanas in New York and Dallas and even in Paris emailing us asking for help. I have a lot of family members who are doctors and nurses as well, and so this rang home for me. My sister came up with the idea to start a GoFundMe and get the public involved.
How do you know the masks will be effective?
I did a lot of research. We chose 100 percent cotton because it’s a thick material but it’s breathable. We doubled the first layer and put another layer in the back, and in between, there is a pocket with a filter. I researched what kind of filters the N95 masks used and found out they are 3M, but they were sold out everywhere. I thought about what would protect you from a virus. Plastic would protect, however, it’s not breathable. I thought about garment bag material, which is a vinyl canvas like plastic but it’s breathable. You can pour water on it, and it won’t leak. We started lining it in the masks, but we left a pocket so that when the hospitals get them, they can put in their filter if they want to. For the general public, this is good protection.
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