These days, we place our faith in small rectangles of fabric to stop the spread of a virus that could destroy our lives. Most of us own not just one face mask, but several ― one for every trip to the store or encounter with someone outside of our circle ― meaning one individual could need a dozen or so masks in their arsenal.
Make-your-own face mask tutorials were ubiquitous online when the pandemic first hit, but they fell on deaf ears for the non-crafters of the world, who’ve instead depended on online face mask retailers. And one of the most popular destinations has been Etsy, the global online marketplace for makers.
Within days of the CDC’s April 3 recommendation that people wear cloth face coverings, Etsy mobilized 20,000 sellers and had 60,000 selling masks by the end of April. In April alone, Etsy sold 12 million face masks, generating $133 million of gross merchandise sales. And as the need to wear coverings continues, Etsy face mask sales have likely increased significantly since those Q1 earnings figures were released.
But who exactly is making these masks? And how much money do they really make? Do these exhausted makers ever get to take a break from churning out masks on their sewing machines? And what made them choose to sell face masks in the first place?
We reached out to five Etsy shop owners to find out. What follows uncovers the truly human side behind these makers (and some transparent financial insights, too).
The Working Mom With Her Family’s Health At Stake
While some Etsy shops sell masks for no particularly reason ― one maker told HuffPost, “I just love cute prints and like to make things with such fabric for pleasure” ― others feel intense pressure to contribute to a cause that hits close to home.
Rickeysha Godfrey is behind the Etsy shop ByKeeksWithLove, which was never the Sebring, Florida, resident’s primary source of income ― she left her first career as a corporate lawyer to become a teacher...