Graphic illustration by Jason Shan
Masks have been “all the rage” since the start of the pandemic and will remain so for at least the next few months, so why not make them fashionable? That’s what junior Victoria Hwu decided to do by merging her art skills with helping others stay safe through selling homemade masks on her Etsy shop, Craftablelove.
Hwu arrived at the idea of starting an online business a few months into the school year when she realized that some of her friends were starting their own projects. Realizing that her talents could also be used for the betterment of the community, Hwu researched the process of setting up an Etsy shop. Her friend, who also owns an Etsy shop, helped guide her through the process. Others also supported her by promoting her handicrafts through their social media accounts.
Apart from being good-looking, these fashion statements are practical as well. Surgical masks can be inserted between the two fabric layers of her face masks for greater protection. Not only does Hwu hope these masks can benefit the community, but she also donates all proceeds to charities. Currently, the charity of choice is the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
“It’s really nice to know that what I’m doing can benefit people,” Hwu said. “Even though it’s a small difference, I’m still doing what I can to help out with the world.”
Additionally, Hwu doesn’t only sell masks. Her other products include tie-dye drawstring bags, custom hoodies and sweaters as well as photo cards. Many of her products are posted on her Instagram page, the main platform she uses to publicize her shop, which she also takes orders through for those in the local community.
Hwu draws inspiration from a variety of sources. Sometimes her friends recommend a neat idea or she browses the arts and crafts online community. After the conception of the craft or upon receiving an order, she gets started on the making of the product itself. Face masks usually take about one hour to sew, while the other merchandise may vary depending on their complexity and creation process. Hwu likes to experiment with different styles and designs to find the perfect one. After the design is complete, Hwu ships the product through UPS.
Since the opening of her store, Hwu has made around nine sales, with three glowing reviews about her custom masks. Her favorite sale has been the mask with a Rilakkuma design, which is a Japanese character whose name translates to “relaxed bear.”
The journey to starting her own Etsy shop has largely been smooth sailing, with no major hurdles. While sales have died down, Hwu is glad she is able to provide in any way she can, and the past few months have given her a greater sense of responsibility.
“Art is something that you want to be proud of and feel good about when shipping it out or selling it,” Hwu said. “You feel responsible for every sale you make because in a way, it represents you.”
What she has in store for the shop is yet to be seen, but her current plans are to continue the shop throughout high school in her free time.
Much like her shop name, Craftablelove, Hwu hopes her handmade crafts are able to spread joy to those who buy them.