Young mask maker inundated with orders
Ten-year-old Azari Jones has a certain gift for sewing.
She got her first sewing machine at just two years old, and sold her first handmade doll outfits at eight.
Now the Dalton E Tucker student is putting her talents to work selling face masks to help stop the spread of Covid-19.
“At first I wanted to try to make my own because I had heard of the coronavirus and then started making them for friends and friends,” she said.
When she first started looking into the masks, she wasn't really thinking about filling a niche.
“I don't think there was a shortage on the island at that time,” she said.
She just wanted to do it for the challenge.
She still had a lot of fabric left over from the days when she made doll clothes. She took a break from that two years ago to focus more on aprons.
“I learnt how to sew masks from watching a YouTube video,” Azari said. “It was very easy to make the masks. There wasn't anything difficult about it. And it got easier as I went along.”
When her mother, Renee Jones, sent out a Whatsapp message about the masks, they were flooded with requests.
“Once they saw it, they all wanted her to make masks for them,” Ms Jones said. “My sister put it on Facebook, and after that it went viral. People didn't just want one, they wanted five.”
It takes Azari about 20 minutes to make a mask. So far, she has made about 40 in a week, out of cotton fabric. She is selling them, to friends and family, for about $10 a piece.
They are meant to be rewashed and reused.
Some of her work has been bought by people in the medical profession.
Mrs Jones said the hardest thing for her daughter has been just keeping up with all the orders.
“We had a lot of requests that came through on Facebook,” she said. “I have been trying to not overwhelm her with too many. She can get a little frustrated the thread breaks or her machine acts up. Then she has to take a break.”
Ms Jones said Azari first started making clothes for her American Girl dolls because the fabric was so expensive to buy.
“She started doing it because the clothes were so expensive,” Mrs Jones said. “Every time a Gibbons Company sale came up we'd go and buy fabric.”
Now they are using those prints, tie dyes, Star Wars themes, African fabric, for the masks.
So far Azari has sewn them during school break, so it hasn't interfered with her studies at all.
In previous years, Azari has sold her work at a Klassiq Kidz Kidpreneur Extravaganza sponsored by the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation.
But as much as she loves to sew, her dream is to become a physiotherapist.
“I like to run and train and help people,” she said.
Azari hopes to use the money she earns from the masks to travel.
“She would have wanted to use the money to travel with her track club again this year,” Ms Jones said. “Last year she had the opportunity to go on three overseas meets with Bermuda Pacers when they travelled to Canada, North Carolina and Tennessee. Last year she raised almost $1,000 fundraising and selling various items, plus her school had a grub day in order to assist her towards her trips.”
Her mother declined to give contact details, saying that at the moment Azari is working on the orders she has.