LONACONING — Mindy Wilkinson says she’s just trying to fill a need.
The owner of She’s So Pretty, a clothing alteration store, is working on designs for face masks with clear fronts that can be used within the hearing impaired community for reading lips while staying safe.
“I like the challenge of coming up with something that’s washable and wearable and still functions,” Wilkinson said. “The hearing impaired community, if they can get ahold of those face shields, that would be ideal, but I don’t think they’re available right now.”
The idea started as a request from Wilkinson’s friend in Virginia who is a Girl Scout leader with multiple hearing impaired girls in her troop.
“I think she was trying to start thinking ahead for when they can start doing activities together; she wanted to have a few masks so the girls could read her lips,” Wilkinson said.
While she is working on various styles, the main masks are made from clear vinyl for the mouth part with a cotton fabric base and elastic pieces for the ears.
“They take a hot minute to make; they’re not quite as easy as the fabric masks,” said Wilkinson, who’s been a professional seamstress for 25-plus years and has run She’s So Pretty for 12. “I just ordered some nose pieces because I feel like the hearing impaired ones you have to have the shape around the nose or the vinyl doesn’t stick far enough from you face.”
The masks won’t be machine washable, due to the vinyl potentially melting, but will be hand washable and wipeable.
Wilkinson said she’s already had requests from her friend in Virginia and a friend who’s an American Sign Language teacher in Baltimore that she plans to fulfill while trying to perfect the clear mask.
And while for the moment Wilkinson has a pay it forward area on the She’s So Pretty Square account for the regular fabric masks, where customers can buy masks for others, she said she plans to put up something similar for the clear masks once she has the design all worked out.
Follow staff writer Brandon Glass on Twitter @Bglass13.