Voices From the Crisis: Meaghan Daly masks the ‘scared and frantic’
NEWARK – Until recently, Meaghan Daly was splitting her time between planning events for this publication and pursuing a fashion “side hustle” that had earned her some visibility in British Vogue, New York Fashion Week (three times) and the Penn State Fashion Society for her Meaghan Paige clothing line.
Back in early March, however, some friends asked her if she could sew cloth protective masks for them. A few weeks later, she found herself looking for ways to spend her day.
“I can relate to a lot of people who are out of work,” said Daly, who’s now working “full time” on the new product line. “People need masks but they’re expensive. I see how in demand they are and how scared and frantic people are. I wanted to offer them free, so I added them to my online shop” at www.meaghanpaige.com
She’s only charging buyers for shipping and recently began accepting donations to cover her costs. She’s received enough to pay for the more than 600 masks she’s already made – including 25 for a warehouse in Philadelphia, 40 for St. Francis Hospital in Wilmington where her mom works, and another 20 that are going to a Delaware senior-care facility.
Daly says she had a lot of fabric from her other design projects to get started. She needed elastic but had to order 250 yards of it on Esty from someone in California who said it would take two weeks to deliver. So she headed out to get hair bands from CVS, the Dollar Store, and JoAnn’s Fabrics to tide her over. Her expenses also include ink to print shipping labels since she limits individual orders to two per customer.
A recent article in a Penn State alumni publication resulted in another 100 orders for Daly, who graduated from Penn State Brandywine with a degree in communication arts and sciences and spent a Spring Break in France, taking photos of classmates modeling her designs in front of places like the Eiffel Tower.
Her goal with the masks is to create something to brighten people’s days.
“I wanted to create something fun – a fashion statement – that people would enjoy wearing,” she said, explaining that her inspiration was multi-colored masks on Instagram being made by American designer Christian Siriano.
She’s now considering whether to turn the masks into a business, since she’s sees them advertised for $10 to $15 each on different sites.
“My dad is on one shoulder taking the business view that I should be charging. My mom is on the other shoulder saying I’m helping humanity,” she says with a smile. “I understand both sides. I have to decide between a business frame of mind or a ‘Catholic’ point of view. Donations are sustaining this for the time being. If demand accelerates, I may need to charge, particularly if I need help filling the order.