Andrea Caprio designed sportswear for many years. Paying close attention to what people are looking for in the day-to-day wardrobe, and how different clothes and a good fit makes them feel and look good she also realized that many people need help. Not just in creating their individual style but by simply not having the time to shop. After multiple requests from family and friends, coworkers and frustrated women in dressing rooms, she decided to launch her personal style company.
When she became a part of ETTWomen, we were thrilled to receive her strutting leopard print and rocking red lips. What’s been most rewarding is seeing how relying on her talents, she jumped into action sewing much needed protective gear for our community and most importantly, our front line workers.
Andrea Caprio shares her story in her own words:
It’s day 20+ of making masks day and night. I have completely dug my heals into this project. All in!
My husband is a CRNA at a local hospital and all his pals and coworkers started asking for cloth masks to wear over their n95’s.
I found myself sitting in front of the news night after night getting way too anxious. I quickly realized I had a skill that could really help.
Being a designer in the garment center for almost 20 years was about to come in handy. I went in my basement and set up shop. I got my juki machine fired up and started creating masks and sending them in to work with my husband.
I tried making a few kinds. I only had one type of elastic so I quickly figured out those weren’t going to work. I decided on making my own pattern for a simple tie back face mask that could be adjusted to every head. 100% cotton, washable and super durable.
I began to choose specific prints to match specific personalities (I’m a stylist, I can’t help it). Everyday my husband would come home and tell me who liked what and who chose which -I was getting requests for prints from cherries to globes to florals and everything in between.
Soon, I was finding myself waking up and going right to my machine with lists of requests. As the corona news worsened, I was relying on working on masks feverishly to get through the day without having a meltdown.
The masks were being received by first responders all over the hospital. Men and women were requesting them and I could barely get them out fast enough.
Everyone was so appreciative. My husband’s feedback kept me sewing. He would tell me things like, ‘The nurses loved the colors and prints, it was their little bit of happiness today.’ or ‘The masks brought smiling faces.’
The word started to spread, and before Andre knew it, she was sewing masks for fire fighters, nurses all the way in Massachusetts, mail carriers, pilots, builders, painters, and more. She goes on:
I had posted a few pics of my masks on Facebook and my old boss from my designing days posted a comment saying ‘That’s so you.’ Seems simple but he was right, it is so me. It’s the most me I’ve ever been.
Everything seemed to just fit she continues to explain. Andrea felt an overwhelming sense of accomplishment and pride sitting behind her machine sewing masks. There was a moment where she realized she had been utilizing everything she had learned, doing something she truly enjoyed, and having the pleasure of helping others. One of those mind blowing moments. Her perfect storm.
She started making masks for family and friends and shipping out piles of boxes every other day.
I was so afraid I would forget someone. Once the boxes arrived I started getting heart felt notes, messages and thank you’s. People started flooding my email and text with selfies wearing my masks. It was so beautiful. All those happy faces in this crappy uncertain time kept me going. It fueled my desire to keep making masks and shipping them out.
People were so gracious and appreciative. I started getting goodies in the mail and donations for fabric and supplies. The scarier the news became the more I wanted to sew.
Shortly after, Andrea started getting requests for headbands from the nurses. They were showing her pics of there bruised faces and ears from there n95 masks. They needed to relive tension from the ears while working . Someone sent me a headband with buttons and asked if she could make them.
How could I not? My sister and bestie sprung into action, located headbands and dropped them off for me to sew on the buttons. Batches of these went out in between masks.
I can’t even begin to tell you how appreciative everyone is and was. It’s amazing how in crisis most people really step up to help. This has all been very revealing to me: who steps up and who doesn’t.
She ends by sharing that there are more people who ask for 2 and pay for 10 masks. These are the people who rally, these are the people who make her want to help. These are the people who are risking their lives for us, these are the people she loves.