The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone in ways we never could have imagined. With schools closed, domestic and international travel halted, and millions now on lockdown, people are trying different ways to cope with what is considered to be the "new normal". In order to protect others and yourself, face masks have been labeled as the new daily necessity especially when stepping out of the house. 

Art has always been an effective way to convey our desires and emotions and as humans we have this desire to showcase our personality and individualism. A designer from San Diego County has decided that the basic blue three-ply disposable mask just won't do.

Representing the Latino community

Sadly, the Latino community is one of the demographics with the highest infection rates in the US. The CDC has recommended the use of homemade protective masks to prevent the spread of the virus and Ashley Nell Tipton and her team have turned to designing face masks to boost the morale and send a positive image amongst the Hispanic community.

At just 24 years old, Tipton won Project Runway's 14th season by creating a clothing line for plus sized women. Her studio in Hillcrest is now producing hundreds of face masks with more and more new orders coming in every day. All of her designs are available on her website that include bandana masks, Loteria and french bulldog designs, as well as her Frida Kahlo masks which have sold out several times.

Several companies such as Trader Joe's and the Bumble dating app company have both ordered reusable masks from Tipton for their employees. 

Marisol Catchings, a designer from the Bay Area has also started to produce masks promoting her Afro Latin heritage. Before COVID-19 hit, Catchings used to visit Mexico every year to purchase fabric for her business Azteca Negra. She made earrings, necklaces, pins, and colorful hair accessories all available through her website. As the demand for the masks grew in the Bay Area, she started to make masks for some of her friends that worked in the hospitals and shortly after began mass producing them for the public. 

Both Tipton and Catching have produced and donated thousands of their masks to healthcare workers and first responders and will continue to do so.

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The pandemic's trendiest fashion accessory

Who would have thought that a basic mask could be a fashion accessory? Masks are going to be around for much longer until COVID-19 is no longer seen as a threat so might as well enjoy wearing it. Some people believe that face masks could even be part of our daily clothing ensemble long after COVID-19 fades away and can easily be a way to express one's personality.

The coronavirus has caused depression and a sense of sorrow in communities across the US, but designers like Tipton and Catchings believe that having these colorful masks can help ease the burden caused by the coronavirus by helping people feel secure, showcase their cultural identity, and promote love and happiness by simply wearing their colorful creations.