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San Francisco fashion designer from Dunkirk donates around the country

Making the masks

Amy Kuschel is pictured modeling one of the masks she designed. Submitted Photo.

Amy Kuschel is a fashion designer and entrepreneur in San Francisco, but her roots are in Dunkirk, which is what inspired her to donate her designer masks to the area and around the country.

Graduating from Dunkirk Senior High School in 1986, Kuschel took up fashion design at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology, where she is a graduate from as well. For many years, Kuschel designed for several companies in New York and California, before starting her own fashion line.

With the pandemic affecting everyone in the country and world, Keschel felt inspired to start making masks for sale on her website and to donate. For donation purposes, Kuschel started a GoFundMe drive with a goal to raise enough money to make 2,500 masks. The fundraiser has since blossomed, so Kuschel was able to donate even more masks than initially planned. Some people have even sent personal checks directly to Kuschel to donate to the fund.

“With our inventory of fabric, a can-do attitude, and so much support from the community, we’ve made and donated over 4,000 masks to do-gooders across the country,” said Kuschel. “We have another 1,000 plus masks in work now, thanks due to additional donations that have come in.”

The cloth masks fit over N95 masks healthcare professionals are already wearing, extending their effective life during this time of desperate need and scarce supply. The masks can also be worn on their own to prevent the spread of the virus when going out in public.

“We’re donating to firefighters, paramedics, police officers, doctors, nurses of course, people working in senior centers, and anyone that feels that a donation of masks would be appropriate,” said Kuschel.

Donations were also made to western New York facilities, including nurses at Brooks Memorial Hospital, caregivers at Chautauqua Nursing & Rehab Center, and Chautauqua Center clinics.

Kuschel is also making “Let’s Face It” masks, which are being sold on her website for the general public. “They’ve really helped support our small business, It’s a great way for us to stay afloat during this time period,” she said. “It’s also a great way for us to stay safe and protect each other by wearing them when we go to the grocery store, or to our doctors appointments.”

Kuschel and her team worked hard to get the perfect design, fit and material for the masks. The masks are reusable, with an outer layer of hemp and organic cotton, and an inner double lining of natural, finely woven organic cotton poplin. They even have metal liner on the top and bottom of the masks to achieve a perfect fit around the nose, cheeks, and chin.

In a raving review of the masks, one person, Hollie wrote on line: “My husband loves these masks. He is an essential worker and hated the cheap masks his company provided him. We found your website and fell in love with the style and material. It was so worth it! They are comfortable and fit his face perfectly; there is no gap so it doesn’t fog up his glasses. We even placed a second order before they were sold out.”

Kuschel was happy to reconnect with Western New York, “Reconnecting with old friends, family, and clients — as well as meeting strangers willing to help out — has been a ray of sunshine during this uncertain time.”

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