As the pandemic stretches on, face masks are an increasingly common sight in public.
Now many Americans are looking online for cute face masks that show off their personalities and style while still protecting others in public.
If you have basic sewing or crafting skills, you can take advantage of the demand for cloth masks by making your own to sell online. Here’s what you’ll need to know.
How to Make Fabric Masks
You’ll find many cloth mask patterns and guides available online, so you might have to search for the best one for your skill level and the type of supplies you have. The one I’ve used was provided by a local hospital, which included instructions in a Google Doc and a video tutorial on YouTube.
My sewing skills are basic and I haven’t done much sewing since I had kids more than five years ago, but even I was able to pick it up fairly quickly. I use a sewing machine, quilter’s cotton, elastic and thread. After some practice, I got it down to about 15 minutes per mask (not including the time to cut the fabric).
We’ve compiled some resources to help you find a good face mask option that matches your skill level, including two no-sew options.
What to Consider When Making DIY Face Masks
Keep in mind that when making face masks to sell, you’ll need to make sure they are good quality. Here are some tips to help you ensure you’ll make masks people will actually want to buy
Choose Your Fabric Carefully
The CDC recommends using tightly woven cotton fabric to make masks. Anything with a loose weave is more likely to allow droplets through, making the mask less effective.
You’ll also need to consider the fabric pattern. Look for unique fabric or patterns that will appeal to certain groups of people, such as dog lovers, kids or comic book fans.
Pre-Wash Your Fabric Before You Cut It
Pre-wash your fabric before cutting it for masks, which will get rid of any surface chemicals. It will also take care of any shrinkage that might occur when laundering. If you make your masks without pre-washing, they will shrink in the wash and come out looking misshapen.
Practice Makes Perfect
Before selling your masks, make sure you have had enough practice making them. You might choose to provide free masks to your family members and close friends free of charge to help protect them when they are out in public.
Making the first few for free will give you plenty of practice so when you’re ready to sell your masks, you can make them as well-constructed as possible.
How to Set Your Price
Once you’re comfortable making face masks, it’s time to start thinking about how much you will want to charge for them.
Price Your Materials
At the very least, you’ll want to make back the money you spent on mask-making materials. Your costs will vary depending on the material you’re using. Some fabric will be more expensive than others, depending on the pattern. For example, I bought some basic cotton fabric for cheap to make masks for myself and my husband, but the Frozen material I bought for my daughter was more expensive because it was officially licensed.
Price Your Time
How long does it take you to make a mask? It might be five minutes, twenty minutes or longer depending on your skill level and the speed at which you work.
If you want to make $20 per hour and it takes you 15 minutes to make a mask, you can say that your time cost is $5 per mask.
Do Some Market Research
How much are masks selling for on average? You don’t want to price your masks too high if your competition is offering theirs for a much lower price.
Check online to see how much masks are going for and use that information to determine how much you’re comfortable listing your masks for.
Don’t Forget Shipping
If you sell your masks online, you’ll need to consider shipping. Many online selling sites will add shipping to your list price, but if you sell through your own site you’ll have to factor in shipping to your final listing price.
How to Sell Your DIY Face Masks
Once you have a decent-sized inventory, it’s time to start selling. You’ll need to think of where you want to sell your masks and how to market them.
Choose an Online Platform
There are plenty of options when it comes to selling goods online, and not just the better-known ones like Etsy, eBay and Amazon. Here are 15 places where you can sell your stuff online.
Online flea markets are another good option, but you’ll need to make sure the one you choose allows you to sell handmade items.
You can also consider options like Shopify and Squarespace, which give you your own store to manage instead of having you set up an account on a third-party site. Be aware that having your own online store carries some associated costs, so you’ll need to do your homework to make sure you’re not spending all your profits on your web-hosting platform.
Make Your Listing Appealing
When you are ready to list your masks, make sure your listings are easy to understand and feature good, clear photos of your masks.
The description should include details about the fabric, measurements and important facts like whether or not the mask has a pocket to add a filter. Write clearly and concisely, and use use keywords so your prospective customers will find your listing.
Take your photos in a well-lit area where the mask’s colors show up well. If possible, use a human to model how the mask fits. You can also take pictures of the mask lying flat on a table and folded up to make sure customers can see how the mask looks from the front and the sides.
Publicize Your Offerings
Once you’ve got your shop up and running, your next step is to share your shop. Post the link on your own social media platforms, and ask friends and family to share it with anyone they know who is interested in buying masks.
As the pandemic continues, the demand for cloth masks is likely to remain fairly high. Using your sewing skills to sell masks can help you earn some extra money – and keep others safe – during this time.
Cat Hiles is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.