Once word went around that face masks would become mandatory, a Melbourne husband and wife began threading the needle.
Janet Tesoriero pulled out her sewing machine and using left over material from around the house quickly whipped up seven masks.
Her husband Steve Tesoriero taped the bagged masks to the fence of their Albert Park home last Wednesday, offering them for free to those who needed them before the new rules kicked in within Melbourne and Mitchell Shire a day later.
‘Knowing that we live in a neighbourhood with a slightly older population, we wanted to get masks to be accessible for people that couldn’t maybe get to the store or afford them as easily as others,’ Ms Tesoriero, who is an out-of-work musical theatre performer amid the pandemic, told AAP on Monday.
‘I am a sewer and we have a lot of fabric in the house, so I thought it was an opportunity to take some of our time and help some people.’
Within minutes strangers snapped up the handmade masks and it was back to the tools for the Tesorieros to cut more fabric.
Then Mr Tesoriero decided to up the ante, building an old-style clothes line on the nature strip and pegging the masks to it along with signage advertising their colourful wares.
In just six days the couple has made about 500 masks – the first ones taking 30 minutes apiece before perfecting their technique and cutting it down to 20 minutes.
They are now producing up to 70 masks a day and the customers keep coming.
The couple hasn’t been to bed before 3am since starting their cottage industry and have strangers knocking on their door just five hours later wanting the bespoke face coverings.
‘Well considering musical theatre is probably going to be on the backburner as long as this is going on, we are going to be making them (masks) as long as people need them,’ Ms Tesoriero said.
The local community has got on board donating fabric, elastic, bags and even care packages to sustain the crafty couple as they labour into the early hours.
People are even calling up to request different sizes.
As an added bonus the Tesorieros’ generosity and community spirit has brought people out of the woodwork.
‘We’re hearing a lot from the neighbourhood – the neighbourhood just needed something like this right now, something to feel good about it,’ Mr Tesoriero said.
‘More than the masks themselves, it’s just this camaraderie or spirit that we hadn’t noticed in the neighbourhood until this happened.’
For those keen to support the project, masks can be ordered online for $10 a piece, with the funds raised going back into the cost of production.
Grab a reusuable mask at https://curiousand.co/masks.