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In times of crisis, such as the current Covid-19 pandemic, it is often those who are willing to adapt and innovate who soften the blow.

As the effects of the virus have become more widespread, Rotorua make-up and tattoo artist Sara Fitzell, owner of S.F INKorporated, has had to shut up shop.

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While naturally concerned about how to get by without any customers, she quickly found a new way to keep busy, creating fashionable face masks.

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"It came about by accident," Fitzell said.

"With the situation at hand, I've had to stop my work, with beauty and that being close contact it had to stop.

"I went to go and buy face masks, to top up, and they were all sold out but the places they aren't are really expensive. So I went into town, bought some medical gauze and fabric, and made my own."

Sara Fitzell's custom made face masks come in a range of styles. Photo / Supplied
Sara Fitzell's custom made face masks come in a range of styles. Photo / Supplied

Those who saw Fitzell wearing her own mask wanted to know where she got it and if they could buy one for themselves. She is now making the masks in a range of different designs and selling them, $10 for adults and $8 for children.

She carefully cleans and sanitises her hands as well as her work area between each mask.

"I find the medical ones actually look quite scary on people, you feel like they look like they have something. So I just thought I'd make myself one that didn't look so medical. Now, all of a sudden, I'm inundated with orders. I'm probably up to 150 orders, with messages still coming through.

"I had parents ask how they could even get their kids to wear a mask and I get that, I come from a family with autistic children. All I'm telling parents is show them a picture or video of a ninja or super hero who wear a mask and that they wear them to stay safe from other people.

"It is all people, all ages, and mainly people who need to pop out and do shopping and stuff but don't feel comfortable in the current situation. There are people who actually look after their parents too, they wear them to help make sure they're safe."

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Fitzell said it was important to her to find silver linings in any situation.

"That's why I've done them in a range of funky patterns, it lightens up what they're for and makes things a little bit more comfortable.

Rotorua's Sara Fitzell has designed and created her own range of stylish face masks amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Photo / Supplied
Rotorua's Sara Fitzell has designed and created her own range of stylish face masks amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Photo / Supplied

"Everyone is scared, this is one of those things that hasn't just affected one group of people, it doesn't matter if you're rich or poor, this situation affects everyone."

Who should wear a face mask?

The New Zealand Ministry of Health website says the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), such as face masks, can reduce the spread of infection when used correctly and in the appropriate context.

If you are unwell or have a job which requires you to be in close contact with people who may have coronavirus, it is recommended you use a face mask. It is important that face masks are worn and removed correctly. Masks should fit snugly and fully cover your nose and mouth.

How to correctly wear and remove a face mask:

- Wash hands with soap and water or use hand sanitiser.
- Place over nose, mouth and chin.
- Fit nose piece over nose bridge.
- Secure on head with ties or elastic.
- Adjust to fit – secure on your head, fitting snugly around your face with no gaps.
- Avoid touching or adjusting your mask during use.

How to remove a mask:

- Wash hands with soap and water or use hand sanitiser.
- Avoid touching the front of the mask.
- If the mask has ties, untie the bottom, then top tie.
- Remove from face.
- Wash hands with soap and water or use hand sanitiser immediately.


Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website