Help Healthcare Practicioners, First Responders, Displaced Workers, Small Businesses During COVID-19

It’s a rough time. It’s OK to be really freaked out. Or frustrated, or sad, or annoyed. There’s no normal way to feel in a situation this abnormal.

If you have abruptly lost your livelihood: I’m so sorry. Contact me. I’ll try to help.

If you’re just anxious and stir-crazy at home, here are concrete things you can do to combat COVID-19 and support those affected. Please help. You have a chance to literally save lives. And heck, you can even score some awesome video games by helping.

  1. If you have an unopened container of N95 masks and aren’t sick or immunocompromised, please, please contact local EMTs, firefighters, clinics, hospitals, or other people on the front lines and donate them. There is a dire shortage of N95 masks that has put people at risk of dying. If you’re hiding in your house, give masks to those who can’t hide.

How to get personal protective equipment where it needs to go

  1. Mask Match connects practicioners with N95 masks;
  2. Find the Masks lists places seeking PPE, filterable by state and accepted items;
  3. getusppe.org connects healthcare organizations that need PPE with people who have it. Filterable by state and accepted items. It also seems to have centralized various other efforts.
  4. Masks For Docs. They’re less transparent about who’s behind it than the other orgs; work with one of the others preferentially.
  5. #GetMePPE and #GetUsPPE tags on Twitter are a good place to seek help and helpers.
  6. Resources for specific countries:
  7. A Facebook group for organizations seeking handmade face masks

How to make personal protective equipment (or emergency medical equipment)

  1. Sew masks:
  2. Print face shields with a 3D printer:
  3. Laser cut a face shield. Designed to be equivalent to one of the NIH-approved shields.
  4. Sew an isolation gown. We need gowns too.
  5. Sew a surgical cap.
  6. Manufacture ventilators if you have a factory. Medtronic ventilator schematics.

PPE of Last Resort

If you’re in a situation where there’s no way to secure real PPE– supply chain issues, lacking necessary resources (money or materials or equipment)– here are some desperation measures you can take to build PPE that’s better than nothing. Please, please exhaust every other means of getting PPE before even considering any of these.

  1. Ventilators. If we run out of ventilators, this is probably our best bet for building emergency ones. As you can see from the analyses, it’s not a great bet, but it’s better than nothing.
  2. Shields. If you have a two-liter plastic bottle, you can improvise a last-resort face shield out of it.
  3. Masks.
    • If you have salt and carbonated water and a napkin, you can make a last-resort filter for a mask.
    • If you have aluminum foil, dishwasher detergent, wood glue, newspapers, paper, rubber, and whatever “clear paper” is, you can make this last-resort mask.

How to contribute valuable information

  1. Working or living on the front lines of COVID-19? Help ProPublica report. If you’re unfamiliar, they’re a nonprofit investigative journalism publication whose metric of success if whether they’ve helped change negative outcomes.
  2. Had trouble getting a COVID-19 test, even with symptoms? Report it here.
  3. Add local mutual aid organizations to Mutual Aid Hub so people can easily find local ways to help.
  4. Contribute voice samples, whether you’re healthy or sick, to an AI project that tries to identify whether you’re likely infected by how your voice sounds.
  5. Having a hard time with mental health during quarantine? NPR wants to know about it.

How to help people whose livelihoods have been threatened by COVID-19:

  1. Donate to targeted funds or directly:
  2. Here’s a useful tool showing who’s freezing hiring right now and who’s still hiring.
  3. Contribute your labor to small businesses. Thus far I’ve helped two different businesses set up gift cards and am maintaining their websites during my evening hours.
  4. In general: if you like a business and can afford it, buy a gift card. That way you help keep businesses afloat that depend on foot traffic or, you know, not-apocalypse, and you don’t put anyone at extra risk of COVID-19. Consider this especially for service businesses that 100% cannot be done without in-person contact: massage therapists, hair salons, businesses that sell only at farmers’ markets, etc.
    • Many small ethical businesses are running major discounts on gift cards right now, including:
    • Many small ethical businesses are offering significant discounts right now, again in an attempt to stay afloat. Here are a few:
  5. A few other businesses are selling things for a good cause:
    • HammerMade has had to furlough its employees, but is offering some cheesy and a few amazing COVID-19-themed t-shirts, the profits of which are 100% going to support their furloughed employees. No lie, I’m probably going to buy this one.
    • Everlane is donating all proceeds from their 100% Human line to the Feeding America’s COVID-19 Response Fund. Removed this, because I don’t think a company can call themselves ethical if they’re union-busting during a pandemic, not to mention telling their workers everything is fine and then laying them off. I didn’t buy much from them before, but you can bet I’m not going to buy anything again.
  6. If you like musicians, a lot of them depend on tour income. Buy their music. Attend a virtual live concert and tip if you can: if you’re nerdy enough to like filk, here’s a list of concerts upcoming.

How to help fight COVID-19 in other ways:

  1. If you source healthcare equipment, here is some new equipment for sterilizing N-95 masks to inquire about.
  2. If you’re a scientist, contribute your labor to helping fight COVID-19 here.
  3. Have a computer? Contribute your GPU capacity to Folding@Home to generate data that helps create treatments for COVID-19.
  4. Software developer? Designer? Manufacturer? Mechanic? Biologist? In HR? Project manager? There are projects for you. Help with one of the COVID-19 volunteer projects listed here.
  5. If you’re someone who’s already had COVID-19 and has recovered, you can donate your blood to help others.
  6. If you’re alive today, you can help by following common-sense precautions:
    • Stay at home. Don’t go out to eat or play or go to the gym. Don’t go anywhere.
    • Stay 6 feet apart if you can’t stay at home.
    • Wear a fabric face mask if you have to go out– places to source them here.
    • Avoid seeing anyone you don’t have to. Skype or Google Hangouts or Facebook Messenger or Zoom call people instead.
    • Work from home if you can.
    • Wash your hands for 20 seconds.
    • Preferably, leave packages alone for a couple of days before opening them, as COVID-19 can live on cardboard for up to a day and on plastic for up to 3 days.
    • Remember, you’re not just protecting yourself: you’re protecting anyone you have ever met. I promise you, you know someone who’s in a high-risk group. If your friend has diabetes, or asthma, or is just over 60, they have a 6% or higher chance of dying if they catch COVID-19.

I promise you, there will be more things you can do to help. As that HammerMade shirt says, we’re all in this together (6 feet apart).

My next post will be a roundup of reputable information about COVID-19. There’s a lot of misinformation out there right now, and I want to point you towards something that won’t mislead you.

Where To Buy Fabric Masks

The CDC just advised that people should wear cloth masks when they go out. But unless you’ve been, say, obsessively compiling resources on COVID-19 for weeks, you might not know where to get them, and might be tempted to use desperately-needed disposable masks instead. Luckily, uh, well, let’s just say I’ve been keeping track of who’s been pivoting to mask-making, and I can help! I’ll add to this list as I find more.

  1. Volante Design offers masks on a sliding fee scale: you can purchase them at cost ($5) if you don’t have much money. Everything I’ve ever seen them make is ridiculously durable, and they include room for polypropylene filters that they’ll be selling shortly. They also sell the filter material, if you’re a DIYer. Orders ship the week of April 27.
  2. Eco-friendly masks for $10-14, in partnership with an ethical fashion incubator. Offsets the cost of sending masks to hospitals. Sold out of everything but the Everyday Face Mask right now.
  3. Collection of black-owned businesses selling face masks. Printed Pattern People and Samaria Leah are sold out; Sonson is sold out unless you want a matching head scarf; CR Clothing Co is sold out until 4/17 but has kids’ masks in stock.
  4. Kordal Studio is selling masks, $20 for 3. Proceeds after they break even go to Meals on Wheels. Ships in May.
  5. Flipside Hats is offering double-layer cotton masks for $22.
  6. Now through the end of April, Ureshii Design is offering free face masks (or undies, or twist-turban hairbands) with any purchase over $50. Put a note in the checkout with your choice. And honestly, I think they’re one of the few fashion companies worth purchasing actual clothes from right now: all of their clothing legitimately feels like pajamas, and they continue to be basically the perfect fashion company in every other way. When they’re out of elastic, though, they can’t get it restocked, so the number of masks they can offer right now is limited only to customers.
  7. UZI NYC is also offering free masks with purchase.
  8. On the total opposite end of the purchasing spectrum, I’ve never purchased anything from Shein, but my friend has. They’re as far as I can tell a cheap Chinese fast fashion place that offers both fashion masks and fashion face shields attached to bucket hats.
  9. Nora Gardner has also pivoted to face masks, $15 apiece.
  10. If you want masks that are extraordinarily tone deaf and $29 but pretty, Melodia Designs can basically always help you out with both those things. (They’re an American company known for their dance and yoga clothing. Their pants are comfortable and beautiful, but they also thought ‘Melorial Day’ was a good plan for a Memorial Day campaign.)
  11. Generally, Etsy. A ton of Etsy sellers have pivoted to face masks.

If you do buy a fabric face mask, make sure to wash it after every single time you wear it out. Reuse of cloth face masks is one of the things that makes them ineffective.

New Year, New Look

Hullo, all one reader I probably have after this long hiatus! I’ve got more things to say, finally– new fashion businesses to review, new opinions to share on the old ones. And to celebrate, I’ve tweaked the layout and my collection of companies I like. Feel welcome to let me know if you want me to cover anything specifically: otherwise, I’ll just start posting once I stop dragging my feet on taking these pictures.

Happy New Year!

It’s been a while.  I’ve had lots of work stuff to do, but I wanted to wish you all a better year than the last.

Also: if you’re a busty lady looking for affordable, high-quality tops, Front Room is having a sale of the remainder of their stuff.  (They’re switching over to a different sales model and clearing out their remaining stock.) Anything remaining by tomorrow is going to charity, so if you’ve been wanting to pick something up, now’s the time.  I own several pieces of their clothing, and everything I’ve gotten has been versatile and well-crafted.  I particularly recommend this blouse.

Rabbit Holes: Fashion History

Because I never claimed that all of my interests were practical.

  • Here is an illustrated history of women’s fashion (for wealthy Western women).  It’s a neat collection of fashion plates and sewing patterns from 1784 to 1970, and tells you a lot about the popularity of different silhouettes/colors over that time.
  • There are a few interesting related threads on Reddit, where the above illustrated history originated.  I particularly liked the ones about the colors of Victorian fashion and about historical working women’s fashion.
  • One thing I was surprised no one brought up: those beautiful green dresses of the 18th century were deadly poisonous.  The green dresses from the early 1860s were particularly startling, because in 1861 there was a widely publicized case of an artificial flower maker dying a horrible death from those poisonous green pigments.  (This also solves a long-standing mystery for me about why many fashion people really resist making green clothing.)
  • Speaking of dyes, but in a less terrible and morbid way, here is an interesting history of nail polish.
  • High heels!  Who thought they were a good idea?  Answer: Persians, for riding horses.  Before the riding heel, there were chopines, platform shoes women teetered on as a region-specific display of material wealth (leatherworking in Spain, textiles in Italy).  Also, men complained about the frivolity and costs of these fashion elements that were meant to display men’s wealth and status.

Bust-Friendly Dress Shirts: Exclusively Kristen

I adore talking with the founders of small fashion businesses; no one knows more than they do about the construction and design of their clothing!  So when Kristen Allen, founder of Exclusively Kristen, reached out to me last week, I asked her for an interview.

Exclusively Kristen is a small, made-in-America company that specializes in bust-friendly button-ups and tank tops, mostly made of natural fabrics.  (They also offer some dresses.)  Their sizes range from 6 to 20.  I wasn’t able to try anything personally yet, but I’ve got some useful information for you about fit, sizing, and what changes are coming in the future.

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Graceship New York Laptop Bag Sale

If you were interested in trying the vegan laptop bag option I mentioned in last year’s 15″ laptop bag roundup, there’s an Instant Deal for it on Vipon for $79.95 (it was $175 full-price last year and is $185 this year). Vipon has some mixed reviews of their website, but Graceship posted about this deal on their social media presence, so they’re at least legitimately partnering with Vipon on this.

If you’re skeeved out by the site, it’s currently on sale on Amazon for $130.  Meanwhile, on Graceship’s website it’s still $185.  Okay then.

Unwritten Workplace Dress Codes

You’ve probably seen the articles going around about the reporter turned away from the Speaker’s Lobby because of her sleeveless dress.

I’m pleasantly surprised that they’re working on modernizing the dress code in question, because it’s outrageous and unfair!  Hearing about the dress code didn’t surprise me the way it seems to have surprised a lot of people, though.  Workwear blogs have told me for years that sleeveless dresses are considered inappropriate in a really conservative workplace, and there’s no workplace in the United States more conservatively dressed than Capitol Hill.

Workplace dress rules are a mess.  They all require you to know things you’re never formally taught.  Conservative dress codes are classist and discriminatory by gender, body type, and frequently race.  Casual offices are a little better, but if you went through the effort of learning the conservative office dress code rules and dressing accordingly, a lot of casual offices will treat you as if you are less competent.

If you’re like me, you just want to get all that stuff out of the way so you can be seen for your merits!  Here is what I’ve learned about unwritten dress codes for various workplaces.  Eventually, once I teach myself how to make interactive infographics, I hope to make this an interactive infographic instead.

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