Like most of the world, Stephanie Gold watched the unforgiving nature of frontline employment unfold as the coronavirus pandemic raged on.
Unlike most of us, though, she decided to act.
The severity of the situation hit her once Hopewell Valley schools closed. Gold, 43, has two children, a sixth-grader and a ninth-grader, in the district.
She and boyfriend-turned-business partner Eric Sims got to work. They started designing and making facemasks, which they then donated to essential workers.
Eventually, they were successful enough to turn the endeavor into a new company: Locked Down Designs.
“We wanted to keep busy and give to the frontline workers, and it snowballed from there,” she said in an email.
The pair has been productive—together, they’ve made over 4,000 masks and sold over 2,000.
They stock about 175 different fabrics and styles at one time. The Locked Down Designs store features 15 categories, from fantasy and tie-dye to USA and back to school.
“Our focus from the beginning has been making a premium mask that not just performs great, but is also comfortable to wear, that makes a statement and that will hold up wash after wash,” Gold wrote on the shop’s website. “After all, you don’t wear the same underwear every day, so why would you wear the same face mask every day?”
The Philadelphia-based Sims does the sewing, and Gold, a five-year Pennington resident, helps with production. They share marketing and selling duties.
Both have owned businesses in the past—Gold a baby boutique, and Sims an online store. So starting up Locked Down Designs was a bit of a natural progression.
Masks are made to CDC specifications, Gold said. Each comes with either a double layer of tight-knit cotton or a cotton exterior shell and interior lining with a pocket for a five-layer polypropylene and activated carbon removable filter. Masks start at $19.99.
“Each mask includes a filter, unlike other sellers who expect you to source your own filter, which is not an easy task these days,” Gold said.
Their wide array of offerings nabbed them a couple of news spots, too. Gold’s friend, Barbara Majeski, plugged Locked Down Designs on Good Day New York.
A producer saw the bit and invited Gold and Sims to appear on The Today Show. It was “exciting and nerve-wracking,” Gold said.
“What we never imagined was the response that we received from those first few batches of masks,” Gold said on her website. “People couldn’t seem to get enough of them, and we kept getting message after message asking us to offer them for purchase.”
It was also a well-deserved mini break for the pair, who often work 18-hour days to keep up with demand—demand that has grown as they have added gloves, hand sanitizer, scrub caps, disposable masks and custom masks to their offerings, as well as continuing to donate to frontline workers.
But it is a labor of love for Gold and Sims, and that’s the best part, she said.
“We can be creative and work as a team,” Gold said. “We are helping people and keeping busy during this pandemic.”