Design Lab Gives was born in 2017, when Design Lab Miami founder Cohen told some of her students (including Villamizar) about her dream to give her coveted classes to women who needed the training but didn’t have access. The school, which offers sewing and designing classes and camps for children and adults, soon found a champion in Villamizar, who helped found the DLG nonprofit.
Behind the Mask
When Cohen was forced to shut down her classes amid the pandemic in early March, she quickly realized that her skills (and her students’) were in high demand within the South Florida community. Cohen mobilized an army of volunteers to begin sewing face masks and the “Behind the Mask” project sprung to life. “We started sewing masks and immediately the requests began pouring in,” says Cohen.
Flattening the Curve
Cohen and Villamizar say volunteers hope to help “flatten the curve” by making sure everyone has access to masks when they venture out, leaving medical-grad masks for health care professionals and first responders. Volunteers work day and night to sew the masks from fabric scraps, making more than 100 masks a day while keeping to social distancing rules. Deliveries are made by curbside pick-up or by mail. “The requests are pouring in,” says Villamizar. “We have already donated over 1,000 masks to local non-profits and hospitals, including Casa Valentina, Jackson Memorial Hospital, local Fire Departments, pharmacies and others.”
Both women say they have seen a massive outpouring of support from the local community, both in sewers and donations. “These generous donations help us deliver masks to the healthcare community and groups that work with women, children, and others in need,” says Cohen. In response, DLG is offering their washable and sustainable masks to individuals who donate to the nonprofit. “A suggested donation of $10 per mask is recommended; this allows DLG to continue the community efforts.”