When the coronavirus pandemic hit and face masks were in short supply, Tracy Krauter, a former park ranger and the founder of Seattle-based Splash Fabric, knew it was time to get to work.
Krauter had made clothes for her own sons when they were children and started her own business, IMPWEAR (later known as IMPWEARhome), which was reborn as Splash Fabric in 2019. Earlier this year, she used her extra fabric to start producing masks quickly – in striking patterns – for little kids, big kids and adults.
Every washable and reusable mask is made of 100% cotton and features comfortable, soft Lycra around the ears to hold it on, which is especially important since it can be more comfortable than elastic for long-term use. Each mask is double-layered and includes a pocket for a filter (not included).
Splash Fabric quickly went from receiving six orders a day to more than 50, selling and donating as many masks as possible.
“We had a lot of 10-hour days, figuring out how to whip this into shape,” she says.
With all the work furloughs and school closings this past spring, Krauter soon found herself with a few extra hands to assist with exponentially growing orders – her friends, neighbors and husband, alongside their three sons, ages 29, 26 and 20.
“That was the most fun of the whole thing, spending the time with my family,” Krauter says.
In addition to selling masks, Splash Fabric stands by its stated Mask Mission: For every mask purchased, it donates a mask. To date, Splash Fabric has donated more than 55,000 masks to kids, low-income families, community organizations, health-care workers, people experiencing homelessness, refugees and the elderly. It also offers links to other organizations – and resources for anyone looking to donate or support their communities in any way they can.
Lively patterns designed by Krauter are perfect for the kid crowd. Photo by Joshua Huston
Krauter joins a network of people sewing across the U.S. and the rest of the world, selling and donating masks to those in need. Since everyone should wear masks as we attempt to flatten the COVID-19 curve and keep as many people safe as possible, individual ingenuity has made all the difference over the past several months.
“We all want to do something for other people, and it all adds up. That’s what it takes,” she says. “I’m so lucky, so fortunate I can do something for others. I can give masks away.”
She designs her own fabrics, featuring whimsical designs for kids with sharks, whales, various canines and colorful cats. “The dogs are definitely my favorite,” Krauter says.
Splash Fabric also sells laminated backpacks, purses, over-the-shoulder hipsters, home goods like aprons and tablecloths, and fabrics so you can make your own creations at home.