• By: OLM Staff

Being a fashion face and giving back never looked so gorgeous

A week after Ottawa went into lockdown, entrepreneur Julie Beun, one of Ottawa’s favourite marketing, communications and media personalities was at it again. AboutFace Masks came to life as a kitchen table enterprise from her home in Carp, Ontario.

Like the rest of the world, Julie Beun was staying safe by staying home. She had been tracking the pandemic’s evolution and realized that as it raced around the world, disposable facemasks were becoming the new normal.

The new normal was not environmentally friendly, nor was it even vaguely fashionable. “We can do better,” she thought. So, she pulled out her sewing machine, rummaged through her stash of fabric and got to work. Through friends, she’d heard about Operation Ramizieh, a grassroots charity delivering food to vulnerable seniors and economically disadvantaged families. She sewed for two days straight and delivered 70 masks to be distributed with the emergency food aid. “I can do more than this. But I need help,” she said to herself.

Durable and utterly fabulous.

Despite the very real challenge of sourcing fabric and polypropylene liner (a manmade fabric she chose for its use in mask filters) during the lockdown, she improved the original pattern to be a more tailored, sleeker design in two adult sizes, later introducing kids’ masks. The result was a machine washable and dryable mask that could be used over and over.

After a second week of cutting, sewing and mailing masks on her own, help arrived. Long-time friend and graphic designer Lissa Constantine created a logo, set up an e-commerce store and strategized.

Locally made. Supporting local families.

AboutFace Masks then hired local seamstresses who had lost work due to the lockdown to help them produce their mask.  As a result, they don’t compete with mass-produced drop-shipped or cheap imported masks. They don’t even try. “We firmly believe in doing the right thing for the right reasons – and that means helping your neighbours keep their businesses and livelihood afloat, says Beun.”

Julie Beun took to her sewing machine to bring Ottawans fashion-forward masks.

Fashion is part of it!

Beun says the new COVID-19 normal raises practical fashion questions. “How to mask your face, not your style. As we enter the new normal, how do you wear a mask and not look like a surgeon who’s just escaped from the ER? We use body language to read each other – two key pieces of which are EYES and SMILE . . . so your mask should do all the talking when your smile can’t. Great eye make-up and make up setting spray or powder are absolute musts”, says Beun who suggests you either “build your outfit around a statement mask or accessorize your attitude with a mask.”

Over the past decade both Beun and Constantine have given much of their time to support charitable causes and they brought that same generous spirit to the new venture. With every sale, masks are donated to Operation Ramizieh, vulnerable seniors and their families at Bruyere Village and Bruyere Clinic, as well as other charities.

Some Facts -AboutFace Masks

  • AboutFace Masks are 100 per cent local.
  • The fabric is purchased locally. 
  • The sewing crew are all local (made in Canada, Canadian owned and locally produced).
  • AboutFace collaborates with local retailers to create ‘unique-to-them’ collections that reflect their brand (Oresta, Warren Chase, Smokavana, Three Wild Women, Stroked Ego).
  • AboutFace Masks are reusable, washable (better for the environment) and made with polypropylene (product used in mask filters).                    

Of note          

AboutFace Masks are handmade and therefore each mask may vary slightly. AboutFace Masks are unrated, non-medical cloth masks. They should be machine wash and dried after each use.