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    Demand for quirky masks spells opportunity for artisans

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    Demand for quirky masks spells opportunity for artisans
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    New Delhi: First week of the nationwide 'unlockdown' witnessed people hitting the streets sporting not only the typical plain white and azure blue masks but also those with floral prints and cartoon characters embossed on them.

    Amid the pandemic, masks have become a hot commodity. Sensing its huge market, many designers have brought out masks to support the cause of weavers.

    At a time when the Covid-19 pandemic has pushed rural artisans into deep financial distress, a Bengaluru-based designer collaborated with them to make Madhubani, kalamkari, chikankari and ikkat print masks.

    "Disposability of synthetic masks is a big problem. That's why these cultural masks are good. They are reusable, breathable, and are a symbol of being 'vocal about local'," said National Institute of Design graduate Rashmi Singh.

    The entrepreneur emphasised that in the coming times the people would match the mask with their attire. "There will be demand for professional masks for office and decorated masks for a wedding. It might be a fad, but will be there for a while."

    Entrepreneur Sonali Thakur, a mother of two, has come up with quirky masks for children after her 10-year-old child raked up the issue. "When my kid asked me why the masks in the market are dull, it set me thinking," she said.

    Kochi-based Sonali began making masks sporting superhero, fish-tail, sci-fi characters, birds, animals and flowers at her own designing unit and sold over 5,000 in a month. The masks, made of pure cotton, are reusable and skin-friendly for children.

    The idea to make these eccentric masks, she said helped people find employment in these challenging times. "My staff was in the lurch due to lockdown. But now they are busy making these masks," Sonali said.

    Meanwhile, there are masks in the market that are made by adding ayurvedic herbs, like neem and tulsi. They claim to refine breathing, and are eco-friendly, washable and reusable.

    In the national capital and its adjoining areas, people could be seen selling colourful and funky masks on motor vehicles on the side of roads.

    "Demands for such quirky masks have started pouring in. We don't have the stock as these masks are being mostly sold online. We will procure them in the coming days," said Sunil Kumar of Goyal Medicos in Noida.

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