Entrepreneurs join the fight against Covid-19

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Some of the products being made by creative local residents
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By Kadeem Joseph

As the government steps up measures to reduce the spread of the coronavirus – and ultimately avoid fatalities – two young entrepreneurs are doing their part towards the national effort.

While Kelly Richardson of Kellyco Designs has taken up the challenge of making fashion-forward face masks, Monolissa Persaud-Willis is making homemade sanitisers.

Richardson said he embarked on the venture to do his part amid worldwide shortages.

“I had foreseen that the situation would get worse before it got better and it would be in great demand at some point,” he said. “I have a lot of clients who would not just want to wear a regular face mask.”

He explained that demand for the gear increased after Prime Minister Gaston Browne announced the seven-day lockdown on Tuesday.

The designer is hoping that the protective wear will help residents and those around them to stay safe.

To date, Richardson has made almost 100 masks in 12 different styles, with designs ranging from snakeskin to polka dot silk.

He explained that he not only had to research the best fabric to use to avoid allergic reactions, but also had to verify the thickness of padding that would serve as an effective filter.

Researchers at Cambridge University have shown fabrics including 100 percent cotton can capture up to 50 percent of viral particles, with improved results with different fabric combinations.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has advised that masks should be worn by people taking care of sick individuals, along with those who are coughing or sneezing to avoid spreading bacteria and viruses.

Masks help to minimise the spread of pathogens like Covid-19 by reducing the projection of respiratory droplets, but WHO says the wearing of masks must be accompanied by proper hygiene practices to improve efficacy.

Minister of Health, Molwyn Joseph, is also hoping the government will be able to provide masks for everyone on island.

Meanwhile, Persaud-Willis is helping to satisfy the demand for sanitisers using a WHO recipe.

“I’m a DIY type of person so when the whole Covid-19 pandemic came along, I started to prepare myself and my family for what’s ahead by stocking up on disinfectant and sanitiser but by then sanitisers were long gone off most of the shelves and hard to find.

“But I remembered that some time ago I had made some homemade sanitiser with alcohol and aloe vera from my back yard as a project and decided, well if I can’t find it, make it,” she explained.

The entrepreneur and tourism sector employee said while some people were sceptical about the quality of her product, she purchased a hydrometer to ensure the strength was in line with WHO guidelines.

“The support I got was amazing and my customer list kept growing. I made sure I got feedback from customers so I can improve my recipe either by the texture of the liquid or the scent,” she added.

Persaud-Willis says she has already sold more than 40 gallons of her product.

She added that she is hoping her effort will show that everyone can do something to help someone else.

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