Iowa State student sells handmade masks


Valerie Ramirez makes and sells custom handmade masks for ISU students.

Sydney Novak

After seeing a lot of disposable masks littering the streets of Chicago when the state mandated face coverings in public places, an Iowa State student was inspired to make an effort to ensure people could be more sustainable and sanitary.  

“People wouldn’t even bother to throw their masks in the trash can, and so many masks would end up in the streets and it was disgusting,” said Valerie Ramirez, a sophomore kinesiology major from Illinois. “Because then someone would have to go around picking all that up.”

On June 24, Iowa State University President Wendy Wintersteen announced face coverings would be required to attend in-person classes, effective July 1.

This policy inspired Ramirez to start making and selling handmade masks.

Ramirez started by investing in fabrics, embroidery materials and a Cricut, a cutting machine. Ramirez was already familiar with how to sew because of spending time with her grandmother when she was young. 

“Growing up I was always with my grandma, and she would sew all the time, so I had my own little sewing machine,” Ramirez said. “It wasn’t that hard to get the hang of it again.”

Ramirez estimates she has made roughly 60 masks since posting in an Iowa State Facebook page she would make custom masks for order. She also posted this on her Instagram story. Her masks range from $4 to $7, depending on what the customer requests. She can either embroider the mask or add custom iron-on adhesives. 

“I personally would love it if everyone would wear a mask, not only is it keeping you safe, but keeping other people safe,” Ramirez said. “I think it is important to be wearing a mask on campus.”

Currently, Ramirez is in the process of making a creative Instagram account to make more custom clothes and art. She also loves to paint and has made other Iowa State apparel. She hopes she can continue to create custom clothes and art after masks are no longer needed or mandated.