Solidarity Masks promotes safety and social justice


Courtesy of Carolina Noguera

Solidarity Mask team members and students Meredith Eby, Lily Geshelin, Sofía Noguera and Carolina Noguera have all been working together to run the non-profit since May of 2020.

By Olivia Yasharoff, Arts Editor

For those tired of wearing blue surgical masks and looking for a more sustainable, impactful and trendy option, Solidarity Masks is the answer.

Solidarity Masks, co-founded by WCHS junior Carolina Noguera, CJMS eighth-grader Sofía Noguera, University of Maryland freshman Lily Geshelin and University of Maryland junior Meredith Eby, donates 100% of their profits to help other non-profit organizations. So far with over 2,000 masks made and almost $17,000 donated, the Solidarity Mask team’s efforts to protect the community from COVID-19 and promote social justice are very evident and appreciated.

“Helping to run this non-profit definitely showed me the happiness that comes with helping others and how you can accomplish a lot of things by working hard and persevering,” Sofía Noguera said.

Solidarity Masks has donated to many organizations, ranging from the American Civil Liberties Union to Manna Food Center, as well as working with sponsors Crisp & Juicy and Dacha Beer Garden to match donations. For instance, Crisp & Juicy, based in Washington D.C., has matched donations by giving chicken meals to a food bank, reaching food insecure people in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area.  

“Because of COVID-19, we do not get to have any interaction with those who we are donating food or funds to, which is definitely a bit disappointing, so seeing people wearing our masks makes up for that gap between the people we are helping and us,” Carolina Noguera said. “It is nice to see the difference we are making and knowing people like our products.”

Solidarity Masks aims to be environmentally conscious, as the team is always looking for ways to be more resourceful. In mid-September, a new product was introduced: reusable cotton squares, which can be used to remove eye makeup.

“We had so much excess fabric that was not big enough to be a mask, but we had been saving since March in hopes of coming up with a project for them,” Carolina Noguera said. “I was trying to think of how to find a good way to have less fabric waste as a company and solve an environmental issue that I have read about.”

In addition to being environmentally friendly, the non-profit uses their donations to help people in need of food, education and even legal defense. Most recently, Solidarity Masks has been working on a partnership with an organization in Argentina, donating profits from light blue masks, the color of their flag, to help families impacted by the wildfires.

“When California and Australia have had uncontrollable wildfires, thousands of people are aware and are donating to help those in need, but the news of Argentina is not common knowledge and for the past few months we have felt helpless watching our family struggle, unable to help,” Carolina Noguera said. “We are hoping to send funds to then donate food and mattresses to these families.” 

Solidarity Masks is working hard to help its community while spreading joy. With product names like “Treat People With Kindness,” “Adore You” and  “Canyon Moon,” the Solidarity Masks team plants easter eggs for fellow Harry Styles’ fans. 

“We were thinking of how to list the masks and wanted something more fun than just ‘green’ so we thought of naming them after Harry Styles lyrics since that was something we liked to listen to while working to make it less of a stressful environment,” Carolina Noguera said. 

Families across the world have been buying from Solidarity Masks. “Our $100’s Club,” a feature on the Solidarity Masks’ website, lists each family or individual who has donated more than $100 through the business. Among the many families who have been supporting Solidarity Masks since the beginning is the Reeve family.

“I have been supporting Solidarity Masks because their masks are so comfortable and amazing and I really believe in their cause,” WCHS junior Maddie Reeve said. “I love everything they are doing for the community.”

The support does not stop in the WCHS community. YouTuber Hannah Meloche, with 1.7 million followers on Instagram, is one among many social media influencers who have shown their love for Solidarity Masks. 

“Hannah has been such an important part of our non-profit taking off,” Carolina Noguera said.  “She brought us so many customers from around the world. Every time she posts about us we get at least 40 new orders. Without her we would not have been able to be this successful.”

It can be difficult to balance running the business with online school, extracurriculars and rest, especially during the pandemic, while taking the typical impatience of online consumers into consideration. 

“Big companies like Amazon make it really hard for small businesses like us,” Carolina Noguera said. “When you order from them they have products in stock and it arrives within a few days. But we make all our orders by hand and to order, meaning it takes one to two weeks to be done. We are lucky as most of our customers are very understanding and patient since they know we’re students, they’re all handmade and we’re not getting paid for this work.” 

The mask-making process has slowed down a bit for UMD freshman and co-founder Lily Greshelin, as she is not able to come by every day anymore, but she still makes time to work once or twice a week. With the help of family friends volunteering, the non-profit is able to continue running smoothly.

“My favorite part about running the business is making decisions and seeing how they impact the business,” Lily Geshelin said. “I have learned a lot about managing our money and a lot about business management which is also what I am studying in school right now so it is cool that they are overlapping.”

In addition to business management, the team has learned to build off of their backgrounds in sewing, work as a team, and organize their time through running the non-profit and the team plans to continue using these skills to help the community and beyond.

“It is so important more than ever to find activities to do, and to be able to do something that is fun and helps others is awesome,” Meredith Eby said. “We all got super closer over the past several months and the girls have really shown me that you can at any age run a successful business and help the community in a really impactful way. I love how we have been able to create a glimmer of hope in these hard times and I look forward to continuing to inspire others.”