Saturday 30 May, 2020

Cancer caregiver bats against COVID-19 with reusable face masks

The  coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis has brought out Shereen Mohammed's warrior spirit.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis has brought out Shereen Mohammed's warrior spirit.

Judging by her warm demeanour, one would never guess that Shereen Mohammed was the committed caregiver for her daughter who lost a fight against brain and breast cancer a few months ago, all while battling pneumonia.

However, rather than pushing her further into despair, the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis has brought out Mohammed's warrior spirit.

Through her business, Kool Rootz Kollectionz, Mohammed is one of a handful of local entrepreneurs who have added reusable face masks to their product line.

She is focused on manufacturing her products at a price point that is accessible to the average Jamaican. The face masks come with an added feature that allows for the charcoal or lavender inserts.

“I know first-hand the challenges faced by patients, their families and the pressure that can place on small budgets and so I decided to help ease that burden” shared Mohammed. “When I look at the looming reality of potential layoffs and the cost of disposable masks for an extended period I know it will be challenging for many Jamaicans,” she emphasised.

Kool Rootz Kollectionz' face masks are made from breathable material.

For that reason, Mohammed has shifted her focus from her promotional items business, where she makes bags and carry cases to face masks.

The Kool Rootz Kollectionz owner has taken care to create masks from breathable material in varying styles to suit different needs.

Mohammed has both lined and unlined options and offers the masks with elastic backs and tie backs.  The masks can be purchased as a pair in a pouch so that a clean, reusable mask is always at arm’s length.

Thanks to her reputation of producing well-made and durable products, the face masks are in high demand. She is already receiving orders from medical supply companies, NGOs, fellow entreprenurs, current clients and friends.

Fellow Women Entrepreneurs Network of the Caribbean (WENC) member, Deon Dewar-Gray purchased almost two dozen masks for family and friends.

“As soon as the word was out, I decided to purchase my masks from Shereen,”  Dewar-Gray said, “the style that I purchased has a pocket on the inside and so I can place a piece of gauze with scented oil there to help control my allergies while I am wearing it.”

Dewar-Gray even sees utility for the mask beyond this period. 

“As someone who has very bad allergies, I plan to wash and use my masks again and again when I am gardening and cleaning.”

“I know how stressful illness can be and so I just want to do my part to help people cope with the COVID-19 challenge,” concluded Mohammed.

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