An Interview With Mitzi Eppley

July 1, 2020, 12:00 PM

Victoria Awkward

Mitzi has been with VLA DANCE throughout our journey to becoming a more sustainable company. Her work has made a huge impact on what VLA DANCE is today and what it will continue to become. In addition to performing with VLA DANCE as professional contemporary dancer and working in costumes, Mitzi Eppley is the designer behind the VLA DANCE masks! She has volunteered her time and resources to make the VLA DANCE masks a fundraiser. Read on to hear directly from Mitzi about the mask process. 

If your company is looking for a bulk order of masks you can contact Mitzi directly here.

Tell us about your new mask business. How have you been researching them?

Well, it began as a way to channel my complaining, lazy words into action. Things like; provide healthcare professionals with PPE because our government is not. Read, learn and then discuss COVID-19 in a way that is based on fact and does not incite panic or irrational fear. My father-in-law really motivated me to make it a business and not a temporary hobby. I realized how this brought together skills I already had to help provide my community with something we need! Thankfully, there is a consistent flow of research that follows the release of CDC guidelines and suggestions. I use these as a starting point and cross-reference the information with other scientific (fabric) research. The most recent was an article by Science Daily which discussed why a combination of cotton with natural silk or chiffon is the most effective mask fabrics. This was further confirmed by the US National Library of Medicine in an article by the American Chemical Society which stated that having an electrostatic barrier in the mask (such as flannel, chiffon, or silk) filters 80%-90% of all aerosol particles. However, the mask must fit the wearer well or the filtration is significantly less. This is one of the reasons I am so careful with how I sew them and have chosen the pattern so specifically! I want every single mask to be as protective as possible = covers the mouth and nose, has little to no gaps around the nose, ears or chin, and allows the individual to still breathe.

What skills of yours do they call upon?

Making the masks requires the knowledge I have about sewing itself (S/O to my Momma, Becky Butler, and Amanda Feeley), my penchant for perfectionism in detailing, and a serious ethical standard. Whether I know the person or not, I also invest joyful and loving energy and manifest protection for them through thought as I sew their mask. I know each person is going to rely on this mask to filter all the particles leaving their body to protect everyone around them.

What else have you been up to during this quarantine period?

My husband and I have been developing routines, learning more about each other, and growing stronger together! We are learning new cooking techniques, meal recipes, and drinks! I have attempted to learn, perform, and teach via virtual platforms. I am learning more about what activism and ally-ship look like in action and practicing that. I am trying to listen more and control less.

Please share a recent spark of joy.

Safely celebrating Eid al-Fitr with some friends. Meaning "Feast of Breaking the Fast," Eid al-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan (or Ramazan), an event in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It is observed by Muslims worldwide; together they fast for a month from sunrise to sunset, and focus on prayer, reflection, and community. This is a holy and joyous celebration of food and community. I was thankful to be a part of it and have a day of laughter and games with friends.

If your company is looking for a bulk order of masks you can contact Mitzi directly here.

*References

 

American Chemical Society. "The best material for homemade face masks may be a combination of two fabrics." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily,

24 April 2020< www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/04/200424081648.htm>.

 

Konda, Abhiteja et al. “Aerosol Filtration Efficiency of Common Fabrics Used in Respiratory Cloth Masks.” ACS nano 

vol. 14,5 (2020): 6339-6347. doi:10.1021/acsnano.0c03252