Masks for Richmond

Junior's mask business gives back

August 31, 2020

Spider Pride

After buying masks online throughout the summer, junior Brianna Silva realized she could launch a business that would help her family — and the Richmond community. Armed with a sewing machine and her imagination, she created Masks for Richmond on Instagram. When ordering, customers can choose to donate masks, which she distributes to Richmond-area nonprofits assisting vulnerable and low-income Latinx community members.

“I was constantly buying masks on Etsy, and I realized I could make my own and also do it for my family because a lot of them are front-line workers,” Silva said. “I wanted to be less wasteful, so my masks are washable and reusable.”

She learned about supporting small businesses and assisting neighbors in need through her volunteer work at a neighborhood initiative in her hometown of Princeton, New Jersey. Community members could pick up items such as detergent, shampoo, or cleaning supplies that aren’t offered at food pantries. The effort became a model for her mask business. 

Through her @masksforrichmond account, customers can purchase masks ranging from $6 to $9. Adding $6 to an order provides donated masks to the Sacred Heart Center and Richmond Mutual Aid.

“Donation masks are important to me because I want to give back to Latinx and Black communities in Richmond and across the country,” she said. “Those are the members in our community who are being hit the hardest with COVID-19. All of us can join in this effort to provide PPE to our neighbors in need.”

In addition to majoring in political science and journalism, Silva is a Bonner Scholar, a student coordinator for first-generation students, a resident assistant, and president of a student organization that provides mentoring assistance to Richmond public schools.

“I wanted to spread the love toward somewhere that I felt needed the resources,” Silva said about her business. “I feel like Richmond is a big city, and those who are in need could get lost.”