Made With Love: Support Two Montrose Family Mask Businesses this Christmas!


(Credit: Anna Hvidsten ’23, Maevis Fahey ’21)

Anna Hvidsten '23 and Maevis Fahey '21

That’s right! Montrose students Anna Hvidsten ‘23 and Maevis Fahey ‘21 have been helping their moms sew masks since the very beginning of the pandemic. After nine months of practice and perseverance, they have lots of stories to share. Anna and Maevis hope to give you a window into their experiences with mask making and also share their online websites where you can check out their products — perfect gifts for the holiday season!

  • The Faheys: UAnhMe Create, where you can buy ribbon mask keepers!

The Hvidstens

Flashback to when there were no masks available anywhere in March. Since two of my uncles work at hospitals in the Boston area, this mask-shortage hit particularly close to home for my family. Although they were fully protected in the hospital, they did not have masks to protect them on the way home. Mom immediately started researching. She said: “I read all the scientific studies and research projects about fabric and number of layers. Cotton is very highly ranked. If it’s tightly woven, only two layers are needed. The amount of protection that an additional layer gives isn’t that much compared to the decrease in breathability. This means more people might wear masks longer with two layers than they will with three, giving the community better protection.” Once Mom had gathered enough research, the experimentation process began. 

The first step was a trip down to the depths of the basement art closet to find fabric. Our findings were… funky. Although they were precisely the kinds of patterns you would expect from a box of random materials that hadn’t been touched in years, they were not the kind of designs one would want to wear in public. But, they successfully served their purpose in our experimentation. With these strange patterns, my mom tried making all different kinds of masks. Some had ties on the back to secure it on one’s face, others had elastic straps on the sides, and some even had ribbons. 

With every new mask prototype came a FaceTime call with my two uncles who are doctors. They critiqued fit, ease, and effectiveness, all through the iPhone camera. As the months went on, the group of critics grew from just the doctors to the doctors’ significant others, to their kids — and so on until everyone in our extended family had an opinion on my mom’s masks. In addition to familial requests, we tested the effectiveness by “holding it (a mask) up to a mirror and using a spray bottle to spray into it. If the mirror stays dry, the mask is good”(Mom). It wasn’t until June that we finally settled on the perfect design, approved by both the CDC and our family. We decided on “the accordion tie mask with a metal nose piece that gave the most customization to a variety of faces.” The Hvidsten family was off to the races. Everyone played an important role: Mom sewed, Henry strung earloops, I cut and ironed side pieces, Oliver was the in-house critic, and Dad was the motivator. Each of these roles was important, and each person loved their part. 

In these days of cutting and ironing fabric while my mom sewed, the two of us became incredibly close. Mom and I have always had a great relationship, but during this pandemic, it flourished. Anytime life was getting me down, I’d go into our dining room, start cutting fabric, and would chat it all out with her. Whether the problem was in my life or my favorite TV-show-character’s life, Mom’s ears were always open. Somedays, she’d just listen and others she’d give the most invaluable advice. These chats were my silver-lining in the pandemic. They made these months upon months of stress-tests survivable, and I will always be thankful for that.

As we transitioned into in-person school and siblings went away to college, Mom and her two sisters decided to take their mask-making to the next level. They started a website: Made With Love Mask Project, where anyone can access our masks. The “Paying It Forward” section of the website sums up the mask-“buying” process entirely: “If you are not a healthcare worker or an educator, we ask that if you request one of our masks,  you pay it forward…by either making a donation to your local food bank or by donating to help pay for supplies and shipping.”

To conclude, Mom gives advice about masks: “The most important thing is to find whatever mask that works best with your face. Make sure it’s snug, no gaps—that will be the most comfortable and the one you will wear the most. The more we keep our masks on, the more people we keep out of the hospitals, and the quicker we end this pandemic. Stay safe by keeping your community safe—and keep smiling— because we can see the smiles in your eyes.”


The Faheys

For the past nine months, my family’s dining room table has been covered with decorative stacks of colorful fabrics, rolls upon rolls of ribbon, and sewing materials of all sorts. Like so many families across the country, we’ve turned the coronavirus pandemic into an opportunity to channel our creativity into something truly meaningful and memorable. My mom, with the help of the rest of our family, has made hundreds of masks to donate to first responders and to kickstart her small business, UAnhMe Create. 

“UAnhMe” is a play on “you and me” combined with my mom’s name, Anh. If you scramble the letters, it spells “humane.” Kind of weird, kind of creative, and very unique — a pretty quality representation of my family. Our business has had a great start this year, and we couldn’t be more excited to sell more products during the holiday season!

You’ve probably spotted those red ribbons that Montrose teachers have been wearing around their necks with their masks. Many students wear them, too, and I never leave the house without my gray one. These are our “mask keepers,” A.K.A. our homemade ribbon mask lanyards. When you attach one to the ear loops of your mask, you can take it off while eating or safely distanced from others while keeping it on your person. The mask keepers are super fun to make, and we’ve become experts at it over the course of the past year! My three siblings and I have learned a lot about each other while spending so many hours at our dining room table, reaching over one another for our favorite ribbon colors and “the good scissors.”

UAnhMe is like a middle school science project on steroids, and it never (ever) ends. We’re constantly finding ways to improve our design, smoothen our process flow, and beautify our packaging (my personal favorite). At the start of the summer, when we began selling our mask keepers, I used to write out every package with the cursive “Made with love by UAnhMe” message on the back. Now we print them en masse on cardstock. In July, my mom started vending at a farmers market in town. We just used a folding table and put the masks and keepers on top. Now, we go to farmers markets throughout the local area. We have my dad’s hand-constructed table frame to display long strings of colorful masks, and a huge banner with the UAnhMe logo splashed across the front. We’ve grown in so many ways since UAnhMe was born.

My mom has been documenting the whole process of making masks and mask keepers during 2020. Back in March, my mom pulled out her sewing machine from the attic and dusted it off, hardly knowing that she would spend every single day for the rest of the year sewing with it. She ironed the deep creases out of the pretty pastel fabrics passed down from my great aunt and grandmother, not yet realizing that these fabrics would be sewed into masks to donate to first responders at local hospitals. And, of course, she put my siblings and I to work, giving us materials to measure, trim, and align, without knowing that she was creating the foundation of our family’s small business.

I admire my mother for her compassion and creativity — the two qualities that inspired the creation of UAnhMe. Every challenge is an opportunity, and every moment is a chance to offer a helping hand to others. Even amidst uncertainty, we can choose to make the best of our situation and work together as a family. “There’s always something you can do,” my mom has told me. If it wasn’t for her perspective and perseverance, we wouldn’t have UAnhMe.

Every night, as I’m sitting at my desk while penciling my way through a math worksheet or typing out a literary analysis, I hear the whirring of my mother’s sewing machine down the hall. It’s become a comfort to me, and a constant reminder to press on and serve others. As the days go on, we’ll keep making our masks and mask keepers, and we’ll keep growing with compassion and creativity through whatever we may face.

Anna Hvidsten ’23, Contributing Writer & Maevis Fahey ’21, Editor-in-Chief,