MUNDELEIN – On weekends and lunch breaks from school, Olivia and Jaina Bartusch become 2 Little Mask Makers.
The Mundelein sisters began decorating masks during the summer as a hobby. Their efforts have turned into a successful business, with all of their profits going to charity.
The two, ages 11 and 10, say they simply want to make people happy.
“They’re very fun to make,” said 11-year-old Olivia, a sixth grader at Carl Sandburg Middle School. “You can be very creative with the images and colors, and I make them because, you know, I think it helps people. Wearing masks, hopefully, will help stop the spread of COVID, which helps everything.”
They’re also helping people by donating money to Northern Illinois Food Bank and backpacks to Mundelein School District for families in need.
With the help of their mother, Amy Bartusch, and her crafting machine, the two buy masks in a variety of colors and sizes, decorate them in numerous styles and sell them at $5 each via their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/2MaskMakers.The Facebook page links to an online order form.
With a profit of about $2 a mask, they’ve raised about $1,000 so far for charity. In about six weeks, they’ve created about 500 masks, first for family and friends, then friends of friends and others, Amy Bartusch said.
“The fact that they said they wanted to donate to charity was very awesome, and there’s even been times that people have been like, ‘Here’s a little bit extra for you guys,’ and they’re just like, ‘No, that’s OK, we’re going to give it to charity,’ ” she said.
“They understand they have stuff they don’t have to worry about.”
Using iron-on designs, 2 Little Mask Makers takes individual requests for mask styles, but also have created themed masks, such as those celebrating Halloween and others encouraging people to vote. They’ve made sporty masks, personalized masks with people’s initials and names, masks with hearts, unicorns and peace signs and all sorts of other creations.
It all started when they decorated a mask for their aunt, who encouraged them to make more.
“We just decorated a few masks and people started buying them,” said 10-year-old Jaina, a fifth grader at Mechanics Grove Elementary School, who wants to be a special education teacher when she gets older.
“We thought it would be nice to give profits to charity, and we started personalizing them once we started getting more orders,” Jaina said. “It feels good because it makes me know that I’m helping others.”
Their mother said they typically put in about four to eight hours every weekend working on the masks.
They chose the charities after reading about people experiencing food insecurities. They then saw advertisements for a school supply drive at their school district.
“This is just a little hobby. I never thought anyone would really buy them and I don’t need the money, but there are definitely other people out there that do or need food or school supplies,” said Olivia, who wants to be a school principal when she gets older. “I just thought the money would be way more useful if it was going to donations somewhere else.”