Editor's note: Quotes from Marcela Centron were translated from Spanish to English by her daughter Francisca Centron.
Before public health freshman Francisca Centron moved to UT, she sat at home with her mother in Katy, Texas, amid piles of multicolored fabrics and sewing needles.
At the beginning of quarantine, face masks were in high demand in Katy because of shortages in the area, so Marcela Centron, Francisca’s mother, designed and sewed masks to protect their family.
“The fear of the unknown was my drive,” Marcela said. “When you have water up to your neck, all you have to do is swim.”
Marcela made Francisca four masks in patterns such as tie-dye and blue china. Francisca then posted a video of the masks on Snapchat to share with her friends.
“When I posted on my story, everyone was like, ‘I love these, are you selling them?’” Francisca said. “That’s when I made an Instagram page. … The orders started flooding in from Katy and even around Houston.”
That’s when the pair started Masks for Katy. Francisca began spending two to three hours each week posting advertisements and taking orders through their Instagram page. Meanwhile, Marcela started spending seven to eight hours each day cutting and sewing masks.
“Seeing people wearing masks, taking care of each other and protecting each other — I feel like it’s a job well done,” Marcela said.
Before Masks For Katy, Marcela had little sewing experience and looked for advice from her own mother, a talented seamstress who lives in Chile. Marcela then quickly mastered the skill.
In July, the Instagram account @katy4justice, which promotes social action in Katy, featured Masks For Katy. Orders then skyrocketed, reaching as far as Oklahoma, Florida, Illinois and Tennessee.
After Francisca moved to Austin in August, she met biology freshman Abby Allen, who later ordered Masks for Katy’s brown paisley design.
“The shape and fabric allows for their masks to be incredibly comfortable, which is hard to come by,” Allen said. “I also love how it’s a mother-daughter duo.”
Marcela said she enjoys making the masks because it helps her miss her daughter a little less while she’s away at college. But Marcela said she is praying the world will soon no longer need masks.
For now, Francisca and Marcela hope Masks for Katy offers safe and fashionable options for their customer base.
“The best thing you can do for someone is give them a mask,” Francisca said.