By Josh Margolis
ROCKY BOY, Mont. (NMB) – A fashion designer from Rocky Boy has been selected to make face masks for the Department of Commerce.
Rebekah Jarvey, an enrolled member of the Chippewa Cree and Blackfeet Tribes, will be making 1,000 masks for the ‘Montana Aware‘ campaign.
The three-fold style, CDC compliant handmade masks will be sent to Helena and distributed throughout the state.
Jarvey is a fourth-generation beader and sewer that takes pride in each mask she makes.
“It’s rare nowadays to have that much generational knowledge passed down in the family. So that’s my family legacy and I take pride with my great-grandmother, that taught my grandma, then my grandma taught my mom and my mom taught me. And I’ve been teaching my son right now, so he’s a fifth-generation beader. He doesn’t necessarily sew yet, but he does bead. So it’s our family legacy and I’m carrying on the tradition and culture.”
Jarvey says she made her first mask back in March after the community asked for people to help out, and it quickly turned into more than just a hobby.
“I really gravitated towards it. My first mask I made was for myself just to see if I did it right, if could do it right, and if I liked it. And I did, so I started making masks for friends and family. It just went from there. In June, I made a mask, but it was more of an art piece, more than an everyday mask, and it went viral on social media. People from all over the world reached out, shared their stories, and appreciated the mask that I made.”
The mask that went viral has been named ‘Day & Night,’ and was created by using recycled Louis Vuitton purses.
“I didn’t think it was going to be as big as it was. To me, it was just an expression of my art, and what I was going through at the time I was making it…it was the first time I ever got to put my whole self into one piece. Usually I do custom orders. It’s usually the colors and designs they want. (This) mask was my whole self, my whole idea, my own colors.”
By July, Jarvey set up a website and had created her own business. She says she wants to change people’s perception that wearing a mask has to be a burden.
“I’m happy that there is this mask project. I think it’s so important for everybody to wear a mask and practice safety and social distancing. A lot of peoples lives have been lost and affected, and we need to take the neccessary precautions to help flatten the curve. Wearing a mask doesn’t have to be so bad. It can be a fashion statement.”
Jarvey will be making the masks for this campaign throughout the month of October, all while juggling a full-time job, grad school and family obligations.