Back when the pandemic started, The Real Housewives of New York City alum and Jill Zarin Home Founder, Jill Zarin, and daughter Ally Shapiro wanted to do something to show their appreciation to those tirelessly working on the frontlines. That led to the duo establishing the Noshes for Nurses GoFundMe, as well as founding Masks by Jill & Ally.
For every Masks by Jill & Ally face mask purchased, one is donated to a frontline worker. So far, the mother/daughter team has been able to contribute more than 15,000 masks to frontliners and raise $60,000 through Noshes for Nurses, allowing them to donate meals to over 40,000 healthcare workers nationwide.
We had the pleasure of catching up with Zarin and Shapiro about their inspiring efforts.
Masks by Jill & Ally are quite a hit – with Charli D’Amelio, Countess Luann de Lesseps, Kyle Richards, Nene Leakes, Jen Selter, Stephanie Gotlieb, Heather McDonald, Cynthia Bailey, Kameron Westcott and numerous other notable names donning the chic designs. What initially led to the creation of this project?
JZ & AS: Can you believe that list! They really have transcended across the board. When we started our GoFundMe, Noshes for Nurses, in response to the pandemic, we were focused on not only feeding frontliners, but showing our support and giving our thanks for all of their work and courage. Once Noshes took off and we had been distributing meals for three months, we began to see the huge need for PPE. While it started with hospital workers, as masks became required essential workers were looking for non N-95 masks to wear outside of work. We had the opportunity to import masks, and were inspired by the huge tie-dye craze. We started dyeing masks in our backyard and the word quickly spread. When we woke up to thousands of DMs asking how they can buy our masks, we knew we were on to something big. While we continue tie-dyeing each mask, our team has grown to keep up with the demand! At our core is our mission to deliver masks to those that have been the true heroes throughout this pandemic.
Is this the first time you two have worked together on a project?
JZ: Yes! I have always had my foot in the home decor business. From bedding, to rugs and (soon) clocks, I have lots of experience working with manufactures and stores. Ally, however, was working in art until March when her company went bankrupt and laid her off. With our combined passions and interests we have worked well at balancing each other’s strengths and improving our weaknesses. Every day we learn something new! I am so lucky I get to go to work with my daughter every day.
You hand dye each tie-dye mask. What are some of your favorite tie-dye color combos?
JZ: We actually put our favorites in a discounted bundle! I love orange, pink and sherbet (jillzarin.com/jill-summer-picks).
AS: I love cotton candy plus some new colors I came up with while experimenting: cotton candy and lilac! Embroidery is also a great option for a more sophisticated look (jillzarin.com/ally-summer-picks).
For every face mask purchased, one is donated to a frontline worker and since launching in May 2020, you’ve already donated over 15,000 masks to frontliners. What has it meant to be able to support those working tirelessly on the frontline?
JZ & AS: And our goal is 50,000 masks, which we are hoping to reach in the next few weeks. Our impact honestly hasn’t really hit me yet. We have been so isolated, not really leaving our house in Boca since March, that I have not had much contact with the outside world. However, every time we get a FaceTime from a hospital unit, a video, picture, or text expressing how grateful they are for us thinking and caring about them makes our day. We know first hand what it’s like living in a hospital, I can’t imagine going through that without your loved ones.
You’re also spearheading Noshes for Nurses. Tell us about that amazing fundraising campaign.
AS: Our GoFundMe, Noshes for Nurses, started with me reaching out to my community of friends and family on the frontlines, but since launching in March, it has become a platform where people from around the country can now reach out to request meals, transportation, and masks. We have donated meals and noshes to over 40,000 people in hundreds of hospitals, medical centers, and facilities. I constantly check in on these heroes to make sure they have basic needs being met since they barely have time for themselves. While we started by donating meals to nurses, we learned that another huge need was getting to and from work. One doctor I spoke with said she was paying $125 to get to and from Elmhurst hospital every day. That of course is the exception, where other workers are still taking public transportation. So, we partnered with Lyft to provide free ride credits in NYC for hospital workers. Once masks became a required part of daily life for everyone, we pivoted again and decided to not only sell non-PPE masks to the greater public, but for every one purchased we donate one. From Arizona, to Boston, Wisconsin, Illinois and NYC, hundreds of essential workers and frontliners have shared their story of needing a comfortable and reusable mask when they are off duty. Not only are our masks better for the environment, they are comfortable, breathable, and chic!
Is there anything else you would like to add?
JZ & AS: While we miss our “old lives” we are grateful for the experiences and lessons this time has given us. We are all trying to make the best of our situation while doing what we can to thank those risking our lives for all of us.
For more information about Masks by Jill & Ally, visit jillzarin.com. For more information about Noshes for Nurses, visit www.gofundme.com.