During these always strange and often scary times, it’s more important than ever to check in with the people we care about. First order of business? Making sure they’re taking care of themselves. Today, we’re chatting with Moroccanoil Product Designer Anna Ocon to find out how she’s keeping busy, staying sane, and all about an amazing face masks initiative she launched to help support essential workers and home care workers.
Where are you? Who are you quarantined with?
I’m in Mexico City with my roommate and our dogs, Olivia and King.
How are you taking care of yourself?
First of all, trying to keep busy to stay sane. I’m only reading news once a day to stay informed, but I don’t over-read (anymore). I try to do activities I’ve always enjoyed, but usually don’t have as much time for, like drawing (IG—@wipmx) and cooking. I play piano, so I try learning new pieces at least 3 times per week. Also, I take the dogs to a pretty isolated large park, and then I’m working on a face masks project—more on that later!
Which beauty products are you loving these days?
We are living a very strange dry heat wave in Mexico City, so I use Dry Body Oil all the time.
What’s your best work from home tip?
Ever since I moved to Mexico City almost 5 years ago, I’ve worked from home. My tips for everyone who is not used to this: Set up a physical work space with all of your tools close or around you—just like if you were at the office. Try to sit in a comfortable position/chair, and try to keep normal office hours. (Although I will say I am at my most productive at night, so I usually end up working later days now that we are confined.) Also, definitely try to activate yourself early: work out, shower, eat breakfast, whatever you need to get energized before you start working. Avoid multiple visits to the kitchen or caving to other distractions. Oh! And definitely listen to A LOT OF MUSIC!
How has this experience changed you?
Even though Mexico City is sort of like a smaller NYC, there is a lot of inequality wherever you see it: salaries, healthcare, education, gender… I guess I think a lot about people that are the most vulnerable, the ones that make a daily living and must commute to work every day to feed their families. That’s why I wanted to help vulnerable women with this project. Also, the mind is so powerful that it can be our best or worst enemy, so I strongly believe that keeping busy is like therapy. Keeping busy keeps us sane.
What are you listening to?
Röyksopp today—while intensively cleaning my apartment.
What’s the last thing that made you laugh?
Karen pet memes!
How are you taking care of others?
I think these are difficult times for everyone. We all deal with the pandemic stress in different ways, and what’s happening does not affect us all equally. I try to check in with my friends as often as possible—both the ones around the world and the ones nearby. It is important to do mental “health checks” on the people around and close to you.
I’ve also started helping organize the production of cotton face masks that we then distribute to essential workers. It started with my longtime friends Andres and Diego. They own a company called SPK_MEX that has CNC machines and creates furniture for restaurants, hotels, and office (among others).
Andres knew they could use some of the machinery they have to cut larger quantities of fabric, and he found a pattern. I ran to a fabric store, and we pretty much got to work. I had the idea to ask my home care worker, Xochitl (pronounced “Sochi”), if she knew how to sew. She (along with other home care workers) isn’t coming to work at my house or office right now—though we are still able to pay her, fortunately. So I asked if she had some extra time. It turns out that not only did she know how to sew, but her mom actually owns a sewing machine. They were the first two to join the cause.
From there, I asked friends to ask friends of friends if they knew other home care workers like Xochitl that also might like to get involved. We now have a network of 7 women (two are even pro-seamstresses!) working on the face masks. I distribute the fabric to all of them and pick them up once they’re done—but don’t worry, I don’t leave my car!
What happens with the face masks once they’ve been created?
Well, so far we’ve made about 600 in total. 300 were created for Moroccanoil—we sent 100 to the Moroccanoil warehouse in New Jersey to protect the workers there and the rest to some of our distributors in the US. About 300 face masks have already been sold or given away for free to people with limited resources.
The plan is to sell to keep producing more and donate others to essential workers and other people who have to leave their homes. We use 50% of the proceeds to purchase materials to make more. The other 50% will go right back to the out-of-work home care workers who are helping us produce the face masks—which means they get to stay home, too! (Andres, Diego, and I don’t take a profit.) We’ve also already given some away to people we encounter, like the patrolling officers that patrol our street.
I should note that the face masks are not medical-grade. However, they’re 100% cotton, washable, and reusable, and you can sterilize them at home. And they still help slow COVID-19 spread—not to mention they’re a great reminder to avoid touching your face. We are now trying to perfect the masks by adding a side opening so users can add a filter.
How can people help?
STAY HOME! And contribute to the cause by wearing a face mask! The ones we are making here are being sold for a minimum contribution of $30 MXN // $1.25 USD per face mask.
You can read our last installment of the Take Care series (with Moroccanoil Co-Founder Carmen Tal!) here.