It seems everyone is attempting to figure out their lives under quarantine and what a post-COVID world will look like. The way an organization or individual reacts in the face of uncertainty and disappointment speaks volumes about their character. I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Alexandra Abbott-Leitz and Alyssa Prince, the two incredible creatives who have taken action in the face of this pandemic to produce positivity and safety for the common good. Before COVID hit, Alex and Alyssa were busy booking performance contracts across the nation at the largest music festivals for GL&M Productions. The duo had big plans for 2020 and GL&M Design House but alas, those plans have taken a drastic turn. Check out the interview below to get a taste of what our Woman Crush Wednesday ladies are doing with Creators Vs COVID, what it’s all about, and how you can get involved.
How have each of you, Alyssa and Alexandra, been impacted by the festival cancelations associated with COVID-19?
Alexandra – COVID-19 has affected me on two very different spectrums. With our company, GL&M Productions has been hit extremely hard. We lost every contract this year in a matter of weeks. The canceled contracts aren’t even the saddest part. After 10 years of working behind the scenes and providing entertainers, only recently, more productions began to appreciate the value of specialty performers by providing budgets to hire our performers. Unfortunately now, I know it will be years before that will happen again since festivals will be trying to recover from the hit COVID brought this year.
Alyssa – Between designing and managing for GL&M Productions and my live painting circuit, this festival season is completely shot. I work year-round preparing for everything from production to vending, and I depend on the festival season as my main source of income, as do so many others. It’s a scary thought knowing our industry is the first to be shut down and will be the last to be reopened when many of us are out of work until further notice. Luckily, Alexandra and I were able to adapt quickly. Our project Creators Vs COVID is helping frontline heroes by utilizing the skills of the creatives working within our industry who are out of work.
How did Creators Vs COVID grow from an initial idea into an activated nationwide network of creators and coordinators?
Alyssa – Alex and I were in the midst of starting GL&M Design House when COVID19 hit in December. We had to put our original project on hold and we began sewing masks for Alex’s family’s essential business. As we were discussing the downfall of the 2020 festival season and how we were going to handle postponing GL&M Productions’ 10th year with Electric Forest, we came to a major realization: not only is there a PPE shortage, but we work with some of the top creators across the country! So, we thought, “Since everyone is out of a job, and have the technical skills to help, why not find a way to work together to be part of the solution?”
And with that, we pivoted. We used our platform to contact creators we thought would be interested in the project. Alexandra backed the project financially with a professional website and the necessary materials to get started. We initially reached out to our regional managers, which include Cerene Shepard (production manager for Lightning in a Bottle), Ashley Bertling (owner of Pyrotechniq Productions), and Ariel Tucker-Jones (a GL&M Productions performer and designer) who also creates costuming for Insomniac Events and her personal festival clothing line Youphoric Clothing.
As a team, we united a network of 40+ creators and collaborators across the country. We ran the numbers, streamlined a way to distribute sanitization supplies and materials, found Stretchy Screen to precut and package pieces, and focused on a system to keep cross-contamination at a minimum. We’ve since blossomed into a wonderful network of hardworking individuals utilizing their skills to help the cause.
Who are the main organizations partnering to make Creators Vs COVID a reality?
Alyssa – GL&M Design House, GL&M Productions, and all the amazing creatives in our industry who joined forces really got this project off the ground. However, our current industry partners made it all work seamlessly. Stretchy Screens, who typically print large-scale fabrics for events and festivals, have pre-cut the masks to help our creators be more efficient. PC3D is our 3D printing partner making all our custom
JA Foodservice was our first sponsor, which is Alexandra’s family business. Not only are they using sponsor boxes for their employees, but they’re also donating masks to Meals on Wheels and other essential non-profit organizations in need of masks.
It has been awesome seeing this all come together and how so many different industries have collaborated to battle this crisis.
What is the long term impact you are hoping to make with Creators Vs COVID?
Alexandra & Alyssa – We are hoping Creators Vs COVID can provide PPE donations to thousands of hospital workers, essential workers, organizations, and people in need across the country in order to help flatten the curve. We also want to provide Creators who work in our industry with financial relief while they are out of work. We have no idea when festivals or events will return and we’re hoping this project will encourage our team to stay creative and offer them support in the process.
What are the different ways people can get involved with or support Creators Vs COVID?
Both – With our new website, CreatorsVsCOVID.com, we have made it extremely easy to get involved. Those who want to support our cause can share our website via social media or other, make donations, apply to be a Creator, or submit a sponsor form to be a supporting partner to the project. Those who are in need of PPE for their essential workplace are also able to request masks for their company or organization.
You can now purchase a mask on our website, as well. We have many different styles available. All our masks purchased come with a PE 2.5 Filter and an ear saver strap. The profits from our e-commerce sales will be rolled back into our project to make more donated masks.
How are the donations being utilized within the organization?
Both – Each donation goes towards supplying the high-quality materials that make up the 100-mask kits sent to our Creators. Our creators then sew them and donate them to their local hospitals, essential workplaces, and organizations on the front line. Each mask kit includes all of the fabric, elastic, nose wire, and other materials needed, which are pre-cut and packaged by our partner Stretchy Screens. Each kit includes materials to make 75 rectangle Healthcare Masks, 25 Rounded Masks for other essential workplaces or organizations in need, and 100 nanofiber filters to go with each mask donated.
Each Creator will also receive a starter kit which includes sanitization supplies such as hand sanitizer, alcohol spray, a variety of custom 3D printed mask making tools, and more.
For every $900 received, Creators Vs Covid is also able to give six industry workers a contribution reimbursement. Those who donate $300 or more will receive one of our decorated Plague Masks, which is a fully functional and handmade mask by GL&M Design House which can be worn, cleaned, and sanitized. Each Plague Mask will also come with a matching rounded mask and filter.
What unique design opportunities have arisen through this new community effort?
Both – It’s really inspiring to see all of the creativity that has come from our many Creators. Though we are making rectangle and rounded masks, the artistic spin that has been put on these general mask patterns make people actually want to wear them, because they look good. We have refined the fabric patterns for a great fit, and have designed a custom 3D-printed adjuster band that makes each mask comfortable and doesn’t slide down the back of the head when worn.
We are also collaborating with talented live painters who are struggling without festival work. These artists will be custom painting our Plague Masks and will be available on our e-commerce page within our website. Proceeds from these one-of-a-kind masks will pay the artist for their work, and roll a portion back into the Creators Vs COVID fund to keep the cycle of donation masks continuous.
With the partnering e-commerce portion of the site becoming available in the near future, what products can we expect to find there?
Both – SO MANY COOL THINGS!
Starting Friday, May 8th we will have basic Rectangle Mask and Rounded Mask styles, which are both filtered and available in our staple GL&M Design House fabrics and limited edition fabric. Extra filters and our custom-designed mask adjuster straps will also available through our website.
For those in need of multiple masks, have the ability to sew, and want a more budget-friendly option to get masks for their family and friends, we will have Family Mask Kits available. Our Family Mask Kits come with all of the supplies and materials needed to make masks at home.
Being Creatives, we come up with new ideas every day. To the point that we have to reel ourselves in sometimes. Definitely keep an eye out for all the fun things we have in store.
*All Featured Images Via GL&M Design House and Edited by Alexander @gudimovart*