Fashion Activist Dove ’09 Creates Handmade Ankara Face Masks – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Fashion Activist Dove ’09 Creates Handmade Ankara Face Masks

Black Monarchy, the Buffalo, N.Y.-based fashion and jewelry boutique owned and operated by Phylicia Dove ’09, is offering support during the coronavirus pandemic through the sale of Monarch Face Masks.

“We’ve always prided ourselves on being an ethical and conscious brand where fashion is our medium of connectivity,” says Dove. “Creating and supplying masks is a way to be part of a solution and to support wellness.”

Each washable, lightweight mask is made with a variety of Ankara fabric and is meant to cover both the nose and mouth. Elastic bands on the sides aid in a snug fit. The interior is layered with breathable fabric for a comfortable wear. Dove notes that the masks should be hand washed frequently in hot water if worn on a daily basis.

She explains that the Ankara masks are a fashion item and not surgical or medical grade. They cannot prevent the user from contracting the coronavirus. Rather, they are designed to limit the spread by reducing the user’s ability to touch their face. Surgical or medical masks are recommended for medical professionals and those who have COVID-19.

While the masks are designed for durability and effectiveness in preventing users from touching their faces, it was also important for Dove that they represent what Black Monarchy stands for — fashion and activism. “Fashion transcends language and it’s our favorite dialect,” she says, noting that a portion of every mask purchased is donated to displaced and refugee communities.

Dove says it was Associate Professor of Africana Studies Marilyn Jimenez who instilled in her the value of global citizenship. “At the Colleges I learned that my impact, no matter how small, could create a movement,” she says, “and that it’s my duty to civically engage with issues in the world and use my gifts to address them.”

So far, Black Monarchy has provided more than 300 masks to customers and through donations. Dove is working to expand the project; those interested in offering support can contact the shop at blackmonarchystaff@gmail.com.