With masks being part of our wardrobe for the foreseeable future, why not make a fashion statement? While being stylish wasn’t the impetus behind the creation of Be Safe Bandanas, it is one of the benefits. On top of that, they are so much more than a face covering, which will make them usable long after COVID-19 becomes a distant memory.
Jacquie Chandler of Incline Village is the creator of these fabric shields.
“Already grateful to Tahoe Forest Hospital and Cancer Center, I jumped in and contributed, following their mask-making guidelines. The cotton three-pleat felt limited, so when community coverage need emerged, I started to play,” Chandler said. “My daughter, Shay Strauss, a third-year med student at UNR, had been enlightening my mask making journey all along and this set me on a quest to see if there might be an intersection of protection, function, fashion and fun. Given my background in leather, I never liked the fraying aspect of fabrics, but after seeing a Lycra mask and learning how tightly woven fabrics were preferred (less permeable) in masks, I started to explore.”
Chandler was able to incorporate her daughter’s request that the covering be more like a bandana than a mask that fits tight across the face and loops over the ears. Having it available at all times and not just stuffed in a pocket was another request.
“The fibers are tightly woven, which makes it hard to blow out a candle out through the bandana mask. This is a test for permeability,” Chandler said.
It’s so easy to pull over your head and then let hang around your neck until needing to use it as a mask. A dart on the nose ensures it is centered correctly. In the back is a clasp to tighten as need be.
When not being used as a mask, they can be flipped or folded to become an ascot, headband, cool band, visor, or sun hat. On her website Chandler poses with the bandana in its many forms. “Even without a pandemic, there can be times you wish you did have a mask—coughing, changing cat litter, exhaust fumes,” she said.
Most days she can be found in her garage making the multi-functional bandana with the help of David Colley.
Designing functional accessories with an eye toward sustainability is nothing new for Chandler. While living in Santa Barbara she taught herself leather design, and for more than 15 years made a career out of it. She still is in the leather craftsmanship business with JChandler Primal Designs.
A marriage, two kids, a move to the Bay Area, then a divorce led her to the world of marketing. A job brought her to Lake Tahoe in 1999. While it didn’t last long and health issues got her down, she was back on her feet in the new millennium.
“In May 2007, a random invitation took me to the 2007 SMG Tourism Conference. After seeing the geotourism presentation, I saw a sustainability solution and by the end of the event the executive director for National Geographic Center Sustainable Destinations appointed me as Tahoe’s geotourism liaison,” Chandler said. “No background in tourism, yet a seasoned corporate story coach, and very empathic to the plight of visitors trying to access the magic of Tahoe, I looked for creative ways to facilitate the emergence of a geotourism visitor menu through activities that do no harm. Given the entrenchment of the 1960s, auto-dependent, two seasons-visitor menu this was not easy.”
Not to be deterred and encouraged by other passionate locals (Dennis Oliver, Tom Wendell, John Dayberry, John Hara, Cary Crites, Stuart Yount, Maureen McCarthy) I co-founded Sustainable Tahoe.” That passion for making Tahoe sustainable is now at the root of all that she does.
In 2017, Chandler was asked to create LASER snowflake ornaments for the Incline Village visitor center. She agreed to if they could come with a message to inspire stewardship and gratitude. That is when she and Colley started to collaborate. He is the expert on the LASER Share Gratitude Products was launched. For now, the bandanas are being sold under that line.
“I currently buy the fabrics locally, so prints are limited by availability. The next step is to incorporate Tahoe-relevant local artwork we can print on these bandanas so they keep travelers safe, while providing a unique souvenir that inspires active participation in a culture of stewardship,” Chandler said.
At some point she would like to outsource the making of the bandanas. She hopes to have a production sample available this month. “I would like to find a competent manufacturer in the watershed to support locals. Maybe with China trade choked a bit, America-made has a chance.” A provisional patent is in the works.