Last week, as soon as the news spread in Xinguara about the first two local cases of infections from Covid-19, Layane stopped designing and sewing dresses as usual and started to sew masks from her scraps of fabric. The small town is in inland Brazil, next to Amazonia, and, according to 26-year-old Layane, there isn’t anything that interesting to do there. “Before, people were not really caring for the recommendations of the government, and while schools, shops and churches closed, many were organizing parties to socialize from home,” says Layane.
Now that the fear has spread, Layane is working against the clock and making up to 100 masks per day to supply the locals in her town. She uses all kinds of fabrics, with all kinds of designs, and her masks are very attractive. Without enough industrial masks for everybody, Layane was quick to grab the opportunity of this new business, and while we are connected online, and I portray her in her atelier, a few neighbors interrupt us, coming in to buy her hand-made masks.
Layane grew up without a father, whom she never met. She was brought up by her mum and has three brothers. She works from home and her house is beside her mum’s. She went to boarding school in Brasilia from the age of 12 to 17. Not having enough money, she couldn’t go to university and ended up as a cleaning lady until she set up her own business as a seamstress. Her dream would have been to study psychology, but she had to pick a more affordable option and is now doing an online degree in Portuguese and English literature, in the comfort of her home and during breaks between sewing.
She is a solitary, and books are her best company. She has a motorcycle and few friends, “quality rather than quantity,” according to her. She goes to have a meal every day with her mum and brothers, then gets back home to listen to music while sewing a new set of masks.
While the shadow of the Covid-19 hovers over her town, nice dresses will need to wait!