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  • Writer's pictureAmbar Campos

The Cost of Masks

ARM - Helping to get resources to those who need it.

If you’ve been following Artists’ Resource Mobilization for at least the last couple weeks, you’ll have seen our Infographics showcasing where your money goes when you purchase one of our Fitted Masks. But what does that pie chart actually mean?

Let’s break it down.

Of the $10* cost of a Fitted Mask with nose shaping, the largest percentage by far (57.5%) goes to the people making it happen. Literally. This includes the person who cuts the pieces out of the fabric, the person who stitches them together, and the person who has to drive for materials and pick up the finished masks, etc. As an organization founded to help Theater Artisans have work and resources, especially in times of need, it was very important to us to make sure that each person is able to receive a living wage. 

(*Cost per mask for Custom and Group orders. Prices on Etsy are retail and are listed at $14.00 per mask to include $4 cost of Shipping & Handling)

11.5% covers the cost of Materials in each Mask. A dollar and change may not seem like much, but for the amount of material used, it’s a decent price for good quality.  Similarly, the 6.9% for Operational Costs covers things like the occasional office supplies or the use of additional tools. 

Potentially the most confusing slice of this delicious money pie is the 24.1% allotted for “Donation Offset”. If this is an unfamiliar term, this amount doesn’t just make the cost to the customer a “nice, even number”. It actually helps to build up a buffer against unexpected expenses like replacing a tool, or a week where there is more in labor to be paid out before the finished masks have been paid for. This also covers research, graphic design, and other labor expenses that don’t easily fit into the rest of the breakdown.

But wait a minute! Aren’t there concerns worldwide right now, about how little stitchers are paid in the cut and sewn garment industry? How much of that 57.5% in “Labor” costs actually goes to the stitchers? 

(I can assure you; no one is getting paid big bucks to write funny ads to convince you to buy masks and “save” the Theater Artists, but not actually paying said Artist much. In fact, a good portion of the Marketing for A.R.M. is donated Staff time from our parent organization the Apparel Industry Foundation, Inc.)

But let’s bring out those Infographics again, shall we?

Some tasks can be done in larger batches, like cutting out the masks. So on a per piece basis, they are a smaller percentage of the labor costs than, say, stitching. 

Additionally, our ‘per piece’ rates are created from the average amount of time it took to cut and then stitch each batch of masks, combined with an hourly rate of $15 - 20 per hour (depending on task). This puts us above the recently updated Illinois minimum wage, and means that we can offer more of a “living wage”. Which is a large part of why we exist. 

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