When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the Bay Area, Oakland fashion designer Taylor Jay had no choice but to temporarily close up her boutique and find another way to keep active and stay in business.

Like a lot of creative people, Jay pivoted to making face masks that people need to wear to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. Given the sleek, elegant aesthetic of Jay’s designs, her face coverings have garnered attention far beyond the Bay Area — most recently, all the way to a member of the British royal family.

Prince Harry was photographed in Los Angeles this week, wearing one of Jay’s “champagne and honey” face coverings while posing with runners before they join in the virtual version of the London Marathon. Jay shared the photo on her Taylor Jay Collection’s Instagram account.

“The Duke of Sussex poses with runners in Los Angeles before they take on the virtual Virgin Money London Marathon wearing our champagne & honey face cover masks!!” the caption reads. “Thank you #sussexsquad squad#sussexsquad for tagging @shoptaylorjay and identifying our covers!! We ❤ you!!”

Harry likely appreciates the uplifting message of Jay’s business model — to empower women with clothing that is “inclusive” and environmentally conscious. The Duke of Sussex and his wife, Meghan Markle, who now live in Montecito, are advocates for women’s empowerment, sustainability and racial justice.

“We design with every woman in mind, offering a wide range of standard and adaptable sizes. Because fashion is a great channel to advocate for true equality,” the company’s website reads. The company also says it partners with an ethically sourced, fair-labor-practicing factory in Oakland to produce environmentally safe garments from certified eco-friendly textiles.

KGO 7 reported that the Taylor Jay Collections is one of the many Black-owned and women-owned businesses in the Bay Area that was forced to quickly adapt to shelter in place orders.

The company, which is co-owned by Jay and her daughter, Brenda, started producing masks as soon as they could, and Jay told SFGate that they are still one of her brand’s best-selling items. For each mask sold, the company donates a mask to an essential worker.

The masks are made of 100-percent, repurposed cotton and are machine-washable.

“The production of these face covers will keep our team working during this time of uncertainty,” the company explained on its website. “Also, you are supporting a family woman-owned business (mother/daughter).”

Ellen DeGeneres featured Jay’s company on her show last week as part of her effort to spotlight Black-owned businesses. “Their goal is to empower women with beautiful and sustainable fashion,” DeGeneres said.


By Kelley Wheeler

Kelley Wheeler is a Metro reporter covering political issues and general assignments. A second-generation journalist, worked with all major news outlet, she holds a vast expeirience. Kelley is a graduate of USC with degrees in journalism and English literature. She is a recipient of Yale’s Poynter Fellowship in Journalism.

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