SEATTLE — Ugly Yellow House was named Best Mask Maker in 2020's Best of the Best.
"Ugly Yellow House" sure sounds like a funny name for a business... until you see headquarters.
Wholly operated out of a yellow West Seattle home, owners Tom and Amber Meyer once specialized in sewing and selling bowties for people and pets. Then the pandemic began.
"Once COVID hit and everything was being locked down, we kind of realized nobody needed a bowtie," said Tom.
There was something that everyone else did need -- something that quickly became a necessity for public outings this year: face masks.
"We spent a couple of days not knowing what to do, and then we realized we had a whole lot of fabric, and a whole lot of free time. And people could not get masks at the time."
The couple began making and giving away masks to anyone who needed them.
"Until almost May, all we did was donate," said Amber. "Then as we started to see that everyone was making them and our essential workers had been taken care of, we thought, okay, maybe this is something we can do business-wise."
Lined with unbleached cotton, Ugly Yellow House's masks are now available for purchase on their website. They come in different sizes for kids and adults, as well as dozens of unique patterns -- including lace, fringe, and a quintessentially PNW best seller: buffalo plaid.
"We are in Seattle, people really like buffalo plaid," said Tom.
Unlike many other homemade masks, theirs attach behind the head instead of behind the ears.
"That was the biggest thing for us, people need to wear them. They need to be comfortable [...] We actually need them on people's faces."
Even though business is booming, what this couple really wants is to get out of the mask-making business.
"I would love to go back to making bowties -- it's what I'm truly passionate about. But this is where we need to be," said Tom.
For now, their hope is to keep spreading awareness about the importance of mask-wearing.
"There's no leeway for this -there's no like, 'I'm sort of into it.' No questions, wear a mask. Can't afford one? We'll give you one. Can't find one, we'll make you one."
Ugly Yellow House masks run for $18 each. You can also purchase their bowties online at $35 for adults and $12 for pets.