Bay Area-based business 'An Ethnic Celebration' sells face coverings made from graduation caps

MARTINEZ, Calif. -- Beverly Jones' "An Ethnic Celebration" is an Easy Bay business that designs custom caps for graduating students.

"The company started with a dream, a vision. It wasn't on my mind before I went to bed and when I woke up the next morning, it was taunting me," Jones shares.

On that morning, 28 years ago, she created her first graduation cap, which became the foundation for her company. Using vibrant and dynamic fabrics from different parts of Africa, Nigeria and Ghana, her caps became a sensation.

"Students...they really love the idea of choosing the final toppings for their graduations," Jones explains, "It brings a lot of joy to my heart to have a dream, a vision and see it come together."

But with the COVID 19 pandemic, graduations were quickly canceled and Jones' business began to fade away.

"It was devastating because that's my income," Jones reveals.

Her son, Jason, adds, "It was definitely a shell shock when I heard she wasn't doing the graduations this year." But one day, a neighbor knocked on her door and things changed in an instant.

Jones elaborates, "He asked if I could make a mask and I told him that I never made a mask before. Well, he just told me, 'I'll be there tomorrow about 2:15 to pick my mask up.' I got up the next morning and tried to figure it out and I did." Jones created a very functional mask that had a lot of color and style.

Jason remembers the day he first saw one of her new face masks designed with the colorful African fabric.

"She was making masks. I was like... Mom, these are really nice masks...and no one else is going to have access to this fabric," Jason says.

And after Jason and his girlfriend posted a picture of their new masks on Instagram, the response was overwhelming. "The orders just been rolling in," Jones says with a smile.

"For her to be able to do 260 in a matter of a couple of weeks, by herself, essentially is just amazing," Jason shares.

Shifting focus to making face masks has given Jones a renewed sense of joy.

"It makes me feel good that I'm taking part in this hard time that we are going through. It makes me feel really good and really special."