BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — A Buffalo Ballet Company and a sewing shop are teaming together for a social distancing effort.
“A lot of what we do here at Neglia is collaborate and with COVID we haven't been able to do what we normally would like to,” explained Bronwen Battaglia, director of logistics and communications, Neglia Ballet.
As dance students head back to the Neglia Ballet studio's in Buffalo, social distancing remains center stage.
Battaglia said she wanted a unique way to remind dance students to remain six feet apart and that's when they created the Llama Mask Project.
“And I just happen to find out that llamas are six feet long and we love llamas here. Battaglia explained.
At the same time she ran into Joann Tomasulo who was wearing an embroidered mask.
Tomasulo is a board member at Stitch Buffalo on Niagara Street. That's where she discovered the hand-stitched masks.
“One day I walk in here and there's these embroidered masks — this one in particular and so I had to get it,” Tomasulo remarked.
At Stitch Buffalo — refugee women are encouraged to use their beautiful sewing talents to create hand-crafted items at a fair wage
Refugee women from all over the world attend workshops at Stitch Buffalo and receive a percentage of the sales of products at the shop.
“Different women from all over the world, who are refugees come here and bring their artistic craft ability to different products,” Tomasulo said.
Hkwang Lung is Burmese. She's making the special llama masks being sold by both Stitch Buffalo and Neglia to share in the profits for their organizations.
Hkwang Lung is a refugee from Burmese. She is using her talents at Stitch Buffalo to create masks as a joint collaboration with @negliaballet for their Llama Mask Project. The story tonight at 6 @WKBW #thellamamaskproject #stitchbuffalo pic.twitter.com/z2OeFzyp3j— eileen buckley (@eileenwkbw) October 28, 2020
“It’s just really a nice project to work together with another great organization,” Battaglia noted.
Hkwang speaks very little English, so her granddaughter served as an interpreter by phone.
7 Eyewitness News asked why she's at Stitch Buffalo.
“Because she is skilled at sewing and she found the store — because it's her favorite thing to do,” replied Lung through her granddaughter.
Hkwang came to Buffalo nearly six years ago with her son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter for a better life in America.
“It’s quite different — from her country and here,” the granddaughter explained.
Hkwang said there is nothing like Stitch Buffalo in Burmese.
“And life is much, much better here — for all of you?” Buckley asked.
“Yes, a lot better,” the granddaughter responded for her grandmother.
And now she's truly “Buffalo Strong” — one 'stitch at a time’.
The Llama Project masks can be purchased for $25. You can click this link for more information.