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Jill Zarin is always in go mode — and during a global pandemic, it’s no different. Though The Real Housewives of New York City alum has been hunkered down in Boca Raton, Florida since March due to COVID-19, her stay in the Sunshine State hasn’t involved much lounging around.
On top of a strict exercise regimen — “it’s tennis three days a week, Pilates three days a week, and one day of rest, like the Sabbath” — Jill juggles a multitude of businesses. There’s real estate, her popular line of outdoor rugs is about to launch shag designs, and she has a new clock business, to name a few — not to mention two new ventures launched specifically in response to the coronavirus.
“We don’t really stop until we go to sleep,” she shared.
This time last year, no one could have guessed that Jill would be producing protective gear during a national crisis, but that’s exactly where she’s found herself. As coronavirus spread throughout the United States, the charity-minded New Yorker couldn’t just sit back and watch. Together, Jill and her daughter, Ally, launched Noshes for Nurses, which donated meals to over 30,000 healthcare workers nationwide, and has raised more than $60,000 on their GoFundMe page. Then, when there was a shortage of face masks which could help prevent the spread of the virus, the mother-daughter duo stepped up again.
Jill tapped her resources from past business endeavors (“I used to be president of a sock company, of all things,” she quipped) to start importing cloth masks. But in true Real Housewives fashion, any old masks would not do: “We thought we could tie dye them!” And so, Masks by Jill & Ally was born.
Now, Jill and Ally are hard at work tie dying masks by hand in their Florida backyard seven days a week. The result: reusable, washable, and comfortable face coverings that are as colorful as the RHONY alum’s personality.
Of course, a charitable element was a must. Selling both retail and wholesale, the brand donates a mask to a frontline worker for each one purchased. “We found it’s a great way to continue giving back in a different way,” said Ally. (Visit jillzarin.com/donation to learn more.)
The incredibly impactful work takes a ton of effort, but thankfully it isn’t all grueling. As it turns out, tie dying is very therapeutic. “In the fresh air, I love it,” gushed Jill. “I can’t have enough hours in the day, I swear to God, to tie dye, because of the satisfaction… When [the dyed masks] come out of the dryer, the satisfaction of them being done after this long eight-hour, 10-hour process and they come out great is beyond… It’s addicting.”
The future of the business, which just launched a back-to-school bundle, looks bright. The statement-making masks have been spotted on the likes of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' Lisa Rinna and her model daughters Delilah Belle Hamlin and Amelia Gray Hamlin, The Real Housewives of Atlanta's Cynthia Bailey, and The Real Housewives of Dallas' Kameron Westcott, among other celebrities. “It’s incredible how many people are supporting us,” noted Ally.
And, added Jill, the extra time spent with family doesn’t hurt either: “We enjoy for the most part being together. We’re having a good time.”
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