When Jacinta Harshe, a senior at the University of Washington, was laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she was left with a lot of free time. After realizing that face masks were quickly becoming part of society’s “new normal,” and her aversion to the basic blue surgical masks, she decided to fill that free time by using her passion for graphic design to create a line of masks that were much more visually appealing. Eventually, Pacific Coast Design was launched on June 25.
“I’ve always loved graphic design and playing around in Photoshop, so I just started making designs for fun,” Jacinta says. “I try to base my designs off of current trends and patterns so people can mix and match them with the items they already have in their closets.”
Creating these designs is no easy feat. While some of them are capable of being finished within an hour, others have taken nearly a week to complete. Fortunately, Jacinta is well-versed in Photoshop and has been able to utilize her self-taught skills throughout the process.
“I’ve been using Photoshop since I was 11 and I’ve taught myself everything I know from YouTube and trial & error,” she says.
The upstart of Pacific Coast Design has also given Jacinta an opportunity to strengthen her marketing skills. Every mask designed is marketed, branded and promoted solely by Jacinta, primarily through Instagram.
“I have always expressed my creativity digitally through graphic design, video editing and even through my personal Instagram,” she says. “That’s why I eventually was drawn to marking in college. I love that it has a creative side but also an analytical side.”
Although Jacinta has gained marketing experience by working with a variety of small clothing brands, this is the first time she has ever built her own brand from the ground up. Since its launch just a few months ago, Pacific Coast Design has gained nearly 500 followers on Instagram and has partnered with social media influencers on both Instagram and TikTok.
Despite her success, Jacinta has faced her fair share of obstacles, the biggest being targeting a market that may not have a need for her product. Through her experience, Jacinta has found that many people who already own a few masks don’t find it necessary to invest in another one.
“I personally like having a fair variety of masks since I’m so into fashion,” Jacinta says. “Everyone is used to styling bags and shoes, but not many people think about styling masks. I’m trying to change that.”