By Collin Breaux | Email: cbreaux@picketfencemedia.com | Twitter: @collin_breaux

When Rancho Mission Viejo resident Alex Aquino started Barnabas Clothing Co. in 2010, he never imagined he would one day produce face masks for people during a pandemic.

The California casual faith-based lifestyle brand went “belly up” for a month when the pandemic began since their usual clients were cancelling events. Eventually Aquino’s clients asked if he could produce masks, but he was hesitant at first because he assumed the items would be a blip in time.

“Well, I was wrong,” Aquino said. “The demand only continued to rise and challenged me to consider my customers’ request to design face masks for both retail and wholesale clients. So, I started designing.”

“That design got a lot of attention,” Barnabas Clothing Co. founder and Rancho Mission Viejo resident Alex Aquino said of the depicted mask. Photo courtesy of Rancho Mission Viejo.

He worked with local factories to produce the masks. One popular design was a mask that incorporated Rancho Mission Viejo imagery. Customers at The Ranch, and in San Juan Capistrano and beyond, liked the face masks and Ranch design.

“That design got a lot of attention,” Aquino said. “I wanted to do a limited edition design to remember what we endured as a community. It’s been cool to see how the community has received the design.”

Aquino moved to The Ranch about a year and a half ago from Pasadena and has grown to love the community. Aquino has had to adapt to market trends before. He closed brick-and-mortar stores he had in the summer of 2019 due to changes in retail shopping and is focusing primarily on his online brand.

He is not sure how much longer masks will be a part of daily public life, but is handling changes as they come.

“We’ll continue to make them as long as the market demands it,” Aquino said.

Barnabas Clothing Co. has also resumed manufacturing their usual products, as businesses and other parts of society gradually reopen.

The lockdown was challenging for Aquino, since he and his wife have a pair of young twins, and they both work out of a home office.

“In some ways it has been very challenging trying to get any work done, but the silver lining is it created time to spend with the family,” Aquino said. “We were able to stop and appreciate it for what it’s worth.”

Barnabas Clothing Co. founder and Rancho Mission Viejo resident Alex Aquino started manufacturing masks during the pandemic. Depicted is Alex, his wife Emily, their son Duke, and their daughter Kit. Photo courtesy of Alex Aquino.

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