Cindy’s Corners: Model Heather Payne helps People “Mask Up” Fashionably

Cover Photo: Cindy’s Corners
All Photos: Emerging Heroes- Heather Payne

Like many in the fashion business, Heather Payne had to “redesign” her business focus during COVID.

We recently sat down to discuss how she, like many, are finding ways to create, work and even help others in the world of clothes and accessories.

Working in front and behind the runway for over two decades, Payne’s face is a familiar to many fashionistas. Payne, a former model, has graced the pages of renowned magazines including Vogue, Elle and Harper’s Bazaar.
Talking for coffee and through Zoom, Payne’s energy and smile turned out to be just as inspiring as her products and her goal to help others.

C: What makes the masks you design different and so appealing?
HP: I want to make people feel free and create an uplifting sense of self in these challenging times. “Payne said. “The masks make the expression that people can’t express themselves. You can be a cat in the morning, a tiger in the day or a fox at night.

Payne’s bestsellers include cat and dog faces that people match to their pets.

The masks are made of Dupont’s Silvadur, a moisture wicking anti-bacterial material that can be washed numerous times and not lose its effectiveness, and are adjustable to fit any face and custom clips will be available so people don’t lose their masks.

C: Your masks are fashionable in many ways. Tell us more.
HP: I took my approach to making these masks like I do in my activewear line. First, the masks are made with materials that are safe and comfortable. Too many complain that masks are itchy or they can’t keep them on. Between the stitches, with are hand sewn and the elasticity of the fabrics we use, customers return to purchase more masks as they would of piece of jewelry.

C: Speaking of jewelry, you just added mask chains to your collection.
HP: Yes, this is really exciting because I love necklaces and being a model, practically every successful collection that I photographed or walked on a runway for featured a statement, bold necklace. I thought, why not “dress up the masks.” The chains are made to match and wear with real gold and silver. They help elevate wearing masks to a business meeting or party.

Payne’s mask chains make great necklaces and bracelets alone.

Payne began her journey in 2011 with the launch of her first brand PAYNE Apparel, which has been carried nationally and internationally by most major department stores and celebrated boutiques and gyms.

A portion of the proceeds from sales of the masks go to Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization. Additionally, she starting supporting St.Jude’s as a tribute to
Chadwick Boseman, who recently died of cancer and spent hours with children suffering from the disease.

Emerging Heroes is what Payne calls “wildly optimistic”, an expressive collection of active inspired clothing born out of a desire to create something strong, beautiful and truly unique. Blending the line between fashion, art and social impact, the collection celebrates our inner-heroes.  Each piece is meant to inspire and to mindfully integrate into each activity of your day. Designed to fit a dynamic lifestyle, the garments are fully functional in any chosen environment; whether from a day of rest, to a vigorous workout or another exhilarating night. Emerging Heroes is designed to awaken and enlighten your journey.

As Payne describes it, “The mask collection is a natural extension of the spirit of Emerging Heroes. Walking down the street you can make ten friends; I look at it as a community of smiles.
What better way to get through a day of wearing a mask. Plus you can make your kids into kittens, your husband into a lion. ”

C: What’s in your future?
HP: Payne said she is expanding the collection to include a Tri-Kini, a swimwear collection that is coordinated with the mask image that will extend the concept to the beach and pool.

C: Any final words?
HP: Emerging Heroes is produced in New York using our boutique factory and an all female production staff.  I am proud to employ New Yorkers during this troubling time. American made is important to me. We produce in small batches to ensure that each product meets our stringent guidelines to maintain a tight supply chain and a commitment to limiting waste. Our factory is dedicated to the artistry of the brand and implements the utmost diligence in executing our designs. Careful attention is exercised to ensure every garment is constructed to last. I am open to designing unique masks for an organization and donating part of the products back.

About the Author
Cindy Grosz is a Media Personality and award-winning Jewish Activist. She can be reached at
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