Like many of us, Ritika turned to cooking and baking as a coping mechanism at the beginning of lockdown. However, when the novelty of turning to these pastimes had soon worn off and seeing more people struggle to go by, Ritika wanted to give back to her community as she had done before the pandemic.
The Indian student from Melbourne University realised that COVID-19 had resulted in a rise of international student issues, many of which were yet to be addressed. Due to border closures, students have lost their jobs and face difficulties returning to their home country. They remain one of the most severely impacted groups in Melbourne, left with little support and options to sustain themselves.
Setting her apron aside, Ritika then founded FLORALRESTRICT with the intention to address the mask shortages while helping the international student community. The masks are also sustainable, reusable, 100% fabric, triple-layered and come in various floral patterns.
“All profits will be donated back to the community,” she said.
Ritika and her team aim to raise $20,000 to fund their support of at least 10 international students. With every mask sold, the extra funds goes towards helping international students. So far, they’ve managed to raise enough money to financial support 4 international students and FLORALRESTRICT is currently reaching the halfway mark of its financial goal. The team also wishes to donate half of their profits to organisations working exclusively for international students during this trying time.
Believing that face masks should be fun, Ritika and her team aim to spread positive messages of kindness and resilience, especially within the international student community.
Ritika also encouraged everyone to take time out to look out for one another, and emphasised on the importance of being mindful of the people around us.
“We just need to manage this stress one day at a time, doing just enough to tie us over until all this over and we can resume some normality in our lives,” she said.
Ritika also stressed the importance of support for growing mental health issues brought on by COVID-19 and the respective lockdown measures. A national survey carried out by Wesley Mission found that three in four Australians have identified COVID-19 related mental health concerns.
“One of the issues that has been neglected during the pandemic is that staying home is not always staying safe for people in abusive relationships and children in toxic households,” she added.
As long as face coverings are mandated within Victoria, FLORALRESTRICT will continue to be in production. While uncertain of what FLORALRESTRICT would look like in the future, Ritika hopes to continue their mission beyond the pandemic, to continue working for the community, supporting and uplifting them through their works.
“International students are an asset, not a liability and I am keen to keep working as long as I need to establish that,” Ritika concluded.
How to purchase?
If interested you can find their page at: https://chuffed.org/project/a-floral-solution
Priced at $22, for a customisable mask, FLORALRESTRICT provides a wide range of other packages for you to choose from. This includes an iso BFF pack, family pack and a Dream Team pack.
For more information, you can get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org.