Margo Devlin wasn’t around when Louie Armstrong first recorded “When you’re smiling, the whole world smiles with you.”
But Satchmo’s spirit lives in Margo, a fourth grader at Barclay Elementary in Warrington. Margo has created and produced her own gaiter for Barclay students and staff to both build spirit and raise funds for the school.
Proclaiming “Barclay Smiles” and showing a happy face, the gaiter comes in the school colors of blue, gray and white. The back of the gaiter has Margo’s logo: a peace sign containing her “MD” initials.
Margo has always enjoyed creative design but she took her interest to a new level this August. The combination of disappointment at the back-to-school masks available at traditional retailers mixed with the inability to see people’s smiles under coverings spurred Margo to create her own gaiter. She started designing with a computer app and the project took off from there.
“I wanted Barclay in there because I wanted a Barclay gaiter,” Margo shared. “And I wanted Smiles in there because you can’t see what you’re doing inside your mask but hopefully you’re smiling. I came up with Barclay Smiles because you want people to be happy underneath the mask. It’s Barclay Smiles and good spirits.”
Family friend Ben Yarrington, the vice president of Yarrington Mills, helped to elevate Margo’s project. Margo spent the morning of Aug. 12 at the mill learning about textile production. The mill, no stranger to mask making, suggested producing a gaiter instead. The mill helped her to finalize her design and select the fabric.
“When I was looking at the regular masks, sometimes they pull on your ears,” Margo said. “I tried on the gaiter and liked it better. It’s easy because if you want to take it off, it still stays on you and you won’t lose it.
“I got to meet all of the people who were working on my masks. I liked seeing the machines and meeting all of the people,” Margo continued.
She saw the process of the computer images going into the printing room and then going into the fabric room where designs are embossed.
“First, they gave me different backgrounds,” Margo explained. “There was a background with all smiley faces, a background that was plain gray or plain blue. I liked how there was a gray and blue so I picked that. Then they gave fonts for the next option. I picked a blue with a white outline that was big so people could read it. We picked a white smiley face.”
At the time of production, Central Bucks was slated for in-person instruction, making masks or gaiters a requirement. Despite the district subsequently moving to online learning, Margo believes that the masks can still show community support and camaraderie. Over half of the pre-sale has already sold out.
Margo’s resourcefulness is getting positive attention. Although the idea is independent of the Central Bucks School District, Barclay Principal Joe Brereton has endorsed the initiative and has encouraged Margo to pursue her project. Anonymous donors are helping to make gaiters available for students who may not be able to afford them.
Barclay’s first day is Sept. 8. The project has made Margo even more eager to pursue her own designs. “This could be a start to my merch since we need masks and gaiters,” Margo concluded. “I’m really excited to see how many people will be wearing my gaiter in school.”
to purchase a youth sized gaiter. Adult sizes may be added if there is sufficient demand.