Like many Darien businesses, Elena Niejelow, of Sokayri Atelier and Boutique, was grateful to reopen this week.

Sokayri is a custom clothing store, and social distancing caused Niejelow’s business to go from slow in February to a complete stop in March.

“We are now two and a half months behind in rent payments into June,” she said. But her mask efforts are now helping the store financially.

Niejelow turned the skills for dressmaking into making masks and was initially donating them— including some with the embroidered “I am smiling.”

She pointed out that these days, when everyone is wearing a mask, you can’t see other people’s smiles. This was her way of “being positive.”

The masks range in price from 16.99 and up to 24.99 for the embroidered masks.

With weddings and proms and other formal events being canceld, seeling the masks is Sokayri’s “survival tool.” Without them, she said, the stores fate would have been uncertain.

Despite that, Niejelow reaffirms she is smiling, like her mask says.

“I remain optimistic,” she said. The store opened with a lavish outdoor display announcing that masks were for sale. Sokayri is at 1084 Post Road. To see more on the masks, you can visit

Masks are also being sold at Darien Sport Shop, Nielsen’s, The Dock Shop, Wiggles & Giggles, Helen Ainson, Browne & Co., J. McLaughlin, Grieb’s, and Everything is Rosey.

If your business is making masks and you want us to share the info, send photos/prices to