Often, it is the little things that cement a relationship.

And it can be as small as the face masks that have become ubiquitous.

Michelle Curry, a financial advisor with Equitable Advisors in Woodland Hills, Calif., who specializes in retirement planning, started having masks made for her clients and their family members. Something that began as a gesture of kindness has turned into a good marketing tool.

“I saw on Facebook that someone was making masks for nurses so that their medical masks lasted longer and I have nurse clients, so it seemed like a great idea,” Curry said. “I asked my cousin, Christina Navarro, who had just taught herself to sew, to make a few for my older female clients and the favorable response was immediate.”

Curry said a pattern was easy to find on the internet. She purchased the material and supplies and paid her cousin, who had recently become unemployed, to make more than 130 reversible masks to date in a variety of colors and patterns. Los Angeles, like many areas in the United States, began requiring that masks be worn in public, making the homemade ones even more in demand.

“I wanted to be able to help my clients,” Curry said. “This recession is a lot different from 2008-2009 because clients are worried about their health as well as their money. This seemed like a great project.”

In addition to clients and their families, co-workers are now looking to Curry for masks. She explained that this was one of the ways she is trying to strike a different note in a male-dominated profession.

“We need to stand out from robo-advisors and add the human element,” Curry said. “I’m also using this time to try to set the foundation for moving forward as we come out of this crisis. We’re learning a new way to do business with more virtual meetings and reaching out in new ways.

“Never in a million years did I think I’d be sending out face masks to clients, but life is full of surprises," she continued. "I can’t tell you what thoughtful responses I received from sending them out and how fulfilling it is for me.” 

Curry said the project has helped her connect with clients on a more human level and build deeper and more meaningful relationships with them. She wants clients to know that she is supporting them for more than just their financial needs.

“The masks provide clients some peace of mind, and one less thing to try to find during all the craziness," she said. "It also inadvertently turned into a great marketing idea as I started to get requests for more masks from their family members and referrals to people intrigued by the financial advisor who’s sending out masks. I love helping my clients grow and protect their wealth, but this was something far greater.”