You're been wearing a mask, right?
So have we.
It's funny how the story arc with masks has gone since Spring 2020.
March 2020: "Wait, do we need to wear masks all the time? Every time we go outside?"
April 2020: "What fabric is best? Where can I get face masks?! CVS IS SOLD OUT. SHIT!"
By late Spring, every company who was able to started pivoting to make masks (we did too), because they were getting really hard to find.
It was something we hesitated to do at first (are we taking advantage of a pandemic?!), but truly, on more than one occasion, CVS and Walgreens were out of them. And the disposable ones get gross after a few wears. I got to the point where I was wearing t-shirts awkwardly tied around my face because I couldn't get my hands on a mask.
Pre-covid, I would have looked like a bank robber or a crazy person.
So as a company, we realized it was something we should do because we could do it. I remember seeing social media posts from friends à la toilet paper crisis: "Does anyone know where I can buy a mask? Is anyone locally making them!?"
People needed masks. We had a manufacturer standing by. And we could pay it forward by donating one mask per mask purchased to feel better about selling amidst a pandemic. So I worked on designs, and then we made our first run.
The accessory of the year is not what we expected it to be, but I've learned as an entrepreneur you have to be able to pivot fast, and not sit in sadness, to survive.
It turns out making masks has not only impacted our local community, but also impacted our business and allowed us to survive last year.
As we're on the other side (mostly) of "WHAT ARE WE GONNA DO!?" I wanted to take a second to answer, "where are your masks made?"
The mask colors/designs were made by me with help from graphic designer Eric Dowdy. The body of the mask is 100% RPET. RPET stands for recycled polyethylene terephthalate, or recycled PET. PET is a strong, durable and recyclable material that is used for soda bottles, water bottles and food jars, while RPET can be made into such products as blankets, insulation, car parts, shoes and more.
While our original intention was to use organic cotton, it just wasn't available where we manufacture (Colombia) at the time, and we've actually come to love this material for this piece. Smooth, lightweight, and more breathable than most other masks that we've tried.
Based in Manizales, Colombia, Unionmade is owned by hip husband and wife team Felipe Molina and Clara Gómeza. Together, they have 30+ years of experience working with brands from all over the world. Their team deep carries deep knowledge and passion for design, branding, development, sourcing, manufacturing and logistics. Unionmade is a full-service branding and manufacturing outlet with their own 20,000 square foot private manufacturing facility, Raw.
We've been so happy with the speed and quality of their work in addition to the transparency in their process. We only work with ethical factories, so we have been delighted to know their workers all earn healthy wages, and work in clean, safe, happy environments! There is no child labor. Their facilities are beautiful and state-of-the-art.
You can see some stats about their 20,000 square foot, ethical factory, RAW, below.