My father is a diabetic and has kidney disease. He recently received a kidney transplant from my mother, who luckily was a match. Having an underlying condition puts you at a much higher risk of dying from a deadly pathogen. Even donors like my mother, with relatively good health are at an increased risk. Both of my parents live 20 miles away from the epicenter of New York’s outbreak in New Rochelle. Keeping them isolated and safe was paramount. But I live all the way in California. I stayed up tossing and turning each night hoping my parents wouldn’t contract the virus and would do what they could to follow shelter-in-place orders. The small town they lived in didn’t have any grocery delivery options. They’ve needed to brave the journey to the grocery store, putting them at additional risk. What was needed was an additional tool for everyone to use to help further protect people like my parents. How could I help? I searched for ways to make a difference.
Sometimes the pieces just come together. My father-in-law is a world renowned garment technology expert. During the first couple of weeks of the pandemic, we watched him as he quickly facilitated different parts of the supply chain from all over the world to start making supplies for front-line medical personnel. This soon spiraled into facilitating hundreds of thousands of donations. As shortages for supplies became widespread, he started donating CAD software and patterns to all of his manufacturing customers that were pivoting. Even as his business prospects were uncertain and he faced difficult challenges, like all business owners, he put his own needs aside and sent his employees to factories to assist with training and execution. My father-in-law played an instrumental part in getting the necessary supplies to many frontline medical staff. We watched in awe and stepped in to help where we could.
He happened to be working with a supplier of face coveringswho had already been making protective coverings for the face for front-line firefighters in Australia for nearly a year before the Pandemic. After prototyping, manufacturing, and iterating on imperfections, they had perfected their design. When the CDC recommended the general public wear face coverings, we realized we could immediately help scale manufacturing and build distribution. My father-in-law immediately loaned another laser cutter and my husband and I stepped in to build an e-commerce company. We could leverage our strengths to help get these high-quality face masques to the public while employing people right here in the US.