Unmasking New Opportunities Amidst Crisis

I know we are inundated with news/conversations/dread about coronavirus. However, I wanted to build off Travis’ great blog post and discussion last week on how businesses are adapting to this pandemic.  Over the last week, there has been a monumental shift in the rhetoric of the CDC.  For weeks we have been told that there is no need to wear masks in public and that social distancing would be enough to safely go about our business.  Now, however, a recommendation for wearing cloth masks is prominent on the front page of the CDC website.  As it is now official policy that masks should be worn by all citizens rather than just medical workers, it is interesting to see how the world is reacting.

Established Companies:

Some companies have shifted their production to face equipment.  Bauer, the hockey equipment manufacturer, has started to make medical shields from hockey masks.  Brooks Brother is looking to make 150,00 masks a day. Carhartt is making 50,000 gowns and 2.5 million masks.  MyPillow is focusing 75% of their production efforts to making masks and hopes to make 50,000 masks a day.  For more companies, see link 1.  New Balance is also getting in the mix with what seems to be the most creative route, using laces and other trademark footwear materials to make masks for hospital workers (some cool pictures of the masks in link 2).

Small Businesses:

Established, wealthy brands are not the only ones taking up the production/sale of masks. However, unlike the bigger brands doing it, many small businesses have had to change their course in order to survive as they face smaller demand or are deemed non-essential.  For example, iPromo, a Chicago business that makes and sells SWAG saw their sales dry up with conferences being cancelled.  The CEO used business relationships in China to get suppliers for medical supplies including masks and no sells those supplies for the time being.  A small non-profit here in South Bend (!!) called Sew Loved which “teaches sewing and vocational skills to underseved women and at-risk teens” is “working to produce thousands of washable dace masks through its network of home-based sewers.”  For other really cool stories such as these two, see link 3.


On the CDC’s website they instruct people on how to make a cloth mask at home.  Home production of masks has been a new business for some people.  One person has taken to Etsy to sell her masks, pivoting from just selling fabric to making the mask herself and selling the completed product.  The article that talks about this person also goes on to give steps as to how an entrepreneur can save their business during this crisis, see link 4.  Project Open Source was established the CEO of Inside Weather, a couch company, and this Project is aimed at making available information on DIY masks, see link 5.


While everyone is struggling during this pandemic, it is always important to keep things in perspective.  I thought this article on race relations/mask wearing was a good read.

Finally, for some levity.

I hope everyone is staying safe, healthy, and sane.


Links referenced in blog:






Supplemental Links:

(I think if you click the picture it should bring you to a NY Times article)



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