Despite the fact that our storefront/studio has been closed due to COVID-19, as a local and small business, we wanted to do something to help our community and our essential workers who are currently on the front lines.
With an urgent demand for PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) in Canada and The United States, we knew that we had to start producing masks ourselves to donate to health care professionals and other essential workers.
At Ūnika, we practice sustainability and ethical production and we felt that it was important for us to use fabric and materials that were already produced in order to eliminate further waste.
Therefore, we have partnered with adidas Canada who has generously donated hundreds of unworn 100% cotton t-shirts for our mask support project.
We have hand sewn masks from adidas Canada t-shirts and then donated them to local hospitals, senior care facilities, fire halls, and to other health care and essential workers. Not only have the masks been donated locally in Toronto, but they have also been sent to Nova Scotia and Texas in areas that need them.
Our founder, Betsy Campos stated: “Although we normally produce custom swimwear in house, we wanted to use this as an opportunity to do our part while we’re closed and make face masks to support those who are risking their lives for our health and safety”.
Originally, we weren’t sure if workers would accept non medical grade PPE, however, as the outbreak continued to grow, many essential workers were unable to get N95 masks or surgical masks. After consulting with many front line personnel, we developed a mask pattern more comfortable, washable and reusable, and can be worn on top of an N95 mask to prolong the life of an N95.
Our founder Betsy Campos is quoted in a BlogTo article as saying:
“I didn't jump on it right away just because I knew that there would be some protocol as to what was efficient to wear or required to wear in a hospital,” Campos said. But she soon approached frontline healthcare workers to get their expert opinion and perspectives.
Campos asked healthcare workers what was bothering them about the masks they currently wore. One of the things she learned was that healthcare professionals receive one N95 mask per shift, she said.
She consequently decided to create a mask that workers could wear on top of their N95 masks to prolong their efficacy. Campos also took into consideration “the fact that the masks that they were wearing were hurting their ears and their head because there's so much elastic,” she said.
“I made my own pattern that ties, instead of the elastics behind the ears, just to ease the stress and tension off the ears,” Campos said.
Many of our clients and customers have reached out and asked to purchase masks for themselves, however, we are not selling them since they are all to be donated to those who need them and we do not feel right about profiting off of something that is desperately needed. Betsy Campos elaborated on this during a Fashion Magazine interview saying:
“I strongly believe that companies with production lines should be using their facilities to give back to those sacrificing their health and safety for all of us. As consumerism is declining with the uncertainty of what the future holds, along with employment, it’s so important to be a leader during these unpredicted times,” she says. “It’s an opportunity for us to thank those in need and give back to the community that always supports us.”
As a result of this mask making project, we have been featured in Complex Canada, blogTo, Fashion Magazine, Style Democracy, and e-Talk Canada. We want to thank adidas Canada, and everyone who has been involved and who supported this project by spreading the word that we can all do something to help each other out in any way that we can during this crisis. No one achieves anything alone and we’re honored to provide our health care heroes support during these unprecedented times.