As provinces slowly lift coronavirus safety lockdowns, two young Ontario entrepreneurs have found a way to fill a growing need for non-medical face masks, while adding in a bit of style.
Western University student Matthew Danics and Josh Sofer, a Queens University student, are the founders of Canadian Face Masks. The company is 100 per cent Canadian-made and was created with the goal of helping stop the spread of coronavirus in the country.
The two say they started the company in March after noticing that many people were not wearing masks despite the rising cases of COVID-19.
They determined there were three key reasons why: accessibility, comfort and cost.
After that, Sofer said they set out to create a product that would help with the shortage of non-medical masks, while also creating something that was conformable to wear and at a lower cost than most on the market.
Sofer said after some research, he realized the cost of masks was from $12 to upwards of $95 for one mask, with wait times of at least a month for the product to arrive.
“Matt and I looked at each other and said ‘there has to be a better way’, so we maximized all three of these criteria — accessibility, affordability, comfort — and looked around and said ‘where can we start this,’” Sofer said.
He said the next step was to partner with a local clothing manufacturer in Toronto to start producing the masks.
Sofer and Danics launched their website just under three weeks ago. They have since sold thousands of masks and are now expanding to sell directly to businesses.
Looking at growth, Sofer said Canadian Face Masks is now working on fulfilling orders in the tens of thousands.
As the province of Ontario starts to reopen, some businesses are requiring or requesting that customers wear face masks before coming into the store.
Whole Foods, Longo’s, and T & T Supermarket have all mandated that customers must wear masks to shop in their stores, while Starbucks also posted a statement requesting the practice.
“Right now in a lot of grocery stores and a lot of places people are wearing paper masks that (a) don’t work (for them) and (b) are very uncomfortable,” Sofer said.
“We are really pushing through in getting masks everywhere that are comfortable, affordable and a great product.”
Sofer says prices for the majority of the masks start at $8.95, with 13 different colour options.
“Before it was typically just the white or black masks people were wearing, but we wanted to spice that up and make it fun and happy and something exciting that people would want to wear,” Danics said.