2 years ago, we started making masks at home for our 3 year old son and mom, who are both asthmatic, and highly sensitive to dust and pollen. At that point in time, it was a product not made or sold anywhere in Australia.
Sadly, we were often stared down for wearing masks during the fire season. But without it, we had really bad episodes of asthma attacks. We could not stay outdoors for more than 10 minutes. Even in our backyard!
But, after seeing us wearing masks, seniors at Woolies started asking where we bought the masks from!
So we made a bunch and handed it out to them and to our local fire department. We made a bunch more and donated them to an aged care facility. As well as to whoever wanted them at that point. And before we knew it, we had so many requests throughout spring time. And it kept growing during the last bushfire season - we could not cope.
The price of our masks then was between $65 -$79 - to pay for materials and for a tailor who helped us. The orders got out of hand very quickly. And then our tailor got sick and we were left with so many customers wanting more. We reached out to many tailors and local makers, but the wait times were weeks long. We were even quoted $95 for a mask (not including designs and materials) - we could make this for much lower!
This was not a sustainable solution!
Finally, we ended up speaking to an offshore supplier who was already making the carbon fibre sheets for us. They organised a small factory and we did on-site audits to ensure they met our ethical and compliance standards. This costs us a whooping $8k (it's an yearly cost!). Despite this, we managed to bring the retail price down to $30-$42. Now we can make our masks more affordable to families!
The reason why we are sharing the above is because we want you to know and understand why we choose to outsource production...
We source the materials from Bali and manufacture in an ethical factory in China. Our masks are of the highest quality - we simply can't have it any other way. And you can see from all the reviews left by our customers!
Our Australian staff - 3 of us on a usual permanent basis, and two very lovely girls who were laid off due to COVID, have joined our team to cater for the influx of orders. We work with Aussie service providers, warehouse space and pay donations and taxes within Australia.
Outsourcing our production was a necessity for us. The orders are so many at this point even our local tailors will not have coped with this.
All our products have minimal contact during the entire process - the masks are laser cut and sewn by automatic machinery, the filters are directly packed from machines to packs. The only time there is contact is when the packets are being counted and packed into boxes for shipping to us, and these are done with proper PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) wear. We have been very particular about this and switched from manual production to automated machinery last December.
We are continuously looking for a local facilty that can help us bring the production back onshore. If you are reading this and know of someone who can meet our quality standards, be open to get their factory audited and apply for all licenses to be able to work with us - please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
** Please note, this only applies to face masks, our other products are made by various artists, tailors and woodworkers by hand. **