Ed. Note: as we said in a thank you email that went out yesterday, "that happened fast." In response to our Rock the Mask project, conceived of last week and executed with a skeleton crew of stitchers and shippers, you came through big time, surprising us with a sell-out run in the first 24 hours. We're hard at work sewing our second run of masks, which you can pre-order here. Remember that for every five-pack you order, we DONATE a five pack to a person or organization in need.

Sometime early last week, maybe in response to a team member's creativity (see below), we jumped into the idea of making masks as a way to A) help stop the spread of COVID-19, B) put some of our employees back to work in a limited and safe capacity, C) help out as best we can the populations that are in need of help they can't afford, and D) inject a little style and fun into a world that sorely needs it right now. On one of our shortest product design timelines ever, we were ready to sell masks by the end of the week. Unsure of the response, we made the product live and...well, you did the rest. We sold out in hours, donating thousands of masks, matching the sales we made one-for-one. We're now working as quickly as possible to generate our next run of masks, which you can pre-order now. We checked in, too, with members of our community, to ask them how they are doing and how the masks will ease their burdens at a moment everyone is feeling acutely.

Elite Team Member Jerry Bartolome, with the original mask?

The factory jumped back to life, quickly making some prototypes and then using fabric on hand to make a run of masks. One of our stitchers, below, starts in on a mask made from our Street Punk fabric. The masks are stitched with the same attention to detail we put into every piece of clothing at the factory, with high-performing fabrics. We didn't have time to test them, but we'd guess that these masks are going to wick moisture quickly, and save the spectacle-wearing population from foggy lenses, an affliction we didn't know about last week and now know all too much about.

One of our stitchers, assembling a mask

One of the first mask prototypes, early last week

Once we had designs and a small run in stock, we opened up sales, coupling the offer with a commitment to donate an equal number of masks to those who can't afford masks of their own. As we go to press, after the first run, over five-thousand masks will be donated to people and organizations in need.

"It's been a shitty few weeks, to say the least," sums up John Dambrauskas, executive director of an assisted living facility in Orlando, Florida, when I ask him how he's been getting along through the COVID-19 crisis. Dambrauskas works on the front lines of the battle right now, trying to shepherd the most-at-risk population through a terrifying moment in our history. He ordered more than sixty masks for his employees, generating an equal number of donated masks. "When I learned my team was taking the time and using their resources to create masks to help the public as well as health care professionals, I knew I needed to support their efforts. Wattie Ink. has had my back for years, and I jumped at the chance to share that support with the associates and managers at our assisted living facility. With a national shortage of personal protective gear, Wattie Ink. has afforded me the opportunity to reduce the risk of spreading the virus to our senior population in Orlando, and any reduction in risk is one I’m going to pursue. I can’t wait to see my staff get a chance to provide care to our residents with some Wattie Ink. attitude." 

We also checked in with our team members, seeing how they are doing, and how the masks may make their lives a little easier in a tough time.

"I am in Illinois," says Hit Squad teammate Nicholas W. "My city has only seen three positive tests (of the limited number of people tested) to date, although that number is projected to increase. This mask is another barrier to keep me and my loved ones protected while venturing out for only the necessary trips to the doctor, grocery store, etc. where we will interact with others outside of our social [distancing] circle. Generally speaking, I’ve been the only one to leave the house since the shelter in place order was given. I am on duty and away for 24 hours every third day, serving as a firefighter / paramedic. When I'm not working, I also intend to wear these masks while riding or running, getting a break from my work, which has become even more real than it normally is."

"I’m a healthcare provider and still working full time in a hospital setting here in Ohio," says another Hit Squadder, Andi L. "'The surge' is really just beginning in my rural area. At work I’m well-covered with standard issue masks and PPE, but masks are recommended for everyone in Ohio now and I didn’t have one outside of work. My sweet Wattie ones will give me an extra boost when venturing out on necessary errands. Aside from my bike and trainer at home, I’m fortunate enough to have access to weights and a treadmill in my clinic so that’s helping with my sanity and staying fit."

"We are hanging in there in Colorado Springs," says John S., a surgeon and Hit Squad member. "I have to hand it to my wife for staying home with our five month old and 2.5 year old! I'm an orthopedic surgeon and we are required to wear masks for all direct patient care. Outside of work I wear a mask anytime I am in public. This is mainly to protect others as I have a bit of exposure and do spend some time in the ICU. Luckily my hospital system has done a good job providing adequate PPE for all staff. We are now required to perform all of our surgeries with N95 masks—that is not fun. You think training at altitude is like breathing out of a straw, that is nothing compared to operating with an N95! I applaud Wattie Ink. for making these masks on short notice. This is a great way to stay protected in public and continue to rock the W! Stay safe everyone."

"I live in Manhattan, New York in the Hudson Yards, smack bang between the Jacob Javitz Center overflow hospital and the USNS Comfort, so somewhat in the COVID-19 epicenter," says Lucy B., from the Wattie Ink. Elite Team. "I'm Getting on as fine as is possible here with my hubby and our little pup. I work in capital markets at a large investment bank so extremely thankful to still have a job, and busier than ever working on distressed sector recaps. All of the grocery stores and pharmacies around me now require you to be wearing a mask to enter so looking forward to the mask pack arriving to make wearing a mask both more practical (the whole buff + hair elastic thing isn't so great) and to bring a bit of a smile to my face when I put it on, knowing I'm supporting one of my fav brands and gifting an equal number of masks to others in need."

So keep it up! Thank you for what you have accomplished so far, and if you haven't ordered your masks yet, you can get in on the next run here.