Creators of Fashionable PPE Join Forces for Good
In the midst of the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic this spring, entrepreneurs Rebecca Cahua and Vivian Qu joined forces, abilities, and groups to create and produce to manufacturing an revolutionary new product — the O2 Nano Mask, a reuseable nanofiltration masks that mixes a excessive stage of filtration with distinctive breathability and luxury.
Together, Cahua and Qu based a O2 Brands, Inc., and the 2 used their mixed abilities and expertise in textiles and know-how to carry the O2 Nano Mask to Kickstarter in May. The campaign was profitable, and the masks is at the moment in manufacturing.
Before they joined forces, the 2 ladies had been operating their very own profitable firms — Cahua’s DaD Sewing House and Qu’s Viaex Technologies. Their expertise with these firms impressed and continues to tell their imaginative and prescient for O2 Brands.
Vivian Qu (L) and Rebecca Cahua (R)
The E-Commerce Times spoke with Cahua and Qu to listen to their story, be taught concerning the impulse behind their new masks, and get a glimpse into their plans for the longer term.
E-Commerce Times: Could you describe your profession trajectory? How did you get to the place you’re right now?
Cahua: I began within the vogue business, and after I left faculty, my first mission was offering merchandising to nonprofits. That’s after I acquired the thought of designing for a distinction, and in the end creating employment within the Bay Area and sustainable home manufacturing in San Francisco. That’s been my enterprise for the final three years, working with small manufacturers to massive companies.
Vivian met me by means of my enterprise. She got here in proper earlier than the shelter-in-place order occurred right here, and we rapidly determined to collaborate, since we had been each individually engaged on a masks mission. People had been reaching out to me since I had the power to stitch. We each had individuals reaching out to us to determine easy methods to make masks. We thought we might companion collectively and begin O2 Brands Inc. to create merchandise collectively.
Qu: My background is in materials science engineering. We have been very occupied with utilizing biopolymers in new merchandise. Viaex Technologies has been engaged on biopolymer options for anti-microbial functions in water and air.
The primary factor about working along with Rebecca is that we’ve got good synergy, since she has particular textile expertise and is used to sourcing supplies from all around the world. On our finish, we have been trying for good functions for our supplies. We’re in a position to piece that collectively and do one thing higher with it, which has cumulated in our preliminary product.
ECT: Where did the thought for O2 Brands, Inc. come from? What impressed you to begin this firm?
Qu: For us it was clear that we might make premium PPE — not within the medical sense, however one thing everybody might use to guard themselves. We thought that if we wished to do that, as a substitute of doing it in a rushed or oversimplified approach, we might do a greater job by combining our backgrounds in know-how and design to make a greater product. The merchandise obtainable right now will not be all that comfy, and we thought there wanted to be a greater product, and that is why we created it.
Cahua: We wished to supply a product that we might be proud of. We could not do it alone, however once we labored collectively, we had been in a position to make a premium product that would actually defend and assist individuals throughout this time.
Before Covid-19 occurred, we by no means would have accomplished this. We’ve mainly launched an organization and a model in a month, which is wonderful. We belief one another and consider in what we’re doing.
Our purpose is to develop O2 Brands, and that is our newfound ardour. Right now, our focus is to see the place this path takes us. It’s one thing we each wished, to get behind a product we actually wished. It was thrilling for each of us to seek out somebody to work with.
ECT: What is your organization’s mission?
Qu: Our mission is to combine supplies, know-how, and the availability chain to create wonderful merchandise that concentrate on sustainability. Because of these distinctive occasions, we’re doing the Good Mask Project, the place we’re donating masks. That’s been half of our DNA, even earlier than we met. It’s one thing that drives us, and we’re excited to work extra on the social duty facet.
ECT: What makes the masks your organization is producing distinctive?
Qu: It has to do with our design and know-how. Loads of the material masks and bandanas we see aren’t that efficient, however when you have a premium filter inside, the fabric will block rather more.
The effectivity of our masks is round 80 p.c. Our purpose was to create a product that has the match and luxury of an informal masks, with premium filtration materials inside.
What we wish to do for our clients is to maximise their safety. Even although N95 masks are excellent, they’re created for professionals, and so they’re not very comfy to put on for the whole thing of a day. That prevents individuals from doing so. We wished to carry that a lot larger stage of safety to the typical person.
Cahua: What makes our product distinctive is the science that went into creating it. In explicit, the upper filtration stage makes it distinctive. At a time whenever you could not discover filters in the marketplace, for Vivian to have that sort of filter accessible made me leap on this mission instantly.
Anyone could make a fabric masks, however the mixture of the 2 is what takes it to a better stage. We did at the very least fifty samples of the masks, testing for breathability and match. We really feel like we have achieved one of the best ranges of filtration and luxury that we have seen, and the response has been wonderful.
Each masks virtually appears prefer it’s handmade, with the element it has, and you may be heard and seen whilst you converse by means of the masks. We put quite a bit of thought into the masks, and we labored arduous to verify our masks is a premium masks that we are able to actually be proud of.
ECT: Why did you determine to launch the Kickstarter marketing campaign for your masks?
Qu: We discovered that we’ve got a narrative that’s uniquely suited to Kickstarter. The undeniable fact that we had been nonetheless iterating and making this a greater product made it particularly good for Kickstarter. Kickstarter may be very supportive of human-made merchandise which can be in a pre-product part.
We’ve loved speaking with the neighborhood, in addition to having the possibility to enhance the product earlier than we ship it out.
Cahua: Kickstarter was an incredible platform that we each understood can be the easiest way for us to reply on the highest capability to get masks out to the market as rapidly as attainable. We understood there was a necessity for customers and important service employees.
Our Buy One Give One mission, we figured, can be efficient utilizing Kickstarter, since we’re in a position to have interaction the neighborhood by means of that platform.
ECT: How would you describe the response to the Kickstarter marketing campaign? Has it been profitable?
Qu: It’s been profitable in some ways, however a pair which can be particularly significant. It’s significant to work together with the neighborhood and listen to from future customers about what their wants are, and we have heard quite a bit of issues from them. It gave us the braveness to include that instantly, and we continued to enhance the product.
Cahua: The human-to-human interplay was nice, since it is not fairly often that you just get that sort of neighborhood engagement whenever you’re creating a product at this stage.
ECT: How do you see what you are promoting evolving? What’s sooner or later?
Qu: We have a superb imaginative and prescient of the place we wish the following set of masks to be. Broadly, we wish to combine our personal supplies into the following main product. What we imply by that’s utilizing some type of recycled biowaste fibrous supplies. That’s one thing we’re excited to do, and we’ve got a buyer base that cares about the identical issues.
We will nonetheless be targeted on shopper safety and textile merchandise, and we’ll make premium and user-friendly model of these merchandise and incorporate our sustainable supplies into them.
We’re additionally trying ahead to rising the comfort of our merchandise for clients. If you are going to put on one thing anyway, we wish to make this expertise higher. We’re not able to launch these concepts formally, however we all know, for occasion, that individuals like bandanas and scarfs, and people are issues we’re occupied with.
We additionally discovered that lot of masks characterize one thing, virtually like a bit of actual property. We’re occupied with serving to clients make masks extra their very own. We additionally wish to have the same consideration to element earlier than launching our subsequent product, so it is much more sustainable and user-friendly, and we hope that by being profitable with this product we are able to reinvest to make a superb subsequent product.
ECT: In what methods has the coronavirus pandemic modified the world of enterprise and know-how? How can innovators and entrepreneurs most successfully reply to those adjustments and achieve success on this new period?
Qu: For us, it is about having the ability to dig down on our locally-based provide chain. A locally-based provide chain is healthier for the surroundings, as a result of it reduces our carbon footprint.
Now as a result of of the truth that Covid-19 hit the whole globe in phases, the worldwide provide chain has been affected. Loads of our focus has been to make clear the truth that we’ve got a globalized provide chain and never a lot recourse if one thing disrupts that offer chain. That’s one factor we’ll deal with.
As a small firm, we’ll proceed to spend money on our locally-based provide chain to make sure that we’re offering a premium product and can proceed to have the ability to accomplish that.
Cahua: For designers or different entrepreneurs, my recommendation to pivot is to take heed to the patron — take note of society’s wants and bear in mind of any gaps. The provide chain has been disrupted, so there’s someplace what you are promoting.
Qu: Another main level that I’ve considered is how we have been counting on important employees throughout this time. Hopefully sooner or later, the enterprise neighborhood will probably be extra appreciative of these important employees, acknowledging the truth that it’s these individuals who make every part attainable.
We wish to discover methods to assist that neighborhood within the brief time period and proceed to play a job in serving to service employees sooner or later.