In early April, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, revealed that wearing non-medical masks while out in public is “an additional measure” Canadians can take to protect others against the spread of COVID-19.
When travelling, Canadians are also now required to wear non-medical masks or face coverings on flights. Vancouver-based eco-conscious brands Arraei Collective and Bohème Goods recognized the demand for masks and wanted to donate some to those in need.
“We didn’t have the capital to donate a large quantity [of masks] on our own, and so we launched the buy-one-give-one program with the hope that we would get more traction and be able to have our customers enjoy the gift of giving,” says Natalie Florence Hellyar, owner of Arraei Collective.
Hellyar and Sarah Shabacon of Bohème Goods have designed sustainable face masks using natural fabrics from their collections, as well as certified fabrics from reputable suppliers.
“Initially, for the first 600 masks, we used our deadstock fabrics that were essentially fabric waste from previous productions,” Hellyar tells Daily Hive. “After we ran out of this, we had to purchase some fabric to keep up with orders.”
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The masks are made in Vancouver and fabrics used are all a blend of either hemp, organic cotton, and lyocell, with 3% spandex which allows for easy fitting with elasticated, adjustable ties. They are currently available in black, mineral blue, rose brown, natural, and green-gold colours, with sizes for adults, kids, and toddlers.
Selling the masks at cost ($12 each) with their buy-one-give-one donation program has allowed Hellyar and Shabacon to donate over 1,200 masks to various local institutions in need to-date. This includes the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre, local care homes, and the Vancouver Police Department.
“We are always finding new ways that we can give back to our community as this is an integral part of both of our brand philosophies,” adds Hellyar. “Both Sarah and I are so proud and humbled by the success of the whole initiative — to be able to give back during this strange time feels so good.”
Hellyar explains that she started Arraei because she “felt a deep desire to alter the fate of our planet, to change the direction we were heading in terms of sustainability, and to be an activist for social justice.”
The designer says she hopes her brand inspires women to embody womanhood and exude self-confidence through raw self-expression.