We are a small team of artists and makers working from our studios in Melbourne and Geelong, Australia.
You can find us on Timeout, or read some recent interviews via It's Good Business and think.(enough), who are each having a wonderfully positive impact towards a sustainable community and environment.
Our core focus is dually on community wellbeing and environmental sustainability. We use our creative and compassionate skills to create thoughtful products and clothing with conscience. This in turn allows us to support charities that have a positive social and environmental impact.
We care about our community and want to use our skills to help slow the spread of Covid-19, so we are stitching up masks just as quickly as we can. After that demand decreases, our goal is to combine our individual skills in sustainable fashion, textiles, design, art and photography to continue making sustainable garments and ethical products within our thriving creative community in Melbourne.
For now though, all of our efforts are currently directed at producing DHHS compliant reusable cloth face masks for our customers nation-wide. If you have a request for a specially tailored face mask, please get in touch with us via firstname.lastname@example.org - Thank you for your support.
Why does Mask Planet exist?
Our Founder & Creative Director, Jess, was recently asked about Mask Planet’s “reason for being”. She noted three main reasons for founding the business, and we thought it might be nice to share those with our customers here:
- Social impact
"It initially seemed people were going to use disposable masks in most cases. At least one a day. Times 30 days per month. Times how many million people? In my mind, the mathematical impact of this new daily single-use item extrapolated to a horrifying amount of waste, and instantly I felt overwhelmingly sad.
At that time, I also had multiple friends on the front-line in multiple countries, and I wanted to contribute in some way. The general feeling of helplessness was lame of-course and the old "but I'm just an artist" lament started to creep in. Straight away I realised how outraged I'd be if I'd heard any of my creative friends say something self-deprecating like that, so I decided that positive action was the only way forward. What could I do in practical terms?
Myself and my partner had already been wearing masks voluntarily for some months, but the thing that I kept over-hearing people say in those early days when masks were still optional in Melbourne, was 'I won’t wear a mask because they're ugly and gross'. So I thought, that’s a barrier I can fix. I can make them stylish and comfortable. And people will feel their personality and expression is still there.
As humans we have a need to express our individuality. And as artists, this is especially essential to our very being (and our sanity!). If we don’t express ourselves, it gets all stored up and can become explosive.
So I started thinking about alternatives. My Mum has always been an amazing seamstress, and she taught me to sew clothes when I was little. I thought, we can make masks that are sturdy yet soft, fun but practical; and if people want to wear them, surely that will mean they're more likely to wear them. More likely to wear = less likely to spread virus = less people dying. And that was more than enough reasons!
I ordered our first batch of fabrics immediately from local suppliers and reached out to friends, family, other artists and makers who I knew could sew or had been seamstresses or had photography skills or could make local deliveries. Everything we’d need was within digital reach. I soon realised everyone who was keen to help was also in the risk group and it spurred me on even more.
We made prototypes, tested elastic loop materials, adjusted patterns and templates, ordered supplies as locally as possible - all from within Aus of course, and all from businesses I believed I could trust to have safe practices amid a pandemic! Most of those were between 15mins-1hr away from my studio via courier, so I consciously kept the footprint low.
Then, I leant on existing skills in digital strategy to design and code our website, set up social marketing materials, and start making. Our process expanded as orders came in, but I had everyone lined up and we scaled with demand. I knew flexibility would be key.
Our Melbourne studio already runs on wind farm energy via our energy provider (Powershop) and the printer is an environmentally friendly one. We got compostable corn-starch packaging and recycled paper for packing slips to be printed on. So with every decision, I kept sustainability in mind.
When the postal issues were communicated back to us from some customers, I researched alternatives and made the decision to switch all of our deliveries to 100% carbon neutral courier services (Sendle). Happy customers, but also - happy planet!"
2. Social impact.
"This has always been important to me. I’ve worked for a number of businesses over the years that I believed could have been doing much better in this area. So this was a chance to do something good.
Our ethos is not profit-driven, but rather about giving and making a positive difference in the community. The challenge was finding a way to do that even in Stage 4 lock-down.
Initially, I thought about the charities that meant the most to me, and also which groups would be hard-hit right now. So far we’ve supported Beyond Blue, Asylum Seekers Resource Centre, Bridging the Gap Foundation, The Surfrider Foundation, and the RSPCA.
For the next two months we’re supporting Arts Access Australia, The Black Dog Institute, SEED, Tangaroa Blue and PTSD Dogs Australia. They all do amazing things and we’re super chuffed to be able to make a contribution to their efforts.
In November and the lead-up to Christmas, we'll be focussing on getting as many BackPack Beds to homeless people as we possibly can. We have opened up nominations to our customers as well so they can tag a charity they care about on instagram that they want us to direct funds to next.
We say “at least 20% of our profits always go to charity” because more often than not, it’s more than that. But 20% is our base-line. We're trying to do everything we can to use our skills for positive social impact, simply because this is important to us."
"This means safety for our community and our team. I’ve been a firm advocate for remote working for the better part of 15 years, so I was confidently prepared to run a business remotely between satellite studios on zero days notice.
This was important because in our small team of artists and makers, all but our delivery driver are in the risk group for one reason or another. So I focussed on how we could all stay in, stay purposeful and stay connected, for as long as necessary. This resulted in a sustainable 'pop-up' style business that has enabled us to use our skillsets to help people, and contribute to a safer community.
Ensuring that the positives outweigh the negatives has been really important to our small team's mental health, creative reserves, and progressive evolution throughout this whole thing. We will keep making until our last customer orders their last mask."