Over 1000 customers
How crazy life is. At the beginning of March, we were still wondering whether we would be able to pay the rent by the end of the month and whether we would have enough work for our team. The sales (of our bag collection) dropped drastically, from few to no customers on some days.
Orders and workshops were cancelled while the fixed expenses continued. 'The dark clouds seemed to gather', just like for many other entrepreneurs. It was quite a blow, and the consequences must have been felt by you too.
Of course, we were worried about our income, but also about our team. With several sleepless nights as a result. Because Fraenck is more than just a brand that makes beautiful bags. We work together with a beautiful but vulnerable team that relies on us.
'Taking advantage of something' is an easy way to put things on edge. We quickly think of people like Martin Shkreli (the man who made an AIDS drug 50 times more expensive). However, our mouthguards are, we think, not too expensive. If demand continues, we can keep our business going. It will not make us rich. And that has never been the goal of our Social Enterprise. We also started with a 50% discount for people with a crucial profession, until we could no longer keep up with demand. This has now become 30% and we can still barely keep up.
The reactions were not exactly encouraging at first, but that did not stop our mission. We even received private messages from friends: "What are you doing - this doesn't make any sense at all, does it?"
Research en conclusions
By doing thorough research, reading many studies, we were soon able to draw some conclusions:
Besides the material, the fit is also very important. A mouth mask must fit your face well, otherwise you will breathe through the chinks. And you're still nowhere. The idea of a mouth mask is that you breathe through the fabric and any extra filter.
That's why we thought about the 'nose strip' that we put in our mask. This is not just a piece of wire or steel. It is a sturdy strip of stainless steel that you can bend around your nose extremely well and, moreover, can bend it many times without it breaking. This strip ensures that the connection with your face is even better, that you breathe better through the cap and that any glasses fog up less quickly.
- We soon suspected that cotton was the most suitable raw material and fortunately many studies confirmed this. Cotton has many advantages; it is a natural raw material and can therefore be washed at high temperatures. We used to make them from other materials as well, but cotton turned out to be the best choice (which has now also been confirmed by the cabinet).
- Besides the material, the fit is also very important. A mouth mask must fit your face well, otherwise you will breathe through the chinks. And you're still nowhere. The idea of a mouth mask is that you breathe through the fabric and any extra filter.
- That's why we thought about the 'nose strip' that we put in our mask. This is not just a piece of wire or steel. It is a sturdy strip of stainless steel that you can bend around your nose extremely well and, moreover, can bend it many times without it breaking. This strip ensures that the connection with your face is even better, that you breathe better through the cap and that any glasses fog up less quickly.
A good manual is key. As the RIVM has often pointed out: if you do not use a mouth mask properly, it is counterproductive and leads, at the very least, to false security. For this reason, we have written an extensive manual from the beginning. We are constantly updating it as new insights are gained or if we think we can explain an aspect even better. We would never sell this product without an extensive manual, which is what we see many suppliers doing.
Fit and design
We have continuously improved our fit through customer feedback. From dentists, doctors, psychotherapists, teachers, home carers, sales people to conscious consumers. We are proud to have served all these people! This feedback was very valuable and we have used it to fine-tune the design. The trust of all our customers and positive reviews give us the courage to continue.
From the outset, we deliberately chose not to place a logo on our mouth caps. Because we don't think this is a product for advertising. This is not because we do not support this product, it just does not feel right to use the face masks as a marketing tool. Our main goal is to create a good product that really contributes something. If we can cover our costs with this, we are already happy. We believe more in the power of satisfied customers who refer us.
Not a scientist
We were already following (through research) the RIVM guidelines before they were released. And in fact it is as Thijs de Boer writes for Vrij Nederland:
"Because even if there is no 'conclusive proof' that mouth caps offer one hundred percent safety, you certainly don't need to be a scientist to figure out that even wearing a thick scarf, a tea towel or, if necessary, a piece of cardboard stops at least a portion of the droplets from the breath, and thus already contributes to less spread of the virus."
In the meantime, we have made, sold and shipped more than 1,000 mouth caps. It's quite a job, and the company is creaking. But we believe we are doing the right thing and can contribute, even if only in a small way.
And to be able to keep our team working well. That is worth its weight in gold.
Oh yes, last week we were in the Gelderlander and the AD! Quite an honour. Read the article and watch the video here.
Stay safe! Love from Team Fraenck. Find our facemasks in our shop.