The entire global economy is in flux because of COVID-19. The virus has sent a cataclysmic jolt through every facet of our lives and the uncertainty of when normalcy will return looms overhead. But one thing remains absolutely certain: we’re all in this together.
Community support is thriving in this time of change. While many people are pressing pause on their normal lives, businesses are doing likewise. In the absence of regularity, businesses are shifting gears to offer support in this confusing time.
It is in this spirit that retailers and brands are stepping up. There are increased calls to repurpose resources and factories to help outfit healthcare providers with what they need to fight the virus. Some brands are donating non-healthcare products to frontline workers as a show of support and care. Others are giving shoutouts to small businesses in their communities, reminding us of what might lose during this shutdown.
Here, we round-up some retailers who are dedicating their money, time, or resources to frontline and healthcare workers fighting COVID-19 and helping us maintain better social distance. This list will be updated regularly.
Brands making or procuring medical supplies
Knix’s founder and CEO Joanna Griffiths heard from her brother, a doctor in Ontario, Canada, that his hospital was running low on personal protective equipment for its staff. Griffiths’ company launched a GoFundMe campaign to purchase PPEs to frontline healthcare workers. The brand raised over $80,000—surpassing their $50,000 goal—to donate 100,000 units to 50 hospitals in need.
Sustainable shoe brand Rothy’s decided to turn the factories they own into innovation hubs, adapting to our new normal and to demand by other industries. In three days, according to the brand’s Instagram post, they were able to make a protective suit.
The brand is calling on their community and customers to brainstorm other ideas that their factories can potentially realize. Rothy’s started The Open Innovation Coalition to partner with other brands for “open-source sharing [of] knowledge with fellow manufacturers who are interested in producing similar items.”
The brand is currently working to source 100,000 non-medical masks for donation.
Swiss winery Delea is now making hand sanitizers available for consumer purchase, as well as donating 50L to hospitals in the country.
The tech accessory brand has shifted its priorities to medical workers. “Nomad has reprioritized our operations,” said the brand, “to provide medical supplies, like face masks, to those fighting this pandemic.”
The brand has directed its factories in Asia and North America, as well as its warehouse in Hong Kong, to quickly and efficiently get these resources to the hardest hit areas affected by the virus. To date, they have shipped three million masks and are producing 500 thousand a day.
The San Francisco fashion brand is repurposing its factories to create medical masks for hospitals. American Giant’s target goal is to make 35,000 masks per week. The brand has also formed a coalition with other brands, including Hanes, to produce 1 million masks per week.
A note on their website explains that they have “worked to retool our North Carolina facilities and retrain our team of remarkable seamstresses... We are making HHS-certified medical masks and distributing them to the front line medical personnel that are confronting this crisis”
In response to the COVID-19 crisis, FIGS created a dedicated application system and task force aimed specifically at helping healthcare workers on the front lines of the pandemic. FIGS has committed to donating 30,000 sets of scrubs to hospitals by the end of May.
The year-old sustainable brand Pangaia swiftly transformed parts of their factories to produce personal protective equipment for frontline workers like doctors, nurses, and medical staff.
Australian luxury fashion brand Scanlan Theodore has repurposed its factories in Fiji to provide medical gowns for frontline workers. In a statement to a local newspaper, the brand said, “As a company, we would like to express our gratitude to our dedicated design and production teams who have exhibited strength, unity and efficiency in a collective cause to support this effort.”
The brand also paused North American inventory and redirected efforts to help those in need in New York with a goal to keep reaching out globally to areas affected most by the virus.
Online Canadian mattress brand Endy is donating some of its products to frontline workers in Vancouver. The reality for most healthcare workers is one that includes long shifts and sleeping on thin cots in hallways. Endy partnered with St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver to send pillows, mattresses and mattress protectors to frontline healthcare workers so that, while they are working and protecting their communities, they can take care of themselves too.
Sporting goods brand Decathlon helped fight COVID-19 by turning its scuba gear into ventilators. Decathlon sent these “hacked” ventilators to hospitals in Northern Italy. They 3D printed enhanced components of their existing scuba gear to make functioning ventilators hospitals could use.
Brands donating products to healthcare workers
New Zealand-American sustainable shoe brand put out a call to healthcare workers who need a pair of runners while they are fighting COVID-19. Allbirds has also made a point to communicate to their buyers how important it is to preserve and save small businesses during this time.
Beauty and skincare brand Josie Maran Cosmetics, founded by former model and actress Josie Maran, has donated 25,000 units of their body butter to first responders and healthcare workers on the frontlines fighting COVID-19.
Brands supporting the community
At the beginning of April, Kotn co-founder Benjamin Sehl tweeted out to his followers that he wanted the brand to start making masks out of 100% cotton material. Sehl aimed to create and supply 150,000 masks. Fast forward only a week-and-change later, and the brand announced a partnership with Toronto luxury retailer Holt Renfrew. Kotn will upcycle materials from past collections and, while working at home, alterationists from Holt Renfrew will make 1,000 to 2,000 masks per week. They aren’t medical grade but are meant to be additional protective measures for members of our communities.
Peace CollectiveFashion brand Peace Collective identified that local food banks have been hit hard by the pandemic as food demand increases and volunteer hours decline due to self-isolation. For every garment sold from the brand’s Home Is collection, three meals will now be provided to one of the seven partnering food banks across Canada.
South African fashion brand Planet54 completely shifted their commerce model away from garments to sell groceries instead. The brand saw an opportunity to provide essentials to consumers in a market that is now showing inflated pricing and a lack of inventory.
“Our business model and company structure is completely vertical. This allows us to action critical business decisions in a relatively quick space,” Planet54 said in a statement to Shopify Plus. “When we saw the market shifting worldwide, we looked at how we could repurpose the business for our consumers. We forecasted [a] higher need for these product categories and we also saw this as a service to our customers. We launched the Planet54 SOS Campaign and repurposed our complete business focus onto essential goods in under a week.”
Additionally, Planet54 launched emergency food pop-up shops around the country and plan on donating proceeds to charities.
P & CO.
It is quite likely that, while isolating or quarantining, consumers may have felt bored or understimulated. Fashion brand P & CO. decided to help by providing some creative stimulation with the Self-Isolation Coloring Book. In collaboration with many artists and friends, users can download the files digitally and either color them on a device or print them out and color them the old-fashioned way.
Boll & Branch
Boll & Branch, the design and home goods brand, started donating mattresses and pillows to field hospitals in New York City. As the need for these products fell due to the flattening curve, Boll & Branch extended its efforts into Pennsylvania, donating hospital-grade mattresses to homeless shelters for veterans.
The American wedding ring maker is giving back to the medical community. Groove Life introduced four rings as part of its medical hero collection. As of mid-May, Groove Life collected $30,000 of proceeds from ring sales to First Responders First.
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