Making Masks at Outcasty
I've been making these masks for two and a half months and finally got one for myself. Around 3pm on April 3 I received a message from Etsy that said: ⠀
Calling all sellers ⠀
Start making face masks⠀
We're experiencing unprecedented demand. You can make a difference.⠀
Late the night before, I received an email from one of my long time manufacturers saying that they were now making masks, so I texted Harry and said, "Maybe we should make masks."⠀
Over the next couple hours I did the design work, he created the Etsy listings, and by 6pm we had sold our first mask. ⠀
The two months that followed were unlike anything I've experienced in almost 20 years of making and selling merch. The demand for masks completely wiped out anyone making masks. Between manufacturers working with skeleton crews and supply chain shortages, plus the pressure of selling something customers were stressed about needing, maintaining my existing business and meanwhile living in the epicenter of all that was most terrifying and unknown at the time sure kept me busy. ⠀
Spring went by in a blur as Harry and I did our best to keep up with all the orders for masks. By the end of April our manufacturer, like everyone else making masks, was completely buried by orders, and we spent much of May fielding messages trying to provide answers to customers when we couldn't get any answers on our end either. Most people were understanding about the situation, but some were very unkind. When communicating with them, I tried to keep in mind that that they probably had a lot going on in their life to be upset about, and if they needed to take some of their frustration out on us, there wasn't much I could do about it except be compassionate. There were some days I really wanted to bake bread instead, but I was grateful for the work and the opportunity to bring some fun to something none of us ever wanted in the first place.⠀
This is small business. This is what we do to survive. We react quickly, we pivot, we do what we can with what we have. I love it.
P.S. We made it over mask mountain, and our Phish masks are available with normal timelines now at Outcasty.com.