The Kindness Factory is a local business that launched through the COVID-19 pandemic to create high-quality face masks to the Vancouver Island Community.
What do you do when you’re laid off in the middle of a pandemic?
You learn to sew masks, of course!
That’s the story of The Kindness Factory, a local small business that makes and sells handmade face masks and related accessories.
“Back in March, I was in a really dark place,” CEO Karmen McNamara tells us. “I was laid off; my mom had just passed away; I was having a tough time finding any kind of motivation or meaning.”
McNamara taught herself to sew on an old, borrowed, 1950s Singer sewing machine. Before she knew it, she couldn’t keep up with requests for masks.
“I had gotten to know a bunch of folks in the community who were sewing masks, but most of them didn’t have the desire or the skills to find customers. So I thought if I could create a way to get these high-quality handmade masks from makers to customers that everyone would benefit.
“My background is in non-profit leadership. And it seemed to me that I could give more back to the community by creating jobs for people, then by just continuing to sew myself. I’m still a beginner,” she laughs. “I can make a mask, but it’s not going to be anything like one that’s been sewn by someone who has been doing this for 30 years.
The Kindness Factory now has 17 employees and contractors. Sewists work from home, and mask kits are picked up and delivered each week via bike courier. The Kindness Factory opened a workshop and contact-free pickup for customers at 1038 Hillside Ave September 1. They also offer delivery and have started shipping around the world.
“I’m so grateful for the support and all of the positive messages from the public and from our customers, thanking us for providing masks that are reusable and fun to wear. I feel privileged to be able to contribute to the community during such a dark time.”
“I try to have fun with it, and find fabrics that bring people joy. We even offer a ‘Be Kind’ mask inspired by Dr. Bonnie Henry. Our masks have three layers to comply with current guidelines, a nose wire to prevent glasses from fogging, and we offer ear savers to help folks who wear hearing aids.”
“I believe we each need to do what we can to help each other right now.”
Each week the Kindness Factory also donates 15-20 masks to Red Cedar, who provide meals to those in need in Victoria.
To see over 100 masks that The Kindness Factory has available, please visit https://thekindnessfactory.com .