Guest blog by Green Business Network member Decent Exposures, Inc.
Background: In 1986, sustainable business Decent Exposures® began manufacturing the Original Un-Bra, designed by women, for women, with your comfort in mind. Since then, we’ve been successfully fitting women of all sizes, from 30AA to 60L, and every size in between. Over the years, we have expanded our product line to include front closure bras, nursing bras, swimwear, every day and activewear clothing, as well as baby items and accessories, all made from the same high-quality fabrics we use to make our bras and underwear.
Social responsibility is important to us. We use recycled materials for packaging whenever possible, limit our use of plastic, and pass on large fabric scraps to be re-purposed or recycled. We buy organic fabric whenever possible, all of which is made in the USA. In 2016 we were one of 10 finalists for Green America’s People and Planet Award for ethical apparel supply chains. All our products are made in our Seattle office, where most of our employees have been with us for over 20 years. They are paid well above minimum wage, with excellent benefits, and are truly valued for the excellent work they do. We have never bought or sold our mailing lists, as we know quality products and customer satisfaction are the best ways to generate business.
Making the Pivot: Before the COVID-19 pandemic, our production crew used disposable face masks to keep them from breathing in fabric dust. When we needed to order more in early March, there was such a limited supply that we decided to design our own reusable/washable, organic cotton, latex-free masks. Within a week, we had created 2 styles: a pleated style, similar to the disposable masks, as well as a more deluxe, fitted version, with extra room around the nose. Guess it's true - necessity IS the mother of invention!
As a small manufacturer in Seattle, WA, we were able to quickly respond to what was needed and now offer for sale publicly:
- Pleated masks, pleated masks with a slit at the top for a filter, and the more fitted, deluxe style
- Kids sizes in each style – just smaller versions for kids under 10 years old
- Fabric ear loops instead of elastic ear loops, for those with elastic sensitivities
- Behind the Head elastic option which works well for those with hearing aids
We had never considered making face masks but pivoting quickly helped our company stay open when our governor issued a Stay Home, Stay Safe mandate in April and all non-essential businesses were closed. As facemasks were and are definitely essential, we were able to remain busy the whole month of April exclusively making facemasks. We have sold over 10,000 masks and have donated over 3500 masks to local food banks and other essential workers.
Our facemasks are available in over 20 organic cotton colors and are a wonderful way for us to use up some fabric scraps created while we make our usual products.
Good News: It’s been fulfilling being able to help with the pandemic in some way, and we’re grateful to our customers who recommended us to their friends and families as the need for face masks became clear.