( ENSPIRE Business ) New Line of Activewear with Built-In Face Masks Makes Life Easier for Working People
ENSPIRE Contributor: Abby Ladner
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many changes to people’s lives, and the daily donning of face masks is one of them. While more people have been working from home in response to the pandemic, many are still needing to put on face coverings and leave their houses for work. More disposable face masks are being used, leading to a growing problem of litter and waste. Now, three friends are teaming up to help solve this issue.
NewBreath, founded by Mike Werner, Trey Washington, and Caleb McGuire, offers an alternative to the traditional face mask. The new clothing line features long and short-sleeve activewear shirts with face coverings. NewBreath clothing promotes sustainability by reducing the need for disposable face masks. Their products also eliminate the need for carrying a face mask, which could be uncomfortable or forgotten, making life easier for the essential workers working during the pandemic. In the ENSPIRE interview, Trey Washington (TW) and Caleb McGuire (CM) share more about NewBreath products and the company.
How did you come up with the concept behind NewBreath, and how did you decide to turn that idea into a reality?
CM: I’ve been friends with Trey and Mike for years. During the early months of the quarantine, there was a lot of uncertainty with regards to the restrictions and how long it was going to last. Mike used to drive trucks for a living, and he still had a lot of friends who still had to go out there to work. As the weeks stretched out, we all knew so many people who were starting to hurt financially and mentally. And some had kids who were also struggling, because how can you explain to a child how being locked down was about saving lives?
TW: Finally, the importance of wearing safety masks started to gain acceptance, but so many people were either ignoring or accidentally leaving them behind. There was also the matter of some finding it difficult to breathe. Mike kept thinking there had to be a better way. So he came up with an idea of the mask already built-in to a shirt, which would eliminate a lot of the problems people were experiencing with the masks. One day, we all got together, and we all brainstormed this idea and realized it could really make a difference for a lot of people. There was a growing restlessness and pent up frustrations about staying indoors, and people were missing out on family get togethers and celebrations and holidays. And as important as it was to us to help bring people together, it was just as important that we gave essential and frontline workers a comfortable, easy, and effective alternative to face masks.
Could you tell me about the product’s development? What was the process of designing and producing like?
CM: We first established the key functions we wanted the garments to fulfill for people. The face mask had to be built-in to a shirt top, so it would be convenient to just wear a NewBreath garment, and they don’t have to worry about leaving a facemask behind whenever they go out. It had to be effective, as a mask, yet breathable and comfortable. We also considered how these tops had to be functional as activewear for people to be able to wear them to the gym when they’re out running or going on errands.
TW: But we also realized we really needed someone who knew how to design a garment and had experience in the industry. So we appointed Courtney Dickins as creative director, and she really has been amazing at translating our ideas into reality. We looked at fabric options and picked the ones that are high quality and actually military-grade durable with moist wicking properties.
Who in particular do you hope to help with NewBreath?
TW: We want to reach out to everyone – the working men and women who are out there all the time trying to make a living, the frontline workers from medical professionals, police officers, firefighters, emergency responders, all the way to children who have to go to school. Additionally, we’re all very conscious about the accumulation of waste by disposable masks. You see them everywhere now littering the streets. They’re all just going to end up as more non-biodegradable waste in landfills. We want everyone who understands the importance of being socially responsible to realize how important it is to wear NewBreath because you can keep reusing it and not add to the waste problem.
Do you see a future for NewBreath after COVID-19? Do you have any long-term goals for the brand beyond the pandemic?
CM: Absolutely! The shirts themselves are made with high quality and durable performance fabrics and can be worn whether you pull up the funnel neck as a face mask or not. Right now, we have to live with Covid19 for some time to come. And unfortunately, it’s almost inevitable that these communicable viruses will become more prevalent, so we really think NewBreath is an important next stage in the evolution of activewear.
NewBreath is helping working people leave their homes without compromising on comfort and safety. Additionally, NewBreath products help cut down on the waste of disposable face masks by offering a convenient reusable alternative. NewBreath products are currently in production and will be available for order within the next few weeks. Find more information and updates on NewBreath’s website or Instagram @NewBreathClothing.