( ENSPIRE Features ) Marissa Goldstein Shifts Business in the Middle of the Pandemic and Becomes the Top Mask Manufacturing Brands
ENSPIRE Contributor: Michelle Bolden
The coronavirus pandemic hit America just weeks after entrepreneur Marissa Goldstein launched her brand Rafi Nova in February 2020. Rather than succumbing to the panic of uncertainty, Goldstein resourcefully refocused her company to mask manufacturing and within five months became a leader in the mask market. Since launching Rafi Nova, Goldstein’s business gained over 100,000 new customers and sold more than two million masks. The company has also extended its line to include new products such as belt bags, mask chairs, and more.
No novice to entrepreneurship, Goldstein has co-founded three different businesses; Orora Global, Timroon Group, and Rafi Nova. Her first of the three came about while she was still pursuing her BA at Babson College. She has attained over 10K followers on her Instagram account and featured on Good Morning America, The Kelly Clarkson Show, and the leading broadcast outlets in her local New England market.
Launched in early 2020, Rafi Nova is named from Goldstein‘s four children, Raya, Efi, Noa, and Eyva. She and her husband Adam, who co-founded the brand, envisioned a brand that would “encourage families to adventure near and far by outfitting them with fair-trade products and accessories.” They began creating fair-trade backpacks designed to make family travel as easy as possible. She explains that the mission of Rafi Vova has always been to “inspire families to connect globally through travel.”
Unfortunately, the pandemic hit in March 2020 and global travel bans forced the company to move in a new direction in a matter of weeks. “Entrepreneurship has steep ups and downs. It’s important to remember moderation; good days are never as good as they seem and bad days are never as bad as they seem,” Goldstein said. Rafi Nova quickly shifted manufacturing priority from travel accessories to multiple styles of face coverings that prioritize comfort, function, and inclusivity to slow the spread of COVID-19. Although this was never in her plans for the company, Goldstein explains that adjusting allowed the brand to expand its ability to “connect with more families, reach more communities, donate more than 200,000 masks to organizations in need and workers on the front line.”
She added, “We did not pivot to masks to grow our business. We pivoted to protect our frontline workers—and the business took off. Our goal always was to protect communities and to pay what you can reflect that our commitment is to truly serve communities.”
Goldstein and her family split their time mostly between Boston and Vietnam to oversee their sustainable product and textile manufacturing. She openly credits her time with Vietnam’s Hmong community with inspiring her to “incorporate their brightly colored handmade textiles into Rafi Nova’s contemporary accessories and share their stories with an international audience.”
As for the success of her company despite the pandemic, Goldstein in part attributes this to the brand’s strong social media presence and living and manufacturing in Vietnam. She explained that in Vietnam, the public was already familiar with wearing masks and the factory there was quick to adjust manufacturing masks. Another advantage was the support Goldstein received from HeyMama, “an association of working moms that provided me with so many resources as I was growing the company.” Goldstein encourages other entrepreneurs to keep everything in perspective and not be afraid to make mistakes. She states, “Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Make them often and learn fast. We’ve had great success and we have misfires—we learn from both.” Find more about Rafi Nova and shop at rafinova.com.