A couple of weeks ago, I saw this tweet by my partner Albert:
I clicked on the underlying tweet thread and learned that some countries have adopted an approach where everyone wears face masks when they are out and about. That way, if you are infected and don’t know it, you won’t spread the virus to others. It requires everyone, or most everyone, to adopt this approach, which is why they call it Masks4All.
So I went to Etsy (Disclosure: I am the Chairman of Etsy and own a large amount of stock) and bought some face masks for my wife and me from a number of Etsy sellers. These are not medical masks. They are fabric masks, some with filters, some without filters. And we have been wearing masks when we leave our home ever since.
In the following days, every time we would go out to the market or for a walk, we would notice more and more people wearing masks. We are in Los Angeles right now and I would guess that at least half of everyone out and about in LA right now are wearing masks in public. It could be even more than that.
Last week, federal and state and city government officials started recommending wearing masks in public and we started to see even more people wearing masks.
Around the same time, Etsy started to see a lot of people coming there to find and purchase fabric masks. So they put out a message to all of their sellers (they have over 2.7mm sellers) asking them to make fabric masks if they can sew and work with fabric. And they massively increased the number of sellers making masks and the amount of mask inventory on Etsy.
If you go to Etsy and search for face mask (or mask or fabric mask or something along those lines), you will see this:
You can drill down and find the right kind of mask for you, your kids, your parents, or whomever you want to buy one for.
I like this story for a lot of reasons. For one, it shows that tens of thousands of individuals can come together and quickly ramp supply of something that everyone wants to buy right now. We don’t have to be reliant on a single large supplier. Second, by using fabric masks, we leave the medical mask supply for the healthcare workers which is critical right now.
And maybe most importantly, masks can become personal. Mine is different than yours. Maybe I have a bunch of them for various moods, days, times of day, etc. Like t-shirts or hats.
If we are going to be wearing masks in public for a while, we might as well treat them like any other item of clothing we wear, make sure they are comfortable, fit well, and look good too.
And Etsy is a great place to shop for things like that.