Johannesburg – Inspired by the need to protect his daughter, an Edenvale-based entrepreneur and tattoo shop owner has created a Covid-19 protective shirt that is especially convenient for people who sometimes forget their masks.
Andrew King’s tattoo studio, M&K Before Ink’s doors were closed during levels 5 and 4 of the lockdown and to survive financially, the owner and entrepreneur needed to get creative.
“We all felt the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic and the shop was closed for 101 days, but we’re South Africans, we are resourceful and we make plans,” King told The Star on Wednesday.
King’s protectiveness towards his 12-year-old daughter inspired him to create the Pure Air brand.
“When Covid-19 hit earlier this year, I was more panicky about my daughter looking after her mask because children misplace things. My thinking was that I’ll attach a mask to a shirt so I know she’s wearing a shirt and a mask on her,” he said.
The products, that are sold online and from the tattoo parlour, have an ISO14664-certified filter that can be inserted into the neck of the garment that can be easily pulled up over the mouth and face to offer protection against Covid-19.
King added that the product could also be worn as a vest.
“I financed the product with the help of my wife and we absolutely killed our savings, but we were very confident in our product and although people’s perception around Covid-19 have somewhat relaxed, when we started it in April, the tensions were very real,” King said.
The product was designed and manufactured locally as King drew a sketch and consulted with a local clothing designer, and the filter was developed in the Western Cape.
King added that he was excited about the product because the filter worked two ways.
“If the person wearing it is sick, they’re not passing it on to another person and vice versa, so hopefully there’s a gap in the entertainment and sporting industry,” he said.
The creator of the Pure Air brand said the company’s biggest challenge was making sure the garments were comfortable and practical.
“Most masks go behind the ears, but our product goes below the ear so it rests on the bridge of the nose and that was the biggest challenge, so people could get their heads up and turn them without it slipping down their face,” he said.
King added that his product was convenient, especially for children and people who forget their masks at home when going out in public places, like a shop.
“It’s convenient because it goes from a polo neck into a mask and then back into a polo neck.
“The funny thing is that people don’t see it as a mask, so we made and designed it to look as normal as possible, and if you pull it down, it really just looks like a shirt,” King said.