One of the inspiring themes emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic is watching how companies are problem solving and innovating to figure out the best ways to use their resources, and leverage their network, to support the healthcare industry on the frontlines of this global crisis.
British technology company Dyson, who invented the world’s best vacuum cleaners, has successfully designed ventilators, and committed to 15, 000 units to help with the coronavirus fight.
Quebec hockey equipment manufacturer Bauer, has begun making protective gear for medical staff, hoping to produce 500,000 units. And the latest success story is how Toronto-based Knix, the global leader in wire-free bras and leak-proof underwear, has figured out how to leverage their supply chain to help with the shortage of Personal Protective Equipment in Canadian hospitals.
It was less than two weeks ago when Knix Founder & CEO Joanna Griffiths was having a conversation with her younger brother, Dr. Chris Griffiths, when he relayed his concerns about a severe shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in Canadian hospitals. It was in this exchange when Joanna wondered whether the factories and supply chains Knix uses could somehow be repurposed to create masks instead of underwear. The multimillion-dollar intimates company already had the relationships and production contracts in place—could they somehow repurpose their materials or assembly line to help the healthcare industry?
At first, Joanna explored the idea of transforming the Knix Leakpoof nursing bras into masks, and while researching this option she discovered that two of Knix’s main product vendors also own factories that produce PPE. After consulting with hospitals, it was determined that the best way Knix could help was not to reinvent their product but instead leverage existing supply chain relationships to purchase finished PPE product.
On March 21 a GoFundMe campaign was launched, and within days Joanna was able to surpass the original goal. “We started the campaign with the goal to raise $50,000, and within less than 48 hours we surpassed this number. We will keep upping our goal so long as we can continue to access and distribute supplies. Our aim is to help bridge inventory gaps while larger government programs are put in place. The feedback for this campaign has truly been overwhelming and goes beyond a monetary value. Canadians are rallying together to support our nation’s selfless frontline workers.”
The brand has raised over $85,000 and has put those funds towards purchasing 100,000 units of supplies, including 20,000 N95 masks, 30,000 surgical masks and 50,000 gloves. But with over 50 institutions from five provinces having already submitted requests, it’s obvious that there is a massive shortage, and that this situation is critical.
Knix has already made their first donation shipment to a partner organization in Alberta this past Tuesday, and they are determined to continue to grow the fund, to keep the supply chain moving. Anyone able to contribute can donate here.
“This is a point in time that we will all look back on and ask ourselves if we did everything we could to help. Our PPE campaign is our way of saying thank you to all of the frontline workers that are tirelessly working day and night to fight COVID-19,” added Griffiths. “To them we say, you are not alone in this fight. We thank you and we support you.”