maskSAFE Interviews Co-Founder Kali Curran
This week we’re having a chat with maskSAFE co-founder Kali Curran to share more about the journey of our chic and sustainable face mask case from concept to fully-fledged product!
maskSAFE: Hi, Kali! For the people who are just meeting you, could you tell us a little bit about your background?
Kali Curran: I grew up in a small town, Lansdale, Pennsylvania, and had the good fortune to earn a scholarship to attend a historic high school, Germantown Academy. I then attended the University of Pennsylvania. I’ve had excellent educational opportunities at both GA & Penn and tried to take advantage of all the experiences that the schools had to offer from athletics, student government, and just about anything social! At Penn, I met my very entertaining and outgoing husband. We now live outside of Philadelphia with our two equally entertaining and outgoing daughters and pups.
maskSAFE: You’ve been working as Finance Manager for the last 12 years. What drove the transition into entrepreneurship?
KC: Well, I am pretty opinionated by nature - just ask my friends and family. My mind is always racing, coming up with new ideas on how to solve a need, and make something better. Nothing is as exciting as a fresh idea, but each one needs tremendous work, dedication and follow through to make it grow into something special and valuable. I’ve consulted with others to help bring their ideas to market but maskSAFE is my first official venture into entrepreneurship. I have a lot of passion for this project and I’m proud to have been part of a team that turned maskSAFE from a concept to a much-needed product. The catalyst for this venture is the friendship and partnership I have with Loryn.
We were getting together for lunch to discuss a different business partnership when the idea for maskSAFE first emerged. I arrived at the restaurant a little early, and as I was seated, the server handed me a paper bag and said, “Here’s a bag to put your mask in.” The dining restrictions in our area had just recently been relaxed to the point where we could safely go out, and this was the first time I’d seen a paper bag offered.
I appreciated that they were trying to help, but I also thought, “It’s not very appealing or functional to have a brown paper take-out bag in the small space on this tiny table.” When Loryn sat down, I said, “Here. This is for your mask,” and she had the same reaction.
By the end of the meal we both knew there was a better, more practical, and marketable alternative to paper bags – we were certain of it – and now we’re on this wonderful ride together, creating a product and bringing it to market from the ground up!
maskSAFE: It sounds like your partnership is providing a lot of fuel for this project.
KC: Loryn and I have a lot in common – we’re both busy moms, we love to travel, we’re both very resourceful and I truly believe that we couldn’t accomplish this without one another and those supporting us.
Much of the strength, energy and momentum of what we’re doing is precisely because of the partnership. I’m grateful for it, and we have many other people to thank for our success as well. We have partnered and worked closely with our manufacturing team to develop and produce maskSAFE at lightning speed. Without them and our awesome logistics team, we wouldn’t have been able to get maskSAFE cases into the hands of all who need them as quickly as possible. We’re pulling together so many team members that I find myself regularly remembering my old professor’s advice to “expand the pie.”
maskSAFE: What does “expand the pie” mean?
KC: Let’s say you enter into a negotiation - think of the earnings as a pie that’s going to be split up between all the different interests. Everyone wants as a big of a slice as possible. The way most people approach this is to fight as hard as possible for their own goals and a bigger slice. But what if, instead, they work together and support each other to make the whole pie bigger, expand the pie? This way everyone’s reward is greater!
I’m naturally an independent person and do things on my own. I move at my own pace but I’ve always been part of a team. Being able to apply the “expand the pie” theory has been a practice and has made me a stronger teammate. Working with Loryn and collaborating with our ambitious team has been a lot of hard work and fun and a great learning experience as we bring a brand new product from concept to reality.
maskSAFE: You mentioned being a mother. How does being a parent inform your move into this entrepreneurial role?
KC: I have immense gratitude for the women that came before us, stood up for themselves and paved a path for us to set new standards. I was raised by a single mother, and she opened more doors for my brother and me than she will ever know. My Mom got me to where I am today, and there’s no end to the gratitude she deserves. Using her strength and will as an example, I preach NO LIMITS to my two awesome daughters and I try to embody this so they can see it in action. It’s a blessing to share this experience with them, and with my incredibly supportive and hard-working husband.
Of course, my girls have never liked when I’m on my laptop or if I’m not giving them one hundred percent of my attention – but now, they’ll ask, “Hey Mom, what are you doing?” And I’ll say I’m working, and now the response is, “Oh for maskSAFE? Great! Can I help?” Their excitement is so motivating, and energizes me to want to achieve great things for our company.
maskSAFE: On your website, you also mention being a minority-owned business. Can you speak to that?
KC: For me, I’ve never identified as African-American, or white, or the variety of other races that are in my DNA. I believe in living each day as myself, an individual, not boxed-in or inhibited by stereotypes or expectations of society – just myself. But I acknowledge and have experienced that sometimes people see me a certain way. And I know that there are many disenfranchised people who struggle because they’re also boxed-in or stereotyped. I’m happy to support all people and to add visibility, to show my support for them, and to share the message that anything is possible, no matter the constraints others might try to put on you.
maskSAFE: Thanks for sharing your experience. I’m curious, who do you think maskSAFE is for?
KC: This product means something personal to me. My older daughter has been hospitalized a few times with breathing issues, so in the early stages of the pandemic we were especially concerned to be learning that this novel disease attacks our lungs. We care about everyone in our community, and especially our heroic front-line workers, but there’s also something unique and powerful about that care you have for your own children.
Truly, maskSAFE is for everyone though, regardless of pre-existing conditions. Unfortunately, mask wearing will be part of our new normal. We all need to pay attention to mask safety and have a place to put our masks, not only for ourselves and our own health, but also for the people around us.
maskSAFE: What are you most excited about in the next steps of the maskSAFE journey?
KC: The best part of this experience so far is all the people we’ve been introduced to. We’re only a few months in, and I know that as the word spreads about how helpful maskSAFE is, we’ll continue to meet more interesting people and have new adventures. I crave new learning experiences, so the more I can do and the more I can learn in my life, the better parent I think I will be as well as a better citizen.
Now is the time to get your maskSAFE face mask case. We believe wholeheartedly that it can help us all be better citizens, because caring for our masks means caring for our families and our communities. Browse our collection now to find the right fit for everyone in your home.
- the maskSAFE Family