maskSAFE Interviews Co-Founder Loryn Wilson-Schiffer
This week we’re having a chat with maskSAFE co-founder Loryn Wilson-Schiffer to share more about the inspiration behind our chic and sustainable face mask case.
maskSAFE: Hi, Loryn! For the people who are just meeting you, could you tell us a little bit about your background?
Loryn Wilson Schiffer: Sure! I grew up in Holmdel, New Jersey and went to Holmdel High School. I attended the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and Human Biology. After college, I lived in New York City for a while, and worked at Chase Cost Management, as a financial consultant in the legal market.
After Chase, I moved back to New Jersey and worked at LexisNexis as a legal consultant, when I met my husband, Pete. Pete’s family has a publishing business headquartered outside of Philadelphia, so, when we got married, we settled down near the business. We now have two boys, four dogs, a cat, and farm animals. It’s busy at home!
maskSAFE: What was your entry point into entrepreneurship?
LWS: When my first son was born, I made a transition from corporate America to the family business. I love being part of the Schiffer Publishing team, where I’ve worked for the past eleven years.
But, since I was a little girl, I wanted to create something, invent something. The opportunity to develop maskSAFE with (maskSAFE cofounder) Kali presented itself very organically - everyone is making masks, but who is making something to keep your mask safe? So, now we have it – maskSAFE!
maskSAFE: You and Kali saw a need and decided to fill it?
LWS: Yes, but not that simple. As much as we recognize the need for maskSAFE, creating maskSAFE is really personal, and Kali and I are both passionate about helping people. So many people have compromised immune systems, like me.
I had breast cancer in 2015, so I’m about five and a half years out. Anyone who has had cancer knows 5 years is a big deal when it comes to recurrence. All of my treatment was done at Penn Medicine.
When this pandemic hit, and it became clear that anyone with underlying issues or compromised immune systems was at a much greater risk, my heart really ached. From my own experience, I know that getting a cancer diagnosis is devastating in itself, but to have to go through something like that in a pandemic is even more crippling. When I was going through chemotherapy and radiation, I was very susceptible to getting colds and viruses, the flu – my system was so fragile. I can first-hand relate to people with compromised immune systems and maskSAFE can be so useful for them. It’s a solution that can give them reassurance.
maskSAFE: Thank you for sharing your experience. You mentioned that you had been looking for an opportunity to create or invent something. Are you getting that experience with the development of maskSAFE?
LWS: 100%! It’s been a tremendous experience and Kali and I dove right in, grassroots, and it’s been full steam ahead. It’s moving at such a fast pace, because we see such a need in the market for maskSAFE, and we’re passionate about fulfilling that need. We’re a great team with individual strengths that really complement each other. We’ve been very lucky that way; I couldn’t ask for a better partner.
And, we have phenomenal partnerships too - from design and manufacturing, to warehousing and customer service - Kali and I may be on the front line, but there is a village behind maskSAFE.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned so far is that what can appear so simple or so easy, is very often much more complicated. We want everything perfect, and that takes time. We strive for excellence over perfection, and to get the job done.
maskSAFE: What was your specific inspiration for starting maskSAFE?
LWS: I think, like many people, it was frustrating and often depressing to have your life stopped or slowed by COVID. Once local measures allowed us to venture out a bit, Kali and I had lunch at one of our favorite restaurants. We sat down and the waiter walked over and handed us each a brown paper bag, and said, “You can put your mask in here.”
This was a brand-new experience, and we thought it was great that we didn’t need to put our mask on the table or shove it in our purse, or pocket. It was a sensible and a fine first step to try and prevent the potential chances for cross-contamination. But it was also an “ah ha” moment for Kali and me - and we came to the immediate conclusion that we could certainly develop something that’s safer, more secure, reusable, and a little nicer than a paper bag. So, that’s when we said, okay, let’s do this. That was the beginning for maskSAFE!
maskSAFE: So the idea came about at a restaurant, are there other uses, other scenarios where you see maskSAFE being useful?
LWS: I think the better question is who isn’t maskSAFE for? I see maskSAFE in every setting where someone’s going to take their mask off – to eat, or anywhere that they’re at a safe distance from other people. From the corporate desk to the factory line, from traveling through airports to the local park, from the doctor to the patient, maskSAFE has a needed place.
maskSAFE is also certainly useful in schools. Children are taking their masks off to eat lunch, play their musical instrument in band practice, and for physical activity in PE or recess. We don’t often think about it, but when you put your mask down, say onto the table, or shove it into your pocket, or even just fold it up and hold it in your hand, you’re exposing it to so many germs… and then you’re putting it right back on your mouth! maskSAFE is the solution to protect your mask, keeping it safe and secure.
maskSAFE: What are you most excited about in the next steps for the company?
LWS: I love the reactions we are getting from teachers, doctors, store owners, moms and CEOs… We’re getting really positive feedback from the people who have tested the product, but we’re just beginning to spread our wings and launch maskSAFE out into the world. The potential to help solve this real problem is tremendous.
If you’re ready to answer the question: “Where do I put my mask when I’m not using it?” then you’re ready to browse our collection. Whether you’re more concerned about purchasing a sustainable product, limiting cross-contamination, or staying fashionable while promoting mask safety, our mask cases are the right fit for you.
-the maskSAFE Family