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Atoms Masks for NYC Public Housing Residents

Yesterday, Governor Andrew Cuomo said he’s issuing an executive order requiring all New Yorkers to wear a mask or face covering while in public. It’s a 100% reversal of advice from more than a month ago where medical-grade masks had to be prioritized for front-line healthcare workers. That’s left New Yorkers of all backgrounds scrambling to buy or DIY their own cloth masks amid a huge public health crisis.

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Waqas & Sidra, co-founders of atoms. 📸 Zoe Black

Thankfully, many Initialized companies are stepping up to help, whether that’s in facilitating shipments of personal protective equipment or in helping small businesses secure fiscal stimulus money.

Now one of the teams I’ve worked with for years, Atoms, is doing the same. Waqas and Sidra, the founders of Atoms, have made New York City their home after an entrepreneurial journey that has taken them thousands of miles from their small hometown in Pakistan and through multiple companies they’ve founded making high-quality, beautiful, and tremendously comfortable shoes.

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Atoms team member Seungin Han wearing his Atoms mask while in line to vote!

In light of this pandemic, they’re converting their production capacity using experienced factories in South Korea into making copper-infused masks for everyday wear that can be washed up to 30 times. Not only that, they are setting up a buy-one, donate-one system for people to help fund donations of masks to the NYC Housing Authority (NYCHA), which serves hundreds of thousands of residents across the city.

I’m kickstarting this by personally funding an initial donation of 5,000 masks to NYCHA that will go to residents near Atoms’ office and warehouse at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. In 1983, my parents brought me home from the hospital to an apartment in Fort Greene, just a 10 minute bike-ride from what is now the Atoms headquarters. I love New York City. I also know how fortunate I am to be writing this from where I sit today and I know there are communities all across the USA who are going to be disproportionately impacted during this time, even as we start to recover.

We know that COVID-19 is reshaping our society and will continue to do so, but it gives me hope to see entrepreneurs like Waqas + Sidra adapting their entire manufacturing process to meet urgent demands and also support the most vulnerable in the communities they operate in.

Amazingly through just word of mouth, Atoms has already sold 4,200 masks, which enables another donation of 4,200 masks.

You can buy them here:

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Lined with copper-infused yarn, the masks are comfortable, stretchable and breathable. The copper-infused fabric gives the masks anti-microbial properties as research shows that viruses, including COVID-19, start degrading when they land on copper surfaces, and last only hours as opposed to 24 hours on cardboard or two to three days on plastic and stainless steel surfaces. They are available in a wide range of sizes; kids ages 8 through 12 can wear the small size while the medium size can fit most adults.

Ever innovators, Waqas and Sidra are also committed to make the masks even higher-quality and better-designed with each batch they ship. If Atoms shoes are any indication, these will be the best masks you’ve ever worn and you’ll be able to comfortably wear them every day.