Just the Essentials: Local makers shift business in the face of COVID-19

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Manitoba makers were quick to adjust their regular production to provide some of the most in-demand products: face masks and hand sanitizer. 

Hands Down

Cosmetic companies like Little Tree Hugger Soap Co. and Kingsmen Grooming Products jumped at the chance to start producing hand sanitizer. 

The necessity of the product was evident immediately. However, nothing could have prepared these companies for how difficult sourcing the right ingredients would prove to be.

“All bottles and sprayers became scarce, forcing us to order overseas and pay exorbitant product and shipping prices,” Morissette says. “Production became very, very expensive to say the least.” Little Tree Hugger Soap owner Lyne Morissette recalls that isopropyl alcohol prices were 2–3 times higher than normal. 

Despite the inflated price tags, Morissette was determined to source only the highest quality ingredients for their hand sanitizer, as they do with all their bath and body products. 

“That's our promise to our customers,” Morissette says, “one we are not willing to compromise.”

Nate Wollman, owner of Kingsmen Grooming Products, said he was committed to creating a hand sanitizer that was as good for your skin as it was at killing germs. Kingsmen’s Pure Hands sanitizer includes moisturizers like Aloe barbadensis juice and glycerin, and offers a pleasing mixed berry scent. 

Wollman said that, in not being able to find some of the ingredients they were looking for, they discovered new, exciting alternatives—namely, hydroxypropyl guar. 

This ingredient gives the hand sanitizer a non-tacky gel texture that leaves skin super silky. 

Wollman’s even considering incorporating this new ingredient into their other skin and hair care products.

Face It

Another essential item for preventing the spread of the coronavirus: face masks. When the pandemic hit, Julie Pedersen shifted from producing her famous mukluks to producing much-needed non-medical masks.  

Patternmaking and sewing are a regular part of Pedersen’s process so the transition to making masks was almost seamless. However, the high demand for masks and the lack of available materials kept Pedersen on her toes. 

Pedersen spent one weekend working tirelessly to make a new pattern for the masks. This way, she could reduce the amount of steps in the assembly process and, ultimately, make more masks, faster.

Julie’s masks are two layers. The outer layer is made from lightweight, upcycled fabric samples. The second layer is an unbleached cotton generously donated by West Textiles

With elastic on backorder from virtually every outlet, Pedersen opted to make the mask straps out of opaque tights, which help make the masks extra comfy. 

“I have received a lot of feedback on how comfortable my masks are,” Pedersen says.  

A New Normal?

Julie Pedersen will continue to make her one-of-a-kind, non-medical masks as long as the community needs them. 

Both Little Tree Hugger Soap and Kingsmen Grooming Products are excited to introduce their hand sanitizers to their regular product lines. 

Made Here is proud to stock the best products from such innovative and quick-thinking makers.

July 03, 2020