FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Northwest Arkansas-based Junk Brands has been making and selling athletic headbands for eight years.
With the outbreak of COVID-19, the company wanted to do its part to help the Northwest Arkansas community reduce the spread of the virus. After a lot of research and consulting doctors, Junk President and General Manager Craig Lile decided to create protective masks.
They’re not N95s or medical grade, but they do help add a needed layer of protection.
After testing out at least a dozen prototypes, Junk Production Supervisor Ivy Flippo landed on one that is simple to sew and comfortable to wear. She can make one in eight minutes and about 150 masks a day.
Lile tells KNWA that in a matter of days people, groups, and hospitals in 49 states ordered the handmade masks.
“We fully expected there to be a decent amount of people that would ask. We were overwhelmed. I mean, just overwhelmed. I think at this point we’ve had well over 2-thousand organizations reach out to us,” said Lile.
“It was overwhelming but it was also heartbreaking, the need for it right now. It does somewhat feel good to be able to do even a tiny little bit to help,” added Flippo.
Half a million masks have been requested. While Junk can’t make that many, the staff is working hard to get as many as 1,000 made a day. They’re also prioritizing Northwest Arkansas orders.