Student start-up provides needed masks and jobs during COVID-19 pandemic

May 26, 2020 | Biz/Tech, COVID-19, News

People wearing CFM masks in Toronto. Photo by Rob Danics/CFM
People wearing CFM masks in Toronto. (Roy Danics/CFM)
Neil Gonputh

Canadian Face Masks (CFM) is a new Toronto-based company producing essential, non-medical face masks while creating much-needed jobs for students.

Founded on April 23 by Western University student Matthew Danics and Queens University student Josh Sofer, they wanted to help students who had lost jobs and internships because of COVID-19, while alleviating the demand for masks.

“To us it was a no-brainer. We had to do everything we could to try and help. That’s how we got started,” Sofer said.

CFM Co-founder Josh Bell.
CFM Co-founder Josh Bell. Courtesy Photo CFM

Their masks differ from others based on price, quality and style.

“We wanted to make masks affordable,” Sofer said. Their masks begin at $8.95, while other manufacturers’ masks can range from $12 to $95 each.

Talia Bell, director of marketing and communications for CFM, said while the disposable face masks may be effective for some, they don’t mould all faces and they aren’t reusable, which can be quite costly.

CFM not only sells masks, they educate people on how to wear the masks properly.

“We’ve also created our education page because a lot of people were wearing their face masks ineffectively,” Bell said. “So even if they have their face masks they’re only effective if they know how to wear it and care for it properly.”

The company is doing quite well and is growing rapidly. They‘ve only been around for a month and their workforce has already tripled.

“It started with three [the two founders and Bell] and now we have a team of nine students,” Bell said. They are also getting requests from students wishing to join them.

The company’s growth is rapid, expanding from Toronto into other cities.

“We first started out in Toronto, however we have one or two (employees) in London, Ont. and we are looking to hire others in other places,” including across the country, Bell said.

Their growth has also allowed them to give back to the community. They recently donated masks to Bernard Betel Centre.

Bell is a Meals on Wheels volunteer for the Bernard Betel Centre and had recognized two things. She said they have volunteers who were going through many disposable masks.

But she noticed the need for the volunteers to have comfortable masks, prompting the company’s donation.

Talia Bell, Director of Marketing and Communications for CFM at the Bernard Betel Centre.
Talia Bell, director of marketing and communications for CFM, at the Bernard Betel Centre. CFM donated reusable masks to the non-profit community centre in North Toronto. Courtesy photo CFM

Giving back to the community is part of the company’s mandate.

“One in every 10 of our organic face masks sold is donated to non-profit organizations,” Bell said.

Sofer said much of the company’s donating strategy is focused towards vulnerable communities affected by the outbreak.

“We’re expanding past that to look at hospitals. We’re really trying to expand our reach in terms of community impact for donations as well,” he said.

One of their team members is a health-science student who works with a hospital in London.

“She identified this demand for masks in the hospital so we really want to offer non-medical masks that would be used by the patients,” Sofer said.

CFM will be donating 20 masks to the North York Community Housing on Wednesday, Bell said.

Students seeking employment or volunteer opportunities can check out their recruitment page.