Evolvetogether arrived on the scene in the midst of a global pandemic. With the world in a state of crisis, a sudden demand for medical face masks inspired founder and CEO Cynthia Sakai to take action. While other apparel brands began selling simple cloth options, Sakai wanted to offer something even more hygienic without sacrificing fashion for function. So she tracked down a factory that agreed to help her produce sterile, 3-ply SGS-tested medical masks at an affordable price point.

Last year, evolvetogether sold 10 million face masks. The NYC-based company’s early success was built on the quality of its hero product, one of the only FDA-registered consumer face masks available. This year, the company expanded into daily essentials like natural hand sanitizer; a reusable water bottle that’s marked with the Great Barrier Reef’s global coordinates; and the Fog Eraser, a reusable dry cloth that keeps fog at bay for people who wear glasses. (The Fog Eraser sold out within 24-hours after its first release, and 6,500 people joined the waitlist to get one.)

“We’re not about whims, trends, or making products for the sake of making them,” Sakai says. “We are about making the best possible version of a daily essential that performs how we promise, has a clean aesthetic, and makes a positive impact.”

Masks with a mission

As Sakai navigated the whirlwind of scaling a privately funded startup at a time when so many other businesses were struggling to stay afloat, it became clear very quickly that she hit on something truly remarkable. At one point, when celebrities including Ariana Grande, Katie Holmes, and Jennifer Lopez were photographed wearing her masks, she had a wait list more than 40,000 people long.

While those endorsements helped evolvetogether achieve massive growth, Sakai was intent on ensuring that the brand stood by its mission to offer performance-tested, socially responsible products that worked. “Caring is core to our DNA,” Sakai explains, and that culture covers everything from the brand’s production partners to its packaging, which is made from 100% post-consumer waste. The brand also donates a portion of sales from special edition masks to support organizations including the ACLU, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, GLSEN, and One Tree Planted.

“Everyone around the world uses daily essentials in some shape or form — which of course, adds up to a lot of waste and subpar product experiences,” Sakai adds. “But we think if done right, it could add up to a lot of opportunity to make a positive impact on people and our planet.”

Pared down essentials, robust video strategy

Sakai says her biggest challenge to date has been COVID-19’s impact on logistics, which affects everything from inventory to production to shipping. “As a new brand, we’re still getting our sea legs and building our reputation with our partners and customers, so it’s especially critical to get it right,” she says. “It’s pretty amazing that we’ve mostly figured it out by being agile, and prioritizing customer relationships and communication.”

Evolvetogether’s team is now 15 people strong, and Sakai recently partnered with a video agency to shoot and edit video content for the brand’s site and social channels. Customers can expect the brand’s video strategy to emphasize sustainability and social justice as much as it prioritizes sales goals. “Videos act as a kind of invitation to people,” Sakai says. “It’s an invitation to a community that wants to help make the world a better place for all of us, together. And that’s pretty powerful.”

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