Help me Grow a Sustainable Business

50182222_1596580083864255_r.jpegWhen I started my first business in 2014, I was ten. Instead of a lemonade stand like so many of my classmates, I made lip balm. Granted, the lip balm was lemonade flavored, but strawberry was out of stock. Later, in 2016, I made shaving brushes. I got the idea from my Dad’s woodworking. 

The first shaving brushes sold door to door.  Eventually, I was able to sell to a family owned boutique, hair salon, and the farmers market in Bainbridge Island, Washington. 

Soon nearly everyone in my town heard of my business.

            In fall of 2018 we relocated to Oregon. For almost a year my business took a back seat as I was settling down in a new environment.

I started making my brushes again in fall of 2019 and sold in some craft fairs and at a couple of retail locations. In January 2020 I was trying to explore local boutiques and barber shops to find retail space. By then news of Covid 19 was just beginning to be noticed in my school. 

By spring our school went online. Our teaching is done through google meetings and recorded lectures.

At first, everyone I knew was excited. In our minds we had more spring break. Within two weeks that excitement was gone. Imagine the kind of energy you get from a party. Now imagine that the party went on for three weeks. You can’t do anything else. You would be bored.  

I didn’t want to waste my time. For me, documenting my experience would not have done much. My family was safe. Safe and healthy is boring. I didn’t want to sleep until 12 like my friends.

So, if I don’t want to get sick, I have to be safe. If I want to feel fulfilled, I need to be outside. What is the solution? That solution is masks. 

At the time, PPE and disposable masks had skyrocketed in price. The cost of a paper mask was as much as a week's worth of groceries. My family only had scarves at the time, and shopping was a risky endeavor.   

 My mother worked in the sporting goods industry. She worked in lifestyle and fitness products. Shoes and the sorts of things that you wear for fitness were her passion. Masks kind of fit into that category. 

 I asked her if she can teach me designing, pattern making and stitching. She said that she had not used a sewing machine for a long time, but she promised to relearn and teach me alongside her. 

I learned how to do basic stitching. The first thing I made was a handkerchief. It took me a week to master the art of putting thread through a piece of cloth.  

After a few days of experimenting, I made my first mask that was of the standard I wanted. It could be donated to people on the who needed them. My mom helped with the design quality, so at least my project was professional. 

I started making masks and donating to elderly people, local businesses and front line workers. I haven’t accepted donations, so to generate funds to buy material I started selling to friends.  

An interesting tidbit about my masks. A study on the effectiveness of face masks found that the most effective versions were the expendable doctors mask, and the three layered cotton mask worn by surgeons. My mask takes inspiration from the latter.

Now, after some sales around my town, I have made a conclusion. I want to make a business that gives masks to those in need, especially teachers and students who are on food stamps. Even in my community, which is considered to be wealthy, there are people who can barely afford the clothing on their back. 

I need to help people, but I need to be sustainable. So, for every two masks I sell, one mask goes to someone in need. 

As this expands, this will be the case with multiple cities. I will try to make sure that nearly every community in my state will be able to protect themselves if they want to.

If my community has people who need masks, then I know that a lot of other people in the country need them too. 

I want to help education, social, and hospitality workers. I have family members who work in hospitality and schools. I know that physical contact is not an option for some of them. 

I have had to sell online and through social media platforms. It’s hard. It can’t be a one-person thing. Managing a YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook account is not easy or even pleasant. 

I can’t do this myself. I want to grow a plant, but I don’t have a seed. If you could donate to my cause, I could create something sustainable and ethical. I could help my state.

Thank you for taking your time to read this to the end. I’m grateful for it. If you have donated, I am grateful for that too. 50182222_1596579468720461_r.jpeg


  • David Thiel 
    • $25 
    • 13 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $25 
    • 13 mos
  • Amresh Kumar 
    • $800 
    • 14 mos
  • Amresh Kumar 
    • $200 
    • 14 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $340 
    • 14 mos
See all

Organizer and beneficiary

Erik Stoltz 
Lake Oswego, OR
Sushma Das 
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