Inspiring individuality and identity, while covering up and keeping safe.
Masks have been on everyone’s mind since the beginning of the year, as the COVID-19 pandemic has become an increasing concern for people across the globe. The Center for Disease Control has advised mask usage in helping decrease the spread of COVID-19, as masks provide a barrier to prevent respiratory droplets from being transferred from person to person. For many Americans, mask usage is a new concept that makes expressing who we are difficult, because of the area of the face masks cover. Realizing this, Bert Cumming started a business during the past year that focuses on helping children show their personality and individuality with Mijimask.
Bert! Tell us a little bit about yourself!
I am a junior, and recent transfer, at Babson College. I am concentrating in finance and entrepreneurship with hopes to one day take one of my companies public on the stock exchange. I consider myself an innovator and a doer, what I mean by that is that I love to create solutions to all sorts of problems and my motivation drives me to attack these ideas.
Some hobbies include Jet Skiing over the summer, snowmobiling over the winter and day trading in between.
What is Mijimask and what was the inspiration behind the business?
Mijimask is a customizable face mask designed for children of all ages. Our mission is to provide children the opportunity to “own the pandemic” by wearing a mask that represents who they are. It provides children the ability to customize their own masks thereby providing them a unique mask and gaining confidence. Mijimask allows kids (recommended ages 5+) to customize their masks with attachable and detachable Mijis making them unique to their personalities.
My inspiration behind the business is to prevent kids from losing their individuality by covering their faces every day. At young ages, children are susceptible to every little thing they are exposed too, and I do not want their creativity to be effected in the future years because of the pandemic that is happening at this pivotal time in their lives.
What excites you about the business and the business’ mission?
What excites me the most about this business is the direct correlation that comes from COVID-19. In today’s marketplace supply chains are affected across the globe affecting businesses, and if I can learn to navigate the supply/product market in the hardest time in history, I will be more than capable of navigating the market when COVID-19 does not exist.
My mission is exciting because I am working towards protecting the creativity of young minds, and this is important to me because I consider my creativity and innovative abilities to be some of the most important traits I have.
What makes Mijimask different from other masks on the market?
Mjimask is different from other masks because it promotes the personality and customization of face masks. Other masks in the market are extremely generic and mass produced with printed designs on them, limiting the rarity of the mask itself. Mijimask makes it nearly impossible to have the exact same mask as anyone else, promoting creativity when designing the mask.
What has been the most challenging aspect of starting and operating the business?
Marketing has been the most challenging aspect of operating my business. This is due to the sole reason that I do not know how advertising and marketing work, and I have to spend a majority of my time studying and learning instead of actually doing something since it is costly. I had previously underestimated marketing as a whole, and now have much more respect for that industry.
What has been the most rewarding moment of starting and operating Mijimask?
The most rewarding moment of starting Mijimask, MaskMate L.L.C. is demonstrated in the picture of the two girls below. When I received this picture of the kids choosing their mijis to put on their mask, I knew what I was doing was for the right cause and my mission was chosen correctly.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs who are starting or would like to start a business during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Do it. Do not let COVID-19 delay your plans to start a business or intimidate you into not starting your business at all. We do not know how long this will last and the longer you wait, the less passion you will have for your idea in the future and less of a chance to be successful. Start your business not matter the environment around you, and learn as you go–like I am currently doing with marketing.
What about the future excites you?
I am excited for these vaccines to be released, and for things to go back to normal as soon as possible. People keep saying, “our new normal”, but I do not want to accept a world wear wearing a face mask and doing work and school online is considered our “normal”. The way we are currently living is a false reality and we need to do everything possible to return to the world we used to live in, where it was normal to gather in groups for holidays and no one needs to feel scared when a simple cough is let out. Mijimask is made to make these times easier, but it is not made to make these times acceptable forever. We need to wear our masks while we are told to prevent the spread, but we also need to accept the time when it comes to abandon these masks and return to our normal way of life, and I am excited for that day to come.