Masks with Mission seeks to solve two problems

BOULDER — A new startup organization with its origins just six weeks ago attempts to tackle two top-of-mind issues: Supplying masks to people wanting to protect themselves from COVID-19 and encouraging people to vote.

The Vote Mask can be used for most non-medical applications. Courtesy Masks with Mission.

Masks with Mission, created by two Boulder natives who returned home as the pandemic set in, seeks to solve two problems with one product, the Vote Mask.

“We saw real problems [resulting from COVID]. People need to find masks here and nationwide, and people find it difficult to engage in civic duty as poll workers and voters,” said Anneka Kumli, one of the founders of the company. Daniel Haarburger is the other founder.

“The fact that COVID is so prevalent and we don’t seem to be seeing a break in that [is causing] campaigns to rely on digital and television advertising to get with voters,” she said.

Vote Mask literature suggests that what people wear and say can have an effect on people. Vote Masks, with a simple “Vote” message in white lettering on a blue mask, will be seen by an average of 2,000 people between now and the election.

Kumli said that the organization’s primary goal at the outset is to get masks into the hands of people who need them most — those in areas hard-hit by the virus and those facing the highest barriers to voting, especially in areas with voter suppression or where mail voting will not be permitted.

The organization launched a Kickstarter campaign Wednesday and had $3,351 raised as of Thursday morning. Money from the campaign will fund creation and distribution of masks at no charge to areas of greatest need, she said. People can also buy masks for themselves, their families or for organizations at a price of $1.25, well under the price of many commercial masks. 

Haarburger said that the masks are geared toward empowerment. “These masks can be a powerful visual reminder that every voice counts,” he said.

The masks are made of double-ply material and are not medical grade but similar to masks that most consumers and business operators wear.

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