The Story Behind the Mask
2020’s been an incredible year of challenge and adaptation for everyone. At Rokform, we’ve had to innovate on our operations model since the beginning of the year. In addition to our teams’ move to fully working remotely, fulfilling orders safely, and launching new products, we’ve also established new partnerships. We are excited to introduce our newest partnership with Kanji From The People, a company that’s met this extraordinary moment by making fabric face masks while also working to empower women in Zambia in the process.
Kanji From The People’s Beginnings
The family business started as a small retail shop in the town of Ndola, Zambia back in the 1950s. As a quick geography refresher, the Republic of Zambia is located in Southern Africa; its country neighbors include Angola, the DRC (Congo), Tanzania, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe. The business has stayed in the Kanji family across three generations and, in the last thirty years, it has expanded into manufacturing textiles and sourcing handmade products by local artisans.
When the Coronavirus pandemic first started taking hold around the globe, Kanji From The People saw the growing need for reusable face masks. Medical professionals faced a shortage of medical-grade disposable masks as everyday people were quickly trying to secure masks for personal use. Kanji stepped up to fill the demand for more reusable, non-medical face masks.
Making cotton face masks is a new endeavor for most businesses, and the same can be said for Kanji From The People. But, behind every face mask Kanji produces is years of experience in the industry.
Given Kanji’s existing relationships within the local community, it proved relatively easy to pivot the business and begin making masks. Chuni Kanji Patel worked from Ndola with local suppliers to source the traditional chitenge prints for masks while his digital-savvy grandchildren worked from California to get the online storefront operational. A desire to give back was at the heart of the enterprise from the start.
What started as a project that connected a grandfather in Africa to his grandkids thousands of miles away, has grown into Kanji From The People – a for-profit business with a social purpose.
In August, Mr. Chuni Patel sadly passed away after contracting coronavirus. His family, who he worked with closely to bring this beautiful project to life, were both heartbroken and devastated. In light of his passing, his family envisions Kanji From The People as an opportunity to not only continue his legacy of helping those in need, but to extend it. They have set ambitious impact goals that will positively impact people in Zambia and the United States.
Kanji From The People’s commitment to giving back
Kanji From The People approaches impact with a multi-thronged approach.
Kanji From The People x Rokform
When Rokform first learned of the incredible work Kanji From The People was doing, we knew we wanted to get involved.
From a product perspective, we love that we’re able to bring such unique masks to our customers in our signature colors. Since the masks also have the Rokform logo, it’s a great way to show off some Rokform pride!
In addition and as any Rokform customer knows, our company is built around products with great design and lasting quality that improve peoples’ lives. It’s clear that using face masks goes a long way in helping to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, protect ourselves, and protect the people around us. With our partnership with Kanji, we are hoping to make mask-purchasing more easy and accessible. If you are buying a new Rokform phone case or mount, you can now add a reusable Rokform face mask to your order in the click of a button.
From a social impact perspective, we are stoked to be partnering with a company that’s giving back. Kanji’s mission to empower local Zambian women through job creation, donate masks to those in need, and support nonprofit causes is incredible. We’re delighted to share their story and carry their products in our store.
Reusable face masks with Rokform flair
Face mask designs vary from company to company, but we’re convinced Kanji’s masks feature everything important to consider when choosing a reusable face mask. The masks are an incredible value at just $8.99 per mask.
- ADJUSTABLE. Use the adjustable ear loops with elastic bands to find the perfect fit.
- REUSABLE. Wash and use over and over.
- BREATHABLE. Made with a double layer cotton blend which allows for easy breathability.
- WASHABLE. Can be machine-washed at 140°F water then air dried.
- HAND-SEWN. Hand-sewn by women artisans in Zambia.
- SUSTAINABLE. Use of reusable cloth masks helps to cut down on landfill waste.
- UNIQUE. Stand out from the crowd with a unique Chitenge print (coming soon!).
Learn more about chitenge, Zambia’s beautiful fabric
Chitenge (often spelled Kitenge), is a fabric that’s heavily used in many parts of the African continent, including Zambia, where Kanji From The People’s artisans live. The chitenge prints are very colorful and versatile; the fabric is most often used in clothes, headwraps, baby slings, and blankets. And now, with the pandemic calling for reusable face masks, Kanji is taking beautiful chitenge fabric and sewing it into stunning face masks. Given the traditional chitenge prints used to create many of the masks, every mask has its own unique design.
Shop Kanji x Rokform face masks
If you want to be part of this amazing business story, it’s easy – just add face masks to your cart while you’re shopping for Rokform goods. For now, customers have one color option available, Rokform’s signature charcoal grey. Every mask will have a woven Rokform logo on the bottom corner of the mask. Thanks to the adjustable straps, these face masks are one size fits all.
Not a mask fan, but I wear this particular mask without hesitation. Thanks again Rokform for everything you do for Sara B. Trending on Lex and Terry!!!
The Kanji mask is the best so far. Comfortable and fashionable. You definitely feel the quality
I love this mask as an emergency mask while out and around.