Mask-eteers on a mission to ensure everyone has access to affordable, quality masks
As mask wearing became a part of Singaporeans’ daily life during the Covid-19 pandemic, every household rushed to stock up. Shops ran out of supplies and prices skyrocketed.
Mr Daniel Chui, 54, saw the massive demand for masks not just as a business opportunity, but also as a chance to help fellow Singaporeans get access to affordable and quality masks.
In March last year, Mr Chui, together with his friends, set up the company The Wellness Fellows to make surgical masks under the brand and surgical mask factory, The Mask Fellows.
Despite not having any medical background, the managing director believed he and his partners, branding specialist Jingle Chen and engineer S.T. Chong, could make the idea work. Instead, Mr Chui leveraged his experience from his 25 years working in the cruise ship and tourism industries.
“Elon Musk had no car-building or space technology experience, but his companies Tesla and SpaceX are legendary,” he says. “Most times, it is not the experience, but the ‘Let’s do it’ spirit and willingness to take calculated risks that make it work.”
Back to the books
Naturally, a steep learning curve lay ahead of them. Add to that the urgency of the situation as the pandemic showed no signs of abating.
Mr Chui says that while each person in the team had his own expertise in running a business, it was also essential that they learnt the medical and technical know-how to produce masks.
What followed was hard work and a lot of research. Eventually, the team was given a manufacturing licence from the Health Sciences Authority to develop affordable, quality masks, with ISO 13485 certification by the SGS, that are produced in ISO 7-certified cleanrooms.
As at December last year, The Mask Fellows has manufactured three million masks. They are distributed online through the company’s website, and shopping platforms such as Shopee and Lazada.
“We are reaching out to major supermarkets and pharmacies, and other establishments, to sell our masks. We are also preparing to distribute the masks to Canada, the United States and Europe, as soon as we get certification and licensing from these territories,” says Mr Chui.
Apart from helping Singaporeans protect themselves, The Mask Fellows also donates a portion of its sales to non-profit organisation Extra•Ordinary People, which supports individuals with special needs. “When we are more able, we would like to reach out to more social missions,” says Mr Chui.
An ACE leader
Mr Chui’s leadership, which he describes as “decisive, consultative and strategic”, has been a contributing factor to The Mask Fellow’s success. He sees good leadership as the “single critical ingredient that envelops and encompasses management, and establishes the foundation and direction to develop and nurture a business”.
His leadership strategy is represented by these three letters: ACE — taking Action on a problem, Communicating with experts and people concerned, and practising Empathy towards the community.
The Mask Fellows is looking to open its factory, located in Chai Chee Lane, for educational tours, with the aim of educating the public on how to choose the right mask to protect against viruses.
Despite being a new company, The Wellness Fellows was recognised as an Honouree in the Brands For Good 2020 awards, under the Leadership For Good category.
“It’s a significant encouragement to our team and it recognises what we are doing, our challenges and how we overcame them in a short period of time,” says Mr Chui.
“More importantly, the award highlights the fact that any company and individual must be ready to be nimble, flexible, and be able to transform and adapt to an ever-changing landscape.”