Achoo! In the airplane, the bus or around the new baby, it is the sound of germs spraying out of the mouths of the sick onto innocent bystanders.
In most cases, there are no tissues or masks in sight; no means of protection.
Jody Vitelli, CEO and founder of Tutem Mask, says “she felt passionate and indignant about the lack of movement to change this, so she took matters into her own hands.
As she explains, “beginning in 2012, I set out on a mission to develop and manufacture a fun-looking mask that would diminish the stigma behind wearing it.”
The brand name “Tutem” is formed from the Greek Tutis- meaning “for our safety”.
Having no history in business, she says her first year was filled with the exploration of possibilities.
She was sure of one thing, the masks would be made domestically.
“I also wanted my product to be shipped and packaged by people who needed the work and could do the work,” Vitelli states.
With the creation of jobs domestically in mind, Vitelli decided to manufacture and ship Tutem Masks from the Work Activity Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Vitelli says the Tutem Masks have a patented design: made with polypropylene with a light-weight non-woven interior.
What makes the design of these masks exceptional is that, in addition to the nosepiece, there is a second part that inhibits the mask from touching a user’s mouth.”
This piece limits the “breathing into a paper bag” effect that many masks create for the user.” She claims.
An added plus according to Vitelli, “this patented design is created to be worn for long periods of time with maximum breathability.”
What is the value proposition of Tutem?
According to Vitelli, passion to fashionably protect oneself from being susceptible to the cold and flu virus is what sets her business model apart.
“Although purchasing a box of surgical masks may be more economical, Tutem masks are more logical. These masks come in eleven different designs for people of all different walks of life,” she adds.
Another benefit according to Vitelli, “Tutem masks are also competitive in that each mask is individually wrapped, similar to a Band-Aid, so that there is no risk of cross-contamination. Tutem Masks are each packaged with an all-natural Cleanwell sanitizer wipe.”
Another perk, for the ladies, is that this mask will not blot lipstick: thanks to the patented design.
When asked about future plans, Vitelli shared, “The biggest thing would be the development of children’s masks with animal prints. Another plan would be to work on ways to customize the masks, more readily and easily, for high schools, colleges and businesses to be used as marketing tools.”
“Some advice I would give to a beginning entrepreneur would be to do a lot of research and have conversations with everyone that you can; even if they do not seem relevant today. Collect as many business cards as possible and get out of your comfort zone,” Vitelli states, “Just narrow in and focus on who your customer is.”