(Promotional video for FriendlyFace)
We’ve all gotten used to wearing masks. Or – have we? Do you miss seeing people’s smiles?
A West Seattle entrepreneur is trying to fix that with FriendlyFace. It’s a custom-made mask, based on your photo, so your face can be covered by … your face.
“I made this initially as a joke to make my kids laugh — Just put a picture of myself on a mask. It was, of course, hilarious, but I got a ton of interest from other randoms who approached me at the hardware store or the grocery store asking where I got it. I decided to turn it into a project,” explains FriendlyFace’s Ash Bhoopathy. He is a digital product designer and serial entrepreneur, so – why not?
FriendlyFace isn’t the only company to offer a selfie mask, but Ash’s value proposition incorporates a few extras. The masks come with a laundry bag and activated charcoal filters. And the app you can use to order yours can make them extra-true-to-life, though it’s not required that you use the app: “About half of our orders come from the iOS app, and the other half come from the web. The iOS app makes the process of alignment, lighting, and measurement very easy. For those who don’t have an iPhone X or newer, they can place the order from FriendlyFace.com. We have a team of people who can retouch people’s faces – We got this after some excited user feedback we heard a few times (‘I don’t need to wear makeup anymore, I can just do it once and get my pic photoshopped’).”
FriendlyFace’s West Seattle cred is more than just the founder’s residence. Ash explains, “All printing and pressing is done here in West Seattle. Currently we’re working out of a proverbial startup ‘garage.’ For masks, we source from a company in Blaine (northwestern WA). For gaiters, we source fabric from a mill on the East Coast, and our cut and sew team is based in West Seattle.” They have the capacity to produce about 2,000 a day.
The mask can draw more than smiles. We asked Ash about unusual reactions: “The first time I wore one of my gaiters in public, a manager from Costco came running from the back to scold me for not wearing a mask. When they got closer, he started cracking up after realizing that it was actually a face covering. That first weekend I wore it out, 48 people asked me where I got my mask and were super surprised to learn that the photo was actually my face. It still doesn’t register to many people that with computational photography, digital printing technology, that personalized products like these face masks are possible.”
Ash hopes to expand: “Beyond masks, our vision is to create a brand and products that embody happiness, laughter, and joy. Seeing people smile and laugh again is a huge thing for us and, we think, many people.”
P.S. They have a Black Friday promo going – buy 2, get 1 free, with code BLACKFRIDAY – and a program for employers to buy masks for their employees (explained in this video).