A mask with a smile: West Seattle entrepreneur launches FriendlyFace

(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).

15 Replies to "A mask with a smile: West Seattle entrepreneur launches FriendlyFace"

  • bolo November 27, 2020 (8:05 pm)


  • Mike B November 27, 2020 (8:20 pm)

    No thanks. Looks really creepy. How about just nice happy colors and patterns? Why is called a laundry bag?

    • WSB November 27, 2020 (8:40 pm)

      What else would you call a laundry bag? It’s a small bag you can wash your mask in so it doesn’t get tangled up in the rest of your laundry. (We lose masks, socks, glasses-cleaning cloths that way all the time …)

    • JES November 28, 2020 (8:12 am)

      If you think it’s creepy and you don’t want one is it really necessary to comment?

  • Kate November 27, 2020 (9:27 pm)

    So good! I love to see people getting crafty and clever during down times. Great idea Ash! Always nice to give people on the front lines a good chuckle, too. Sending good vibes your way to you and your crew.

  • JJ November 27, 2020 (10:41 pm)

    Fun! This would be a good mask for a post-pandemic scrapbook.

    • Jodie W. November 28, 2020 (8:56 am)

      Yes sure. We’ll get through this stronger!!!

  • Wendell November 28, 2020 (8:24 am)

    I’m thinking a good Christmas surprise for my wife, is me showing up as George Clooney..

  • WiseWoman November 28, 2020 (8:37 am)

    Cool 😎 #MakeMillions

  • Jodie W. November 28, 2020 (8:58 am)

    Great ideal.

  • Jack Dupp November 28, 2020 (9:34 am)

    Brilliant idea!

  • 🌻 November 28, 2020 (10:28 am)

    Fun idea!

    I hope to see a bunch of these creepy masks around WS ;)

  • Ash from FriendlyFace November 28, 2020 (1:51 pm)

    Hey all, this is Ash, one of the founders.To all of the folks who say this is “creepy“ – I totally get it!   As a sci-fi aficionado I’m well aware of the uncanny valley effect of a mask in someone’s likeness.   Like I said, we started this as a joke or even a gag, but it drew a strong reaction (both positive and negative), and strong reactions usually are a good sign.Since we’ve launched we realize that the idea is bigger than we expected.   People who’ve actually got their mask seem to like it.https://www.facebook.com/1359257111/posts/10225387961230198/https://www.instagram.com/p/CHTeKYEDlVA/https://twitter.com/alivelshi/status/1329514183537418241?s=21We’ve had school teachers, bus drivers, people who work in nursing homes, brides who are having upcoming weddings, small businesses, people doing this at a reunion with a “family crest”, real estate agents, news anchors, celebs, and parents buying them for their kids.We’re going to be wearing masks for a while – we might as well have fun with them!   Thanks to all of the supporters — And to the haters, thanks anyway – Please feel free to share your disconcerting feelings far and wide on social media  ;-) 

    • 🌻 November 28, 2020 (3:43 pm)

      Just to be clear, I’m a supporter and not a hater!

      Maybe my tone didn’t come through, but my comment about these being creepy was meant in jest to the haters comment, and I hope others who think these are fun aren’t discouraged!

      I already ordered mine, so see you with our friendly face masks at Thriftway soon :) 

      And, thanks Ash, for creating something light and uplifting during this trying time!

  • Brian November 28, 2020 (11:55 pm)

    I think it’s 100% okay to point out that this kind of thing is creepy and weird, even if you support masks as a health standard in keeping this pandemic under control.It’s completely alright to acknowledge that reality is increasingly foreign to us in shocking and new inventive ways every day. To deny us the ability to recognize those transgressions seems inhumane.      

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