This article is part of a series of interviews conducted by LIM students with winners of the Accessories Council's 2020 Design Excellence Awards (DEA). Students are enrolled in Fashion Merchandising Professor Andrea Kennedy's Honors Introduction to the Fashion Business class.
Founder Eric Zuckerman came up with this idea when he saw how frontline workers were struggling during the pandemic and he wanted to provide them with something that will ease their comfort. He quickly turned his manufacturing company into a producer of these comfort-is-key PPE headbands, as a way to give back to his community. As the headbands began to catch on, he decided to make them available to the public, with a promise to make a donation for each headband sold. From then on, Comforband has grown and provides a comfortable solution to hundreds of customers throughout the country. Here's what else we were able to learn about Comforband.
Kendra: Congratulations on winning a Design Excellence Award for the Comforband! We would love to know, how did you come up with the idea?
Zuckerman: The main goal of the Comforband is to help with pain caused by masks behind the ears for essential workers. I saw a nurse wearing a headband with buttons sewn on in a hospital in Switzerland about five years ago. When the pandemic hit hard in the U.S., I remembered that nurse’s headband and adapted that idea into Comforband.
Kendra: Do you think Comforband will encourage more people to wear masks?
Zuckerman: The objective of the Comforband is to provide more comfort for people who are already wearing their masks, not necessarily to persuade those who are not on board to do so.
Kendra: What sets apart the Comforband from a regular mask clip?
Zuckerman: The Comforband is all about comfort without any pain behind the ears. It is also good for helping those who wear hearing aids. There's less pressure and discomfort on the person’s ear at any time.
Emma: Are you planning on introducing any other Comforband designs, styles, or sizes?
Zuckerman: Yes! We are planning on introducing our winter line soon. This line would include fuzzy headbands to keep people warm during the cold winter months.
Emma: Your mission of donating to front-line workers is so impressive. Are all the workers in the U.S.? Any certain cities or particular communities? Are you considering donating to any additional cities, communities or countries?
Zuckerman: we’ve donated across the United States, including our local community. We make a donation with each mask that is sold and have donated to medical facilities, higher education and children charities.
Emma: Can you please tell us about your background and how that led you to start Comforband?
Zuckerman: I am an owner of Pac Team Group, a global design and manufacturing company for a retail environment company. When retailers shut down due to the covid outbreak, we were facing economic hardships as well. This is when we decided to use our resources for the procurement and production of various protective equipment, including Comforband. This way, we were able to stay open, keep our employees working, and help the community. It was easy for us to make the switch because of what the plant was already doing.
Gabriella: What was it like winning a Design Excellence Award for an essential, yet came-on-to-the-scene-so-fast, product?
Zuckerman: It was interesting for me to be on the receiving end of the award, because I had been on the Accessories Council for years. I’ve had clients win before, so it was exciting for me to now be winning one.
Gabriella: How does it feel to have made such a positive impact on essential workers and kids as well?
Zuckerman: I don't really see it that way. The essential workers are the ones making the impact. This is just a small item to hopefully make them a bit more comfortable.
Gabriella: What advice would you give to students who want to be in either fashion, accessories, or other businesses?
Zuckerman: Keep doing what you’re doing now. Continue interviewing and speaking with people you meet in the industry whenever you get the opportunity, as networking is important.
Stay focused and don't be everything to everyone.
With all the uncertainty surrounding the Coronavirus pandemic, it is unknown how long we’ll be wearing masks. Wearing a mask everywhere we go is our new normal for now, and Comforband, whose sole purpose is helping people and giving back to our communities, is something that makes us smile, even with our masks on during this time.