Dear VIDA Community,
On request of my VIDA team, I wanted to share with you a personal post I wrote this past Sunday on my private Facebook account.
The response I received from my friends, my family, our artists, and our customers who are connected with me on Facebook – from all over the world – was overwhelming, beautiful, and deeply touching. You shared your personal stories with me – your stories of staying strong for your loved ones, of fears of not having the medical care you may need, of frustrating and scary #FalseNegatives, of not being able to hug your loved ones, of almost losing your company, of almost losing a loved one…
We are all going through so much. Let’s not do it alone. We have so many stories to share. Today, I am extending my circle of trust and sharing mine.
The truth is – as difficult and surreal as this is, we are living the moment that will be written in history books. Let’s come together to see what history we can and want to make together. Controlling what we can. One day at a time.
Wishing you all the best of health. We are #BetterTogether.
Founder & CEO / VIDA
Personal Facebook Post / Sunday, April 12, 2020
It’s hard to put in words what these last 15 days have felt like. But I wanted to give it a try.
I started to experience Covid symptoms on March 29. By next morning, I was running a fever and felt tightness and shortness of breath. I spent the next few days working daytime on VIDA and making masks at home and learning about PPEs and N95s, what’s causing the global shortage, and the effectiveness of #Masks4all – late into the nights.
Over the next few days, VIDA factories begin to shut down in the US, Turkey, Pakistan and India, and we look for the needle in the haystack to find a partner that could produce high quality protective masks – made available immediately – at an affordable price. I feel convinced the most helpful thing I can do with my company right now is to help #FlattenTheCurve. 1) Shelter in Place, 2) Testing, 3) Contact Tracing, and 4) Masks. This is what we need.
Meanwhile my symptoms worsen. I am high-risk. I get a drive-through test done on April 1st, and the day we launch our Protective Masks, Fri, April 3rd, I get my test results back as Negative, followed by a doctor’s appointment where my doctor shares that 30% to 48% of negative results are #FalseNegatives. My doctor says, I have Covid. I move upstairs to quarantine from my family. And focus my efforts on getting Masks out to everyone who needs them. I am worried about this false negative rate – I wouldn’t make business decisions based on up to 48% erroneous data – how can we make public health decisions that impact life and death with this level of unreliability?
Through all this, Cimpress (our majority shareholder and investor) has been hit hard by Covid and they tell us they need to sell their stake in VIDA. (Note, Cimpress had bought out all our previous investors, including Google Ventures and Y Combinator, two years ago, and is the only outside investor in VIDA). There are no buyers in this environment and we have no reason to sell VIDA, so we offer to buy Cimpress out. We’re in the thick of tough negotiations.
On Fri, April 10th, the day we launch our Family Packs for VIDA Masks (https://shopvida.com/products/protective-mask) and sell more units than we’ve ever done in a day, we close the deal with Cimpress and buy them out fully. VIDA is now 100% owned by the VIDA team and myself. I spend the rest of the day calling up local nonprofits working to provide food, shelter, and essential services to our most at-risk communities through the pandemic and see how we can direct our efforts to help them. And I end the night with a FaceTime sushi dinner with the fam. I miss my kids. I miss my husband. I miss seeing my parents.
Today is Day 10 of quarantine and Day 14 of fevers and mild symptoms. I feel quite OK. My symptoms are very manageable. I do feel spent by the evening with fatigue. But my kiddos, every member of my family, my mighty VIDA team and community, and your response to what we’re trying to do, and where we’re trying to make a difference, gives me the biggest energy boost – every day. You’re my iron, my zinc, my Vitamin C!
I share this … because there’s strength in sharing, there’s strength in community. Because your support has meant a lot to me, and I want you to know that. Because I want you to share with me and I want to be there for you. Because we truly are #BetterTogether.