The story behind the NYR custom masks

Our Story
July 21, 2020
LDM Radio podcast
August 6, 2020

On July 28th, the Rangers tweeted out some photos of Brendan Lemieux, Igor Shesterkin, Fillip Chytil and Ryan Strome wearing a mask with their jersey number on it.

Fans loved them and some even asked where to get them. Well, we have the answer for you, as Altrunite is the team behind these masks. We are here share with you how a simple gesture turned into something bigger.



How it started

A few months ago, when the world went on lock down, the idea to make custom masks was a spontaneous suggestion by Tolik Borts. Starting out just making a handful of masks for friends and family, it quickly grew into something bigger.

Now a team of five, they include two people hand-stitching the masks, a graphic designer and a PR person who reaches out to hospitals, schools and more. We are currently working on masks for the Garden of Dreams and Smilezone foundation through Adam Graves.

“Our mission, like our masks, is a symbol of the unselfish act to protect others. Some may not know that wearing a mask is not necessarily to protect themselves, but rather others around them if in case they are with, or without knowledge get infected with this terrible virus“.

In the last 3 months, we have supplied masks to over 900 individuals including former Rangers Ron Duguay, Ron Greschner, Darius Kasparaitis, Aaron Asham, Matt Barnaby, and Adam Graves among others.

“Our Face Masks for Fans project began at the start of the corona virus pandemic in early March 2020. When masks were an absolute necessity, but products were scarce, we teamed up with professional seamstresses working at mom-and-pop tailor shops in Brooklyn, NY. We decided to utilize our own New York Rangers t-shirts directly from our own closet collections and cultivate a mask that can both compliment a purpose of protection and fashion. We displayed our masks on a wide variety of social media platforms, selling them to fans and investing all our profits into more materials, and purchasing more shirts online.”

Every shirt and jersey is washed, sanitized, and ironed. Every mask is double layered, and then a third thin layer is added for a filter pocket. They include a 5-layer PM2.5 activated charcoal filter, which further provides a level or protection.

Equipping the New York Rangers

Through a mutual connection, we were put in touch with an individual in the Rangers organization and that’s where it took off. “We wanted to do something for the team, give back to the team that brought us so much joy over the years“.

Previously, we had manufactured masks for the coaching staff, and now we were looking to make more for the players. The reason we went with jersey numbers is because Altrunite wanted to give the players something personal. Instead of the regular requested masks we made out of cloth donated to them, we decided to do something different. We used jerseys for the fabric and give the players a personal mask that makes them easily recognizable even when wearing a mask.

After finishing the final masks, we packaged them in personalized pouches with a card addressed to every player. “At the training facility, when the masks were dropped off, we were surprised by the attention to detail with the pouches and a handwritten card inside. We wondered if they just expected us to hand over a plastic bag with a bunch of masks“, about the reaction of the Rangers

.

After the Rangers arrived in Toronto, the masks were distributed, and within a day, photos popped up of the masks being worn. When asked about those photos, by social media followers, friends and family, Altrunite had only one response. “We were humbled and stunned when we saw those photos. It felt like an accomplishment we never thought we’d reach. We always, as a fans, asked for autographs, and photos, and t-shirts but now we were able to give something back. In one way or form or another, we were able to impact their lives“.

This whole experience has made quite the impression on the Altrunite crew and it has given us the motivation to keep going.

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