Just BREETHE

After struggling for 40 years with extreme joint pain, the inability to move comfortably, ever and a host of misdiagnosies, I finally had an answer. Ankylosing spondylitis (AS). An autoimmune type of arthritis and a chronic inflammatory disease that, over time, can cause some of the small bones in your spine (vertebrae), neck and even ribs to fuse.

There is no cure. Modern medicine has advanced to Biologics that will slow the process, ease pain and increase mobility for a more comfortable existence, but there is always a flip side.  Biologics lower your immune system, making it hard for the body to protect itself from TB, lung infections, the common cold and more.

I was an early adopter of the essential public space/ travelling accessory – the anti-airborne contagion face mask.

Back then it was just me & not everyone – so steamed up glasses & my own recycled coffee breath were even more annoying & awkward.

I thought back to an earlier ski trip to Switzerland and longed for the freedom of standing at the top of a slope, kitted for the extreme cold, and breathing normally. I really needed a mask that would do this for me.


Then COVID-19 struck…

The worldwide pandemic has taken away the stigma of wearing a mask.  Suddenly I was not the outsider.

Now was the time for invention, redesigning and improving the masks that could very well become an outfit accessory for a very long time. Lockdown gave me this opportunity.

Having spent 30 years in the construction industry, I knew nothing about materials, pattern making and sewing – But I knew about design. Structural design, that has to look good but fundamentally be functional, sound and perform over time.

The drive to engineer a solution to the problem that became everyone’s problem, resulted in a very structural approach to form & function. The analytical process of 60 + versions of pattern making, gave rise to both our Patent registration and more interestingly – an awareness of just how many other everyday items, are just not up to the job.

And so, we began the ongoing journey of ‘Making Things Better’

And thus the dual chamber mask was born. The concept was new and shiny. No mask anywhere offered the dual chamber.

Through helpful neighbours I was introduced to someone who runs a successful handbag manufacturing business in Cape Town. This started to open doors. I met people who could take my ideas and create basic patterns and produce proto-type masks.  As the designs became more complicated and refined, new people with different skills entered the picture.

I needed to produce an accurate pattern. I contacted the University of the Western Cape for referrals as they run a pattern making course. To my surprise I learned that there are not many pattern makers available. Luckily the lady did have the name of a colleague who she had worked with before and who is now running her own business.

This lady became an integral part of the final product.  At our first meeting she said that it would take about 3 meetings for the mask to be ready. Seventeen meetings later we are still perfecting our designs.

So what has taken so long?  Patterns were designed. Proto-type masks were made. I would take them home to my family and friends to try for size and comfort. I would not settle for anything but perfect. We would then make adjustments and repeat the process. We have over 70 proto-type masks sitting in the office…

Because of the constant changes I decided I had best learn to sew! I could then make the changes myself and take the adapted mask back to be refined and the patterns changed. Here I was, in my 40’s, learning to use a sewing machine and learning about different materials and how they work. It took me a whole day just to set up the sewing machine!

A year later (March 2021) I knew it was time to launch. The fruit of twelve months’ worth of work, with the input and effort of numerous people, needed to make its debut.

Working with a wonderful marketing expert, our logo, brand packaging, photo shoots and more all come together to give JUST BREETHE air.

Our selected materials keep with our ethos of sustainability and longevity of the planet.

Just Breethe

After struggling for 40 years with extreme joint pain, the inability to move comfortably, ever and a host of misdiagnosies, I finally had an answer. Ankylosing spondylitis (AS). An autoimmune type of arthritis and a chronic inflammatory disease that, over time, can cause some of the small bones in your spine (vertebrae), neck and even ribs to fuse.

There is no cure. Modern medicine has advanced to Biologics that will slow the process, ease pain and increase mobility for a more comfortable existence, but there is always a flip side.  Biologics lower your immune system, making it hard for the body to protect itself from TB, lung infections, the common cold and more.

I was an early adopter of the essential public space/ travelling accessory – the anti-airborne contagion face mask.

Back then it was just me & not everyone – so steamed up glasses & my own recycled coffee breath were even more annoying & awkward.

I thought back to an earlier ski trip to Switzerland and longed for the freedom of standing at the top of a slope, kitted for the extreme cold, and breathing normally. I really needed a mask that would do this for me.

Then COVID-19 struck…

The worldwide pandemic has taken away the stigma of wearing a mask.  Suddenly I was not the outsider.

Now was the time for invention, redesigning and improving the masks that could very well become an outfit accessory for a very long time. Lockdown gave me this opportunity.

Having spent 30 years in the construction industry, I knew nothing about materials, pattern making and sewing – But I knew about design. Structural design, that has to look good but fundamentally be functional, sound and perform over time.

The drive to engineer a solution to the problem that became everyone’s problem, resulted in a very structural approach to form & function. The analytical process of 60 + versions of pattern making, gave rise to both our Patent registration and more interestingly – an awareness of just how many other everyday items, are just not up to the job.

And so, we began the ongoing journey of ‘Making Things Better’ 

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