On Feb. 16, Marissa and Adam Goldstein launched Rafi Nova, a company selling backpacks for adventure travelers. Sustainably sourced, using textiles woven by Hmong women in Vietnam paid at a fair-trade rate, the backpacks might have been a thing. But the pandemic hit and domestic and international travel ground to a halt.
“Nobody was even leaving their house, let alone buying a $230 travel pack,” says Ms. Goldstein, whose business is in Needham, Massachusetts. “We probably launched a travel fashion company at the worst time in history.”
With few sales and no money left, the couple decided they at least could put their Vietnamese factory partners to work making face masks, which they could donate to front-line workers in the United States. “It wasn’t a business opportunity,” Ms. Goldstein says. “It was out of a sense of service.”
Then family and friends started asking if they could buy some of