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Rothy’s Suspends Purchase-to-Donate Masks Initiative, Apologizes for ‘Misstep’

Rothy’s has issued an apology to consumers after receiving some pushback for launching a “purchase to donate” face mask initiative.

Yesterday, the sustainability-focused footwear brand rolled out a program where five masks were donated for every product sold on its site. Though the company says it “had the best intentions at heart,” it said the “purchase to donate” component was a “misstep” and has been removed.

“Rothy’s is made up of a small group of people doing our best to support essential workers while also keeping our brand in business. While we normally pride ourselves on moving quickly, it recently led to a misstep — and we’re sorry about that,” the company wrote in a note to consumers.

In a statement to FN, Rothy’s senior vice president of marketing Elie Donahue explained that Rothy’s is now working to source 100,000 nonmedical masks for a bulk donation, which will not be tied to sales.

“Yesterday we introduced a program to donate nonmedical masks with every item purchased on Rothy’s. We’re moving fast and trying hard to make the best decisions possible during this pandemic and quickly realized that this wasn’t the right approach,” Donahue said. “Our team is hustling to keep our brand in business while doing our part to combat this crisis and working to do better every day.”

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The bulk mask donation comes in addition to a $20,000 donation made by Rothy’s to Direct Relief, with funds going to provide protective masks, exam gloves and isolation gowns to health-care organizations in the United States. Additionally, the eco-friendly label has dedicated a third of its factory space to mask production and is working to create washable, knit-to-shape face masks, which it says will be available soon.

Since mid-March, Rothy’s retail outposts have been closed due to the coronavirus outbreak. The company is also asking corporate employees to work from home. The label’s e-commerce business remains open.

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