When artist and entrepreneur Zen Player first visited Bali in 1996, he fell in love with its people and their vibrant creativity. Inspired by this spirit, he started a business there, designing clothing and carry-packs with traditional batik and ikat woven fabrics. Ten years later, he partnered with his good friend and angel investor, Roger Davis, to create the world’s first organic fashion facemask to help tourists and expats look cool and be protected from Bali’s pervasive pollution. The mask was fitted with a revolutionary Nanotechnology filter that Zen sourced in New Zealand, where he was raised and lives today.
Originally hand-made with organic cotton, modal, bamboo and other fabrics, the masks were instantly popular with the “yoga jet-set crowd,” known for riding scooters, which exposed them to exhaust, smoke, dust, and odors. But it took the eruption of Mt. Agung in 2017 sending a plume of toxic silica ash over Bali, and subsequent choking forest fires in Australia and California, to prove the mask’s effectiveness.
As the need for a technically effective, proven, comfortable, and stylish mask became more clear, Zen worked tirelessly with his partners in Bali to grow the business, expand their mask product range. Increasingly, they scaled production to meet the growing demand caused by air pollution in Indonesia and around the world. That imperative drove the business until people around the world became increasingly aware of the need to protect themselves from invisible viruses. Zen realized he had a very practical solution to provide a much safer environment for people to live and work.
He knew his operation in Bali wasn't capable of producing the vast numbers of masks that were being requested – if not demanded – on a daily basis, so Zen reached out to another longtime friend, Jason Seeber, to help expand the business. Jason, who lived in the Bay area, happened to be vacationing in Bali at the time and coincidentally had been detained in Wu Han while transferring flights, totally unaware of the dire events unfolding there. In speaking with Zen, Jason also saw it as a way to “serve humanity.” With that, he joined with Zen, and they committed to mass produce the best, most effective, and stylish mask on the market.
Zen followed Jason back to California in early February as the deadly virus spread into Italy and greater Europe. Together with Roger they invited two other trusted former colleagues, Christapher C. Cogswell and Keith N. Anderson – both seasoned entrepreneurs with crucial, complimentary skills and successful track records – to join their bid to secure investment in launching a bold new company, HALOLIFE.
Keith was originally brought on as CFO originally to specifically drive the fundraising efforts. He was able to secure an investment from a long time friend, Bill Allen, co-owner of i-team Global www.i-teamglobal.com. The I stands for “Inquire - Inspire – Innovate” and TEAM stands for – “Together Everybody Achieves More”. Keith was later made CEO to steer the company in launching commercially with the new ShopifyPlus eCommerce platform being developed with the funding.
Over the course of several weeks, and working around the clock, the entrepreneurial “Founding Five'' refined the technologically superior reusable mask for mass production, engaged an ethical manufacturer in China (being the most expedient path to market), and started shipping it's now highly successful HALOmask in mid June 2020. In addition to these foundational steps, the partners made a decision that would forever shape the life of the company: it would have a social-driven mission, and for every mask order, the company would donate one mask to a relevant charity, such as one supporting the homeless, frontline workers, and others in need.
“It felt like we were building the rocket ship as it was lifting off!” said Zen, as the team grew and worked remotely across five time zones, under crushing pressure and delays caused by the crisis. Through sheer determination, close cooperation, deep, wide-ranging experience, nimble planning and constant interaction, Team HALO pushed through all resistance and started selling masks through its online store (www.halolife.io), while proactively donating and distributing thousands of HALOmasks through various non-profit organizations and homeless charities to higher risk and less fortunate community members.
The HALOLIFE team continues to work around the clock, not only to support our customers with the world’s most effective, protective, comfortable, breathable and stylish face masks, but also to constantly innovate new styles, features, ranges and (in 2021) product extensions beyond masks that support the health and wellbeing of men, women and children across America and worldwide, as we continue to navigate through uncertain and changing times.