Martí Làzaro and his family run a small textile company in Pineda de Mar. Sporty specialised in customising sportswear “for clubs, groups, events and companies” until March this year, when the Covid-19 pandemic forced the population into lockdown. “Sports events have been one of the most affected sectors, because they were cancelled one after another and with them the possibility that we could sell our products,” laments Lazaro. Faced with a dark future and anticipating that the situation would not be ending any time soon, the Làzaro family asked themselves how they might address the new professional challenges facing them.
“After Sant Jordi we saw the possibility to manufacture custom masks and the idea pleased many of our customers and distributors, who thought it could work,” says the young businessman. What was supposed to be an alternative and timely solution has become Sporty’s star product in recent months. “We wanted to do it right, using top quality products and approved filters. Our masks have three layers: one of technical fabric, the inner layer with the filter and a third layer of polyester with antibacterial treatment,” he says. The masks come with a kit that includes two filters and an adjustable elastic band to hold it in place.
Once product design was finished – they now have four models – the product was launched onto the market in May. The sales figures really surprised the family. “At one point, 100% of production time was spent on masks and the six of us didn’t have enough time in the day to meet orders,” he notes, adding that despite the change in product, there was no need to change the machines they use. “We have all the production processes inside the factory and we did have to expand from one to three workshops to be able to meet all the demand,” he says, before stating that “deciding to make masks saved the factory, otherwise we might not have had a future.” Although it was the same customers who placed the initial orders, opening up to the mask market has allowed the company to expand to new sectors “which will come in handy when we have to present new products, because our network of contacts has become bigger.”
Martí recalls that after a summer where “we only made masks”, autumn has seen the revived production of sportswear. “Some clubs and schools have bought equipment for the new season and we’ve been able to recover some production, but the difference is still abysmal and masks make up 80% of everything we do right now.” There was a point where Sporty was making a thousand masks a day. “Now the average is between 500 and 700,” says Martí, who is moderately optimistic about the future. “The masks will continue until year’s end for sure and then we’ll see how everything evolves, whether there’s a vaccine and some normality returns... I’m sure some sporting events won’t return, but we hope that new ones will emerge,” he says.