Heartbreak was echoing throughout the mountains of Silverthorne, Colorado, in February of 2011. Lanny Goldwasser’s close friend was reeling from a recent breakup. But from the rubble of a broken heart something beautiful was built; Phunkshun Wear, an eco-friendly facemask manufacturer dead set on keeping things weird and fun.
It started with an idea and a Walmart-bought sewing machine. In Goldwasser’s spare bedroom, he and the Breakup Kid started making facemasks on a whim and as a means of love loss distraction. They sold them out of their cubbies in the Copper Mountain ski school locker room, where they both instructed. Word got out quickly about the high performing, funky patterned facemasks. Ski schoolers from other mountains called in orders, then their clients followed suit. And all of a sudden Goldwasser had a feverish demand for a product he never intended to be more than a hobby. On March 21, 2011, Phunkshun Wear incorporated.
“I drove around Summit County trying to sell the masks to shops,” Goldwasser recalls. “Our first client was a shop at Arapahoe Basin. They bought 20 masks only because we were made locally.” Goldwasser took a liking to the shop’s assistant manager. The same day Phunkshun landed their first retailer, Goldwasser popped the question. They were married a few years ago. “That was my most successful sale in the history of the company,” he kids.
From inception, Phunkshun Wear embarked to walk the line between state-of-the-art materials and style. The founders noticed that facemasks were made with either funky style or high-tech fabrics, but not both. Phunkshun wanted to bridge the gap. “We stand for the balance between top end materials and performance, while incorporating fun designs and graphics,” says Goldwasser. Phunkshun masks are made with moisture wicking DWR treated materials, are porous for breathability, provide UPF 50-plus protection, and are odor resistant. And designs range from hyper-colored day glow explosions to the Colorado map to one-of-a-kind customs.
Along with keeping things techy and hip, Phunkshun has solidified itself as a leader within the outdoor industry. They only source American-made materials and build all products in-house at their facility in Boulder, Colorado. The entire Phunkshun product line is focused on sustainability. They only uses REPREVE, textile fiber and yarn made from recycled water bottles. Production of REPREVE yarn emits fewer greenhouse gases because they do not use typical environmentally hazardous garment production resources like petroleum. For every pound of REPREVE yarn produced, 50,000 BTU’s are conserved. And to date, REPREVE has recycled 630-million plastic bottles into yarn. Materials are shipped to Phunkshun’s green certified manufacturing facility where product is made completely waste free.
This year Punkshun has partnered with Protect Our Winters. They created a series of products with a custom POW design and all profits from the sales of those masks will go to POW, every single penny. They also continue to donate 5-cents from every sale to the High Fives Foundation. Goldwasser is proud of what his “hobby project” has achieved, and job creation is at the top of his list. “Creating manufacturing jobs in the U.S. is a big deal for me,” he says. “It makes me very proud every time we hire another production employee. We create jobs, pay above average wages, and cover our employees’ insurance in full. We want to be the best employer possible”
“Making the masks started out of necessity for ourselves” says Goldwasser. “It started by mistake. There was no plan to become a company and make Phunkshun what it is today. But I’m damn happy we did. We have very strong, extreme goals. And we’re going to keep pushing.”
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