OTTAWA -- An Ottawa-based company that employs newcomers to Canada to produce Sports Hijabs and Sports Turbans has shifted production to face masks for healthy people to wear during the COVID-19 pandemic.

And after scaling up production capacity over the weekend to meet the high demand, Thawrih has a new stock of its “SportsMask” available for sale on its website today.

Thawrih is now producing a sustainable personal-use face mask for people looking for an additional level of protection while outside during the pandemic.  The SportsMask is made from a double-layer of organic and quick-dry materials, and is washable and reusable.

Thawrih spokesperson Su Mardelli tells CTV News Ottawa that when the company first started developing the “SportsMask” in late March, they estimated they would need about 20 masks a day.

At the end of last week, Mardelli says demand had grown to about 200 masks a day.

Thawrih has acquired additional material and doubled staffing levels to meet the demand for the “SportsMask.” Mardelli estimates they can now produce 200 masks a day for customers.

Filling the void for face masks

Thawrih founder and CEO Sarah Abood realized there was a need for face masks during a trip to California at the end of February. She wanted to buy a face mask to wear on the plane home, but couldn’t find one.

When she returned from the trip, Abood and the team at Thawrih determined the company could fill the void as the need for face masks increased.

“So with the help of Canadian newcomers and immigrants, we pooled our resources and in seven days created this unique mask,” said Abood, in a statement.

The “SportsMask” covers your nose and mouth, and loops over your ears to fit on your face.

“It can be worn by all people who are social-distancing but are in a situation that is necessary to leave the house and want that additional layer of protection,” said Abood.

The Thawrih website states the SportsMask is “an available option to support the COVID-19 pandemic by enabling healthy people to access a personal-use face mask option.”

The masks are made in Ottawa by newcomers to Canada. All the employees work at home, so there is no worries about disobeying the physical distancing requirements.

Mardelli tells CTV News Ottawa that while sales were slowing down due to the pandemic, the SportsMask demand has been able to keep all the staff at Thawrih employed.

Since launching the SportsMask on March 25, Thawrih has seen an “incredible response” from the public. The SportsMask was sold out over the weekend, but a new stock is now available.

You can place an order for the masks on the Thawrih website. On Wednesday, Thawrih announced it had to adjust the price for the SportsMask after hiring more staff and ordering more material. The SportsMask now cost $30 for a two pack.

Before shipping, each mask is spritzed with a mild soap solution for freshness and sanitization.

Unity through fitness

Abood and Sami Dabliz launched Thawrih with the goal of creating unity through fitness. It specializes in modest wear and speciality gear, including Sports Hijabs and Sports Turbans.

All Thawrih products are hand-made in Ottawa by Syrian newcomers.

Abood says the initiative enables newcomer women to enter the labour force, provide for their families, and also aids with the integration process of newcomer families into Ottawa society.