On Friday, Allbirds posted a message to the healthcare community on its Instagram, saying the brand would gift its signature Wool Runners to medical professionals working on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic and inviting them to get in touch.
The response was so strong that, a few hours later, it shared an update: The brand's system was overwhelmed by the amount of e-mails it received, but it was working to fix it and get back to anyone who reached out.
On Monday, founders Tim Brown and Joey Zwillinger shared a second update, in the form of a letter to its audience. "We've been completely blown away by the response to our U.S. healthcare donation last week," they wrote. "Our team has been working overtime to get back to all of the requests, and we've distributed $500,000 in shoes since Friday."
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This opened their eyes to "a need beyond what we can fulfill on our own while still ensuring we balance the needs of our employees," the letter continued. To that end, Allbirds would introduce a "buy-one-give-one" option to U.S.-based shoppers: Purchase its shoes online, it explained in the post, and the brand will split the cost of donating a pair of Wool Runners to a healthcare professional who could use them; you could also choose to donate a pair at checkout.
"These are uncharted waters for everyone, and our challenges are dwarfed by those on the front lines," Brown and Zwillinger wrote. "But we're optimistic that through your support, we can continue to make a positive impact on this crisis, together."
A growing list of fashion brands have shifted their production to manufacture essential gear for healthcare professionals as the coronavirus continues to spread globally. Others, like Allbirds, are giving away their product to the medical community: Popular scrubs brand Figs donated 30,000 sets of its scrubs to hospitals in need, while bridal label Pronovias is offering free wedding dresses to hospital employees (whether they're doctors, nurses, support staff, cafeteria workers or janitors) who are engaged.