Brandeis Alumni, Family and Friends

Sustainable Home-Goods Brand Helps Healthcare Heroes

When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down production of goods across the country and textile mills shifted to making masks and personal protective equipment, Stephanie (Fodor) MacDonald ’04 saw an opportunity for her home-goods company, Authenticity50, to join in and help.

Stephanie Fodor MacDonald stands in a textile warehouse and smiles
Stephanie (Fodor) Macdonald ’04 on a visit to a family-owned textile mill in South Carolina that weaves Authenticity50's sheeting fabric.

Photo Credit: Authenticity50

“We are a very small company, but wanted to see what we could do with the fabric we had on hand,” MacDonald said. “We started seeing reports that cotton sheeting fabric could be perfect for face masks, and people started making homemade masks out of various cotton fabrics.”

To date, the company’s 100,000 Mask Project has raised more than $27,000 toward the production of reusable cotton masks for front-line health care workers. Made of Authenticity50’s high-quality fabric typically used for sheets, the reusable cotton masks are reducing the impact of disposable masks on the environment while ensuring health care workers have access to comfortable personal protective equipment. They have manufactured and donated over 20,000 masks to seven different non-profit hospitals.

“It was something we felt was the right thing to do,” MacDonald said. “I can look in the mirror and feel good knowing that what we are doing makes a positive difference.”

MacDonald and her husband, Jimmy, launched Authenticity50 in 2015. With a namesake that represents their mission to create premium home goods authentically in the 50 states, the company draws on a supply chain comprised solely of domestic manufacturing partners. From Supima cotton grown in California to yarn spinners in Georgia and weavers in Maine, their products help support small towns and local communities from coast to coast.

The company prides itself on what it calls its “Seed-to-Stitch” model of business, which supports domestic manufacturing towns and seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by bringing offshore production back to the United States.

“We are proud to have one of the lowest carbon footprints in the industry because everything is so localized,” Stephanie MacDonald said. “We are mindful of environmentally-friendly practices and sustainability, and limit the amount of chemicals that go into the products. We don't want to be sleeping on chemicals ourselves, and don’t want our customers to either.”

MacDonald, who majored in politics with minors in economics, theater and East Asian studies, credits her time at Brandeis for giving her the tools to start the business. “Brandeis allows students to seek out their own path and create an educational experience that works for them,” she said. “I was able to get a well-rounded education that shaped me to problem-solve and to think outside the box. It really did shape my trajectory in life and gave me the confidence to create my own path.”

Authenticity50 is featured in the first-ever Brandeis Holiday Gift Guide. MacDonald’s gift recommendation: “You cannot go wrong with a set of our signature sheets, the product that started it all.” Visit Authenticity50’s website to see their growing line of products and to get started on your holiday shopping.

— Lauren Medeiros

Published On: November 27, 2020