PRODUCING QUALITY PPE IN A PANDEMIC
It was spring 2020, and Fulya Turkmenoglu needed to pivot fast. The previous year, the entrepreneur launched her medical device brand, Jaiyou, featuring a line of attractively designed, FDA-approved sports medicine supports and braces. Then the pandemic hit. “I started getting emails: ‘Do you have masks? Do you have surgical gowns?’”
Turkmenoglu, Fashion Design ’14, got to work. The daughter of a doctor, she grasped the importance of reliable personal protective equipment (PPE), which was in urgently short supply. “We had so many examples in the marketplace that were made of fabric not designed for medical products—for furniture covering, for example,” she says. There were alarming reports of pathogen-laden gowns, and masks containing fiberglass and other hazardous substances. “I couldn’t imagine my father wearing something contaminated. That’s insane,” Turkmenoglu says.
This meant securing FDA approval for her new PPE line, Jaiyou Medical Essentials, which includes surgical gowns and both adult and pediatric masks. All products are made in Turkmenoglu’s native country, Turkey. “PPE is not a simple textile item. It’s a medical device that must be manufactured in a medical-product manufacturing facility with cleanroom protocol,” she says. “For our PPE, we use medical-grade, nonwoven fabric that is breathable, flexible, lightweight, noncombustible, and fluid resistant. It decomposes easily and is nontoxic, nonirritating, environmentally friendly, and recyclable. We don’t work with third-party supply chains, which means taking responsibility for the entire sourcing, manufacturing, and sterilization practices.”
Having successfully launched both a sports medicine and a PPE line on her own, Turkmenoglu envisions vast possibilities for her company’s expansion. “You could call it a small business, but I consider it a startup.” At-home Covid-19 tests are in the works. She also sees potential in prosthetics and in apparel designed for people with disabilities.
Jaiyou is a multifaceted company, and its name carries an apt double meaning. In Mandarin, it’s a cheer to support athletes: “fuel it and go!” While attending yoga classes, Turkmenoglu observed that sessions often concluded with the Sanskrit word jai, meaning “victory.” She recalls thinking, jai-you, the victory is you.
“The idea is supporting your body so you can exceed your own limits. We must protect and support our doctors and nurses with a high level of safety so they can take care better.”