Former World No. 4 Nicolas Kiefer has found a unique way to help during the coronavirus pandemic, as the company that produces his clothing label pivots to producing masks.
Kiefer has been working with Holger Gartz, a textile producer and refiner, whose company is based in Kassel, Germany. That company produces Kiefer’s own clothing label, NK #kiwifash — based on Kiefer’s nickname — which typically makes casual and tennis clothing.
But when the coronavirus began spreading, Gartz approached Kiefer and said they had to find a way to help. Gartz had the idea of producing reusable masks, an idea Kiefer fully put his support behind. Those masks are now being sold, online only, mainly in Germany, but also throughout Europe.
“I was immediately enthusiastic and told him that we can also distribute these masks through my channels to reach more people,” Kiefer told ATPTour.com. “That’s running pretty good and it’s nice to see what support we’re getting from the people, and they’re happy we’re producing them in Germany.”
[TENNIS AT HOME]
Kiefer says that there are too few masks on the market, which is why they are pushing to make these available. The reusable masks are made by hand, are washable, and can be personalised with a name.
“I couldn’t imagine something like this would happen. It’s pretty sad that the virus came and is doing so, but on the other hand it’s great to support and help the people,” Kiefer said. “Holger’s company could produce 300 to 500 masks a day. He’s looking for more and more people who could sew. It’s pretty important and pretty serious.”
Kiefer first met Gartz at a golf tournament “many, many years ago”. The six-time ATP Tour champion and 2004 Olympic doubles silver medallist told Gartz about his dream to have his own fashion line and label, and they went from there, launching NK #kiwifash in October 2018.
Kiefer’s golf collection was supposed to come out last week, but he is more than happy to put that on hold to help to promote the distribution of masks. Municipalities and social services are being prioritised, but Europeans can purchase the mask through Kiefer’s online shop.
Kiefer says one thing this shift in direction is allowing for is more work for Germans, as the more people there are to sew, the quicker masks can be made.
“Because of this virus, [people in Germany] are only allowed to work part-time. The companies don’t make so much profit anymore, so they can’t afford it, and the people can’t have full-time [jobs],” Kiefer said. “They had to cut people, but in this situation he gets people from part-time work to full-time jobs. This is outstanding, I think.”
In ordinary circumstances, Kiefer is a coach at SCC Berlin, one of the biggest clubs in Germany, where he works with the junior program and plays on the men’s over-40 team, which won the German championships last year. He was supposed to be in Thailand now in his role as brand ambassador for the Robinson Club. Kiefer was scheduled to be in Turkey in a few weeks, but all the clubs have closed.
“I am particularly sorry for the children,” Kiefer said. “They are hungry [to play] and have a lot of fun and enjoy their time on court.”
Kiefer is trying to stay in shape at home using freeletics, as he was working towards participating in the “Big Six” marathons in Tokyo, Boston, London, New York and Chicago. He has already completed the Berlin marathon.
“What is really important is to stay disciplined. Especially in this time, sometimes you get lazy and it goes day by day. You need to have the discipline to wake up in the morning and have a program for the day, otherwise it’s going to go the wrong way,” Kiefer said. “Doing nothing and eating, not moving, so what is very important right now is to do any kind of sport exercises. You have to move your body.”
Kiefer is looking forward to a time when people can go outside, but for now his message is to focus on remaining healthy and listening to the government.
“They should try to stay home. If they go out, use a mask, stay healthy and try to be positive and look forward. We have to accept the situation how it is right now. It’s a big challenge, but also a big chance for the whole world. It’s a big challenge for the economy,” Kiefer said. “We have to slow down. This grounding can be good, if there can be anything good in the current situation. It’s good to reflect on everything a little bit and that we are healthy. We have to see the positive things right now.”