Amanda Alvizo was the first person hired to join Made In after founders Jake Kalick and Chip Malt began the company in Austin after moving from Boston two years ago.
The cookware company loved what Austin could offer. “Austin is the promised land,” says Lindsay Jackson, vice president of brand marketing and strategy. Not only does the city offer tech opportunities, but "people are nice and talented and helpful,“ Jackson says.
Alvizo is the head of customer service, and she’s also mom to 6-year-old Cooper. Cooper might tell you he has cystic fibrosis, but he also will tell you he’s a Gryffindor, as in the house he would be part of in the “Harry Potter” world.
Cooper, Jackson says, is as much a part of Made In as Alvizo is. “He’s our mascot,” Jackson says.
For May, which is cystic fibrosis month, the company has created purple-tinted nonstick frying pans with 15% of the sales being donated to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. The pans come in three sizes: 8 inches for $75, 10 inches for $85 and 12 inches for $99. A kit with all three is $259.
The purple pans, which launched May 1, quickly sold out by May 4. Made In is extending the 15% donation to two other products: The 8-inch gray chef knife for $89 and the gray Santoku knife for $99. They are available at madeincookware.com.
Purple is considered the color of cystic fibrosis. It’s the first philanthropic line developed by Made In, and the second philanthropic effort the company has made. In March, the company donated $20,000 to the Southern Smoke Foundation to help people in the hospitality and restaurant industries during the coronavirus pandemic.
Choosing to launch its first limited-edition philanthropic line for cystic fibrosis might seem a little uncharacteristic for a kitchen brand, but, Jackson says, “with Mother’s Day falling in May, here’s a mother we get to celebrate.”
“We have every intention of selling out,” Jackson says.
The pan is something the Alvizos and other families who deal with cystic fibrosis can look forward to in May. Every year in Central Texas, a walk at the Austin Zoo raises money for the cause, but this year’s event has been canceled because of the coronavirus.
“He looks forward to it every year,” Alvizo says. Their whole family comes to Austin to walk with them, and it’s the one time a year when Cooper gets to be around other kids with cystic fibrosis, though at a safe distance. Kids with cystic fibrosis stay apart from other kids with the disease to prevent spreading their lung infections.
People with cystic fibrosis can carry different infections, which can be dangerous for other people with cystic fibrosis. They also worry about a respiratory disease like COVID-19 and what it would do to already compromised lungs.
Alvizo was 14 weeks pregnant when genetic testing revealed that the genetic mutation that both she and her husband, Adrian, carried for cystic fibrosis had been passed on to Cooper.
She says both she and her husband are “dorky science people,” and while they weren’t having what was considered a high-risk pregnancy, their doctor offered the option of genetic testing. Insurance didn’t cover it, but they did it anyway.
Amanda Alvizo was tested first, and results showed she was a carrier for the mutation, and then her husband was tested. They thought they would be crossing this worry off their list, but his test results showed he was a carrier as well.
Her amniotic fluid was tested, and not only did they find out they were having a boy, but they also found out they were having a boy with cystic fibrosis.
The disease is characterized by frequent lung infections, difficulty breathing and a buildup of thick, sticky mucus in the lungs as well as in the digestive system.
Because they knew so early that Cooper had cystic fibrosis, they were able to get specialists on board before he was born.
Today he has daily breathing treatments with a machine that helps loosen and clear the mucus. The frequency and length of treatments increase on days when he’s ill.
“It doesn’t stop him,” Amanda Alvizo says. “He’s an energetic and creative kid. As his mom, I’m very proud.”
Amanda Alvizo already has seen the progress that has been made in cystic fibrosis treatments since Cooper was born. At the time, she was told he had a life expectancy of 36; now it’s up to 42. If he had been born in the 1980s when scientists identified the mutation, it would have been 12 or 13.
“The things he’s taking every day now were just hopes and dreams seven years ago,” Amanda Alvizo says.
Cooper, she says, has dealt with a lot in his life. “While he does definitely appear to be a typical kid,” she says, he “very often is the most mature one in my house. He’s been forced into taking control over his life and taking control over his health.”
Yet, when he complains or wishes that he didn’t have cystic fibrosis, his mom tells him: “If we did one little change, he would be a different person. He is an amazing, sometimes crazy amazing human. It's rough that he has this, but it doesn't define who he is. He defines who he is.”