Take cover!

Selling non-surgical masks has become an industry for crafty locals.

Wynter Sharpe works at Chatters Salon and says masks have become a fashion item. Entrepreneurs have created a cottage industry selling non-medical face coverings. Chantel Murrin/Kicker
Wynter Sharpe works at Chatters Salon and says masks have become a fashion item. Entrepreneurs have created a cottage industry selling non-medical face coverings. Chantel Murrin/Kicker

Chantel Murrin
Kicker

Face masks have become an essential item during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it wasn’t long before people saw a business opportunity.

Courtney Peach and Brooke Dawe are both from Conception Bay South and have been best friends since high school.

The pair had always dreamed of starting their own sewing business.Dawe works as a fashion designer at Always in Vogue and Peach is an executive assistant at Harris Ryan Chartered Accountants. Together they own and operate C&B Designs outside of their full-time jobs.

Peach says they noticed people on social media looking for satin masks that would be good for sensitive skin.

“We were also interested in them ourselves because we couldn’t find any masks that fit our faces properly and were fashionable,” said Peach.

“I knew that eventually people would get sick of wearing the blue hospital mask and would look for something a little more colourful and fun, so that’s what I tried to offer.”

They launched their online business on Aug. 23 and have sold roughly 500 masks since then. That doesn’t include the matching scrunchies they’ve sold as well.

On Aug. 24, masks became mandatory for people in indoor public places across Newfoundland and Labrador.

Wynter Sharpe works at Chatters Salon in Mount Pearl. She views wearing a mask as a fashion accessory.

“I like buying ones with cute designs and ones that have bold colours to make them more exciting,” she said, letting out a laugh. “Basically, anything that can match my outfits.”

Shauna Griffiths studies fashion design at Blanche Macdonald Centre in Vancouver and says she saw a big trend and had to jump on it right away.

Originally from Ship Harbour, Griffiths spent most of the pandemic in her hometown before heading back to B.C. to finish her program.

“I knew that eventually people would get sick of wearing the blue hospital mask and would look for something a little more colourful and fun, so that’s what I tried to offer,” she said.

“Now that masks are mandatory, we have had many brides reach out to have masks made for their wedding party.”

Although most retailers are carrying masks now, Sharpe feels it’s still important to purchase from local sellers.

They spend about 30 hours a week, says Dawe, making and filling orders, often working on custom orders for weddings. They often match the fabric of the masks to bridesmaid dresses and groomsmen suits.

“Now that masks are mandatory, we have had many brides reach out to have masks made for their wedding party.”

Having stopped making masks when she went back to school, Griffiths says the workload was overwhelming at times.

“Selling masks in the COVID-season in Newfoundland was such a crazy time,” said Griffiths. “Looking back, it wasn’t a break for me whatsoever, but it was fun and it was exciting to see that people wanted to have my products in a time when everyone needed them.”

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