A sideline business making shopping totes was transformed for teacher Rachel Lindsell and her business partner, pharmacist Linda Chambers, when the pandemic hit in early 2020.
The pair quickly diversified from selling bespoke fabric bags to designing face coverings and watched their revenues rocket. .
Now, more than 4,000 masks later, Ms Lindsell, 53, is giving up the day job to devote her time to The Creative Bag Company.
Despite UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement that restrictions, including the wearing of facemasks, will be lifted from Monday, the prospect of continued demand for products made in their workshop in the south-west English city of Wells look good.
“When the pandemic hit, we had no idea how it would impact on our business but we were lucky that we were both able to continue working and that online shopping surged,” Ms Lindsell told The National.
“When the government announced masks were going to be mandatory on public transport and in public areas, we decided we wanted to supply an alternative to disposable masks.
“So we looked into the possibility of supplying sustainable fitted face coverings instead. We felt if we had to wear them then they should at least make people feel happy!
“In our original business plan we had made a conscious decision to try to include as many organic and eco-friendly products in our range, so we asked our supplier about the possibility of making a face-covering version," she said.
“So we added them to our range and they have proven really popular. We just started it off as a bit of fun to cheer people up and it spiralled. Now we have our own business on Amazon.”
The friends originally met through their four children and decided five years ago to set up a side business on their kitchen tables, making handprinted bespoke cosmetic bags.
“Having begun at the kitchen table, we now work from a small studio,” Ms Lindsell said.
“Our business came about because we had difficulty finding that special unique gift for our children and their friends. So we started to make personalised gift bags for them and then as party bags and as gifts for friends' birthdays. The feedback was always amazing so we finally decided to take the plunge and sell our products to a wider audience."
On Monday, mask-wearing rules in some areas will be relaxed, but the partners will continue to provide them.
“We plan to keep selling them until people no longer want them,” Ms Lindsell said.
“We feel that the face coverings are just that – they provide a barrier.
“We would never suggest they will provide complete protection, but they are an additional precaution that people can wear if they so choose. The masks we use consist of two layers of single jersey fabric, with inner loop option for fit adjustment and are machine washable so can be reused.”
Despite lockdown easing, some businesses are still encouraging people to wear masks, including Transport for London in advice to people travelling on the Tube.