If it is one thing about Bajans, they will dress up! Whether it be church, fete, or a global pandemic.
Since COVID-19 directives stated early this year that it is mandatory that persons wear masks in public, Barbadians have done what they do best: turn it into a fashion trend!
Mother and daughter duo, Julia and Cherry-Ann Lovell jumped on board as mask retailers during the early stages of the pandemic and have created a flourishing business, making sure that Bajans are staying safe and looking good.
The venture started as a result of Cherry-Ann, an event decorator, losing her only means of income when the government-imposed curfew came into effect last year.
Cherry-Ann’s quick-thinking and hustler’s mindset along with Julia’s sewing experience led the two on a business journey that was able to sustain the family through tough financial times.
They spent time researching the correct medical standards for making masks and with a bit of good fortune, they were able to source materials at home to outfit Bajans with trendy masks that caught the attention of many.
Cherry-Ann says masks for Bajans have become a fashion statement as customers request a range of customized prints, designs, and colours, including sports teams, African prints, school uniform prints, cancer awareness themes, Biblical themes, as well as customer names.
“People started taking this thing real serious yuh! A joke me and my mother used to make it that the masks have become a fashion accessory. Like it is not about the earrings or the chain anymore, it is all about the masks. The masks have to match the outfit!”
Last November, the Lovells focused on creating uniquely themed Bajan masks with the broken trident, popular sayings, and the number 54 to mark the country’s Independence anniversary.
Although mask-retail is a business that allowed the household to stay afloat during the pandemic, for the Lovells, it is way more than that.
Julia explains she and Cherry-Ann decided to donate masks to those in need as an expression of gratitude to the Barbadian public.
“When I catch the van on mornings, I look out for school children that have masks that are not fitting their face or worn out, and I would size up that child and see the colour of the uniforms and I could come home and make up to four masks. When I see them on the van I would call them and ask them first and then give them the masks. I does feel good in spirit when they take them,” Julia says.
She adds the family is so appreciative of the support they have received from customers over the past few months she has adopted the philosophy of “sell half and give away the other half” as a way to say thank you.
By Christina Smith
Sponsored by Barbados Public Workers Cooperative Credit Union Limited (BPWCCUL)