Coronavirus: Demand surges for Annah Stretton's fashion face masks

Orders for face masks are flooding in at Annah Stretton’s Clothing Company in Morrinsville.

The Waikato business says it is making as many as 30,000 face masks a day and demand is expected to increase after Auckland went back into lockdown Level 3 and the rest of the country was raised to Alert Level 2 at noon on Wednesday. A team of 10 full-time staff are sewing, folding and packaging thousands of face masks each day, doing what they can to fill orders.

The turnaround can take between 10 and 20 days.

“We are desperate for sewers, desperate for packers and people,” Stretton said.
Orders picked up a week ago when Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield prepared Kiwis to wear masks and the Covid-19 alert messages started up on television again, she said.


We sold 15,000 masks that day, now our orders have almost doubled, Stretton said.

“Nobody can walk away with a mask [on Wednesday], they have to pre-order.

“It’s not stopping at the moment, we are still having days that are bigger than yesterday.

“Our biggest day ever in Level Four was then beaten by ten times last Thursday.”

Manufacturers across New Zealand are reporting fresh demand, with many businesses temporarily closing orders.

Stretton’s masks are selling in packs of three for $20 and are being sent customers in New Zealand and Australia. The material masks are reusable and washable.

“There will be certain spaces where we can’t have physical distance, like on public transport or in the medical space so then a mask becomes a good alternative.”

Stretton, who has been working 18-hour days to keep up with demand said: “It’s like the bell curve, it just keeps going up and down, but we keep going straight up.

“We’ve had orders right from lockdown until now. We’re a fashion house. We had robust orders right through. We’ve never really stopped.

“Most of my evenings I figure out a plan and in the day I work with the packing team because there are so many orders to pack.”

The spike in demand comes after the business was “flatlining” prior to lockdown.

“The clothing industry has been soft for a while because we compete on a global scale … it’s been a break-even battle for the last three or four years.

“Masks won’t be here forever, not at the level they’re at now, so it’s about making the most out of an opportunity.”

Stretton changed to making masks before lockdown when a charity asked for 6000 face masks in fabric. She saw the opportunity to generate revenue for her business and since then, business has really taken off.

14th August 2020

Original article by stuff NZ

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