STAY safe, look good, Pucker-up - and buy a mask with morals.
That’s the message from three enterprising business minds who today launch a lockdown-inspired social enterprise to help Brits adapt to the new normal.
The start-up, called Pucker, is producing easy-on-the-eye face masks which will allow Covid-conscious members of the public to breathe a little easier as they go about their daily lives, while raising cash for charity.
UK-produced by professional seamstresses who have suffered financial hardship as a result of strict lockdown measures, preorders of the masks have been strong.
Now, as the first ranges - called the Summer Breeze and Big Juicy collections - are officially launched, the friends behind the social enterprise - who have not seen each other for five months - have lifted the lid on their idea.
London-based Nik Higgins, 29, came up with the idea after a business trip to Australia as bush fires raged out of control.
He said: “The air quality was so bad that many people took to wearing face masks. Some wore them with style, others perhaps not quite so.
“We are trying to achieve a number of goals here. We want people of the UK and beyond to be able to Pucker-up in style.
“There’s every reason to wear a face mask while out in public - but no need to look like you have just stepped out of a medical facility. Our masks are stylish, robust and they look great.
“In launching this social enterprise, we are also providing much-needed work to freelance seamstresses who have been hit in the pocket by lockdown and the restrictions it has brought with it.
“And finally, we will be donating 25% of profits from the sale of the masks to three charities close to our hearts; Crisis, Mind and Refuge.
“We’re feeling really positive about Pucker. Pre-orders have been strong, we have had them from as far afield as Spain and Kenya and we see no reason for them to slow down.”
Nik’s idea moved towards becoming a reality when he teamed up with pals Joe Hayden and Cathy Van Hear. They have taken the idea to prototype and launch in a matter of weeks, using digital conferencing apps - and the good old Royal Mail.
Every mask is handmade in the UK from three layers of high-quality, breathable cotton. They have a shaped nose and chin, adjustable nose bridge and ear toggles to provide a top-of-the-range fit.
The masks also have a pocket into which a range of common particulate filters can be inserted, should the proud Pucker owner so wish.
Cathy and Joe are based in east London. Cathy, a textile artist and seamstress, has led on product design and prototyping, while Joe has taken care of the digital side of the operation.
Cathy, 27, said: “My ethos as a maker is to combine excellent functionality with bold and playful colour combinations. What we managed to achieve with our masks is a design which fits well, feels good and looks great.
“There’s going to be a real demand for masks over the coming weeks and months, especially in cities where they are a requirement in busy places.
“We’re looking forward to helping the mask-wearing population hit the streets with a little style and a splash of colour.”
Joe, 29, added: “As big believers in the power of business to work for social good, we’re keen to ensure that Pucker makes a positive impact on the world, which is why we’re hoping the contribution from our profits to charity will help some of the most vulnerable in society.
“Of equal importance is that our seamstresses get paid a living wage for their work. We are hoping that our flexible and distributed manufacturing model will allow makers to work both remotely and safely.
“All in, we see Pucker as a force for good - and really look forward to seeing our growing legion of supporters rocking their Puckers in public.”
Want to Pucker-up? Visit puckermasks.uk for more information and to shop the range.