Wedding businesses that pivoted during the lockdown…
Introducing Millie’s Masks…
When the pandemic hit, it not only left many couples devasted that they had to change their plans, it also hit the wedding industry hard. Watching the pandemic unfold and seeing so many colleagues’ lives turned upside down as their passion, work, and income stopped for the foreseeable future, was heartbreaking. With still no guidance from the government of when and how weddings will return to some kind of ‘norm‘, everything is still very much up in the air for couples desperate to say their ‘I do’s‘, and for the hard-working, mainly self-employed businesses that are the heart and soul of our wedding industry.
The lockdown has had an effect on us all. My own business which supports wedding and hospitality clients changed overnight, and I have since been on a personal journey which has included juggling work/life/family/homeschooling to two kids… and it’s not been easy by any stretch of the imagination! We are all adapting to this new way of life and it has been amazing to witness how resilient, creative, and blooming amazing my fellow wedding industry friends are, as many pivot their businesses to support their families, their home, and the community around them.
One such individual is Jo from The Couture Company; a bespoke, alternative dress designer based in Birmingham. Jo’s own wedding dressmaking business was ground to a halt as lockdown began. As news of the lack of PPE hit the headlines, Jo alongside her daughter Millie, turned her dressmaking skills into making masks. Soon one mask turned into many, and Millie’s Masks was born. With the government’s recent announcement that masks must be worn in shops from the 24th of July, we can only imagine how busy they will continue to be over the coming months.
Today we chat with Jo to see how things have changed for her over the pandemic …
Your business name…
Dress making at The Couture Company
Creating masks at Millies Masks
Wedding service you offer…
The Couture Company has been open for 25 years and we specialise in custom made, alternative, quirky, and unique bespoke bridal wear. All our dresses are designed and made inhouse at our Birmingham boutique atelier; with each dress being made with the understanding that each one of our brides are unique and individual. We love working closely with our clients to create their ultimate dream gown.
How have you pivoted your services and skills during the pandemic and lockdown?
We fell into a mask-making venture totally by accident, realistically I was looking at taking it easy doing stuff with Millie over lockdown, and having mother/daughter time… It kinda didn’t pan out that way as 1 mask turned into 14000 with Millie’s Masks!!
Has your business helped and supported your community?
Yes, amazingly so !! We have raised over £10,000 for good causes and charities and we have given about 8 friends (including wedding industry pals Assassynation and Kate Jackson) some part-time work. We have also donated 1600 masks to the most vulnerable through our Pay it Forward campaign. So tonnes of amazing positive stuff…I feel useful again!
How has your daily routine changed?
Instead of 4 days a week I now work 6 days a week… crazy right!?
As lockdown restrictions start to ease, will you continue to offer this new service or get back to working in the wedding world?
We will still be making masks as long as there is a demand. With most of this Summer’s weddings postponed, things are gonna be quiet around here for a good couple of months wedding wise.
What have you learn about your business/ life during the pandemic and how will this affect your business plans/ life moving forward?
I have learned that having a sense of and being part of a community is a strong drive, and that we should all help more when and where we can, despite our own worries as there are always people much worse off mentally and financially. I have always tried to be a person who will help if I can.
I am glad of lockdown in terms of how my daughter has grown and moved in new directions with her art, design, music – all these things are mostly neglected at school, so I feel it has fed her creative side ready for BIG school in September. I am also going to try and take it easy and delegate more to keep me off social media, I employed a friend to do both Couture and Millie’s masks social media and she has lifted a weight from my shoulders. I can concentrate on what I am good at now.
What are you looking forward to most when restrictions are lifted?
Seeing my friends and going on holiday…I REALLY need a holiday!
If you would like to grab yourself a mask for yourself and support Millie’s Masks you can visit their website HERE