A COMPANY which would normally be ramping up for its busiest period supplying uniforms and workwear has instead switched to making luxury face masks.

4Couture would usually be going flat-out at this time of year to supply branded uniforms to retailers, events and the hospitality industry.

But with most of its client activities on hold, the Ferndown-based business has rapidly switched to making pure cotton face coverings.

Within weeks, it has built an online store and been approached by businesses looking to get their own staff back to work.

The business was originally making masks for its staff’s own protection. But with the government’s decision to make masks compulsory on public transport from Monday, June 15, the company is hoping its masks may have wider appeal.

Director Lisa Morelli said: “‘In late March, our normally busy order book almost dried up overnight when clients were forced to close up and retail and promotional events cancelled.

“We started researching masks as a way to keep the team safe but soon realised we had all the skills in house to hand make masks with a difference. This has also enabled us to keep the staff employed and the machines running.”

Nicky Grimes, seamstress at 4Couture, said: “We wanted to wear fashionable masks and didn’t like the idea of disposable ones in terms of the environment. We were also acutely aware that we didn’t want to be using supplies meant for the NHS and other key workers.”

4Couture’s masks are made from 100 per cent Quilters cotton and rather than using elastic over the ears, they have cotton ties which the company says are more comfortable and can help achieve a better fit.

According to a number of studies, the layers of fabric combined with the fit are the keys to making a non-surgical mask effective.

4Couture’s masks are machine washable and reversible to allow for two designs in one.

Sharron Domanska, director of Arena Business Centres, was one of the first to order.

She said: “As a business based upon people, it’s vital that our own team feel protected but also that we demonstrate how seriously we take the safety and wellbeing of our clients. Our masks have been individually monogrammed to ensure no two masks are mixed up and the team are easily identifiable in and around our centres.”

Lisa Morelli added: “Our merchandise division can source and supply off the shelf masks for those clients who aren’t looking for something so personal and for every one of our handmade masks sold, we’ll be donating a surgical mask to frontline workers.”