After being made redundant due to Covid-19, Ayla Bligh and five other women within the fashion industry decided to put their knowledge and skills to use by building ‘By Mischo’, a New Zealand fashion label producing designer face masks.
Within only a week of launching, the brand has already sold out of its limited-edition stock lines, selling up to 50 orders an hour and has even had orders from the U.S and U.K.
Bligh says she was reluctant to start the business as she had witnessed first hand the struggles of running a fashion label in New Zealand.
“I have trained and worked in the fashion industry for many years, most recently as an account manager for a textile firm, and have seen just how hard it is to make a business succeed.
“I reached out to others in the fashion industry via trade community groups and was able to connect with a number of seamstresses who were looking for additional work as the rest of the industry has been hard hit. Some of them worked as tailors for various labels and like me have found themselves out of work overnight.”
Bligh says the team are all extremely grateful to have the opportunity to be producing something and earning an income again. Like most people, she was shocked to see that 90 percent of the 11,000 redundancies in New Zealand due to the pandemic affected women. By Mischo is a business designed not only for supporting women but also to reduce the stigma around wearing a mask.
“From the start, I wanted By Mishco to be about empowering women who, like me, had lost their jobs. We’re doing this by keeping manufacturing within New Zealand, all five of our seamstresses were made redundant or had reduced hours due to the pandemic.
“It also makes good business sense as we don’t have to deal with all the issues and late deliveries that importers have to deal with due to COVID disrupting supply chains.”
By Mischo’s ethos is to offer product which is both fun and fashionable, shown through the labels matching masks and scrunchies. Bligh has also used her textile knowledge to determine the best materials for making the masks.
“Having worked in the industry for a number of years we do learn a lot about natural fibres and I know that linen is quite breathable so it’s nice to wear and use as a facemask, but also the weave isn’t so loose that if you do happen to sneeze something is going to go through. It’s also quite soft which works better than synthetic fabric.”
Designing the masks almost came to a halt when one of the country’s largest elastics suppliers were completely out of stock, quick-thinking however, Bligh soon redesigned the masks to have elastic from pharmacy hair ties.
Promotion on the label’s new website and Facebook page have seen sales rocket and as a result, have had the team scale up production with the purchase of more fabric and materials.
“The next steps for the business will be to focus on building an export brand which allows us to better support our local team by producing at higher volumes.
“We are also launching a range of smaller size masks for children and have expanded our delivery options over the weekend to include contactless collection for locals.”