WITH the recent easing of Covid 19 restrictions came the new guidelines that people should be wearing face masks while shopping or in crowded places.
A chic Cork boutique is answering the demand for masks — but also generating funds for a much-loved worthy cause, Marymount Hospice.
Love Cherish boutique in Charleville is run by Maeve Dennehy, who had to close up her store due to the pandemic, but is operating online.
Marymount Hospice means a lot to Maeve, as they cared for her sister Karen, who died at the age of 39, and then a few years later, they cared for her mother.
When Maeve opened her boutique, Karen was by her side, so after she passed away, it seemed fitting to hold a fundraiser for Marymount with the shop as the focal point.
On the one year anniversary of the shop, she ran a fundraiser, which raised €8,500 for Marymount. Then, on their five year anniversary, she went bigger and bolder with a fashion event that raised €24,553. She had a huge event planned for this year, with all tickets already sold out, but due to the Covid 19 restrictions, it had to be cancelled.
She had been thinking about ways to still raise funds for the hospice so close to her heart and others, and then the idea for the masks came to her.
“A lot of suppliers had been onto me saying they had face masks, but I said ‘no way’ I didn’t want to profit from this pandemic.
“After thinking about it, I realised that people would be buying masks anyway and why not buy them in aid of a good cause.”
Maeve got Virginia Foley from Up She Rises PR and Marketing involved and they pulled the campaign together really quickly. Love Cherish will absorb the costs of getting the masks, shipping and any associated costs, while friends and family are being roped in to get them to customers.
“In the first hour, the 240 I had bought sold out, soon after that I bought another 440 and they were gone just as quickly.
“I will put a cap on how many I order in, because I need to be able to process, pack and ship all of the orders. It has to be manageable.
“I have already raised more than €33,000 for Marymount and I’m hoping this campaign will get me to the €50,000 mark. That’s my goal, although I’m nearly afraid to say it out loud.”
So far, Maeve has been amazed by the generosity and support from people far and wide.
“I’ve been inundated with messages of support and offers of help. Verso Fashions kindly donated €500, someone knocked on the door and just handed me €20 — it’s that kind of generosity that just amazes me.”
The masks themselves are really pretty, coming in a colour coordinated two pack with a plain colour embellished with beading and a patterned one.
They are 97% cotton, great quality, washable and therefore reusable, and as Maeve said: “Now, we can all look fab when we do the weekly shop.”
If masks are something people will be wearing for the foreseeable future while this virus remains a threat, people will not want to be buying single use ones.
“The fact that they are reusable is important — we all try to do our bit for the environment.”
Social media has been a huge part of Maeve’s business and in times like now, when people physically cannot go shopping, it is the saving grace of many people’s sanity, and her clothes bring a bit of light and frivolity into otherwise gloomy groundhog days.
Maeve said at first she felt like she shouldn’t be trying on clothes and showing stock in a very tough time for so many, but she was getting so many messages from people telling her the clothes were a welcome distraction from what was going on.
“I know they are just clothes, but the social media posts brought normality to their lives for a lot of people.”
The business has grown during lockdown and Maeve said that she has had to learn a whole new way of operating, and while she could make more money and have less overheads if she just went online and scrapped the physical shop, it is the customer interactions and the shop she set up with the help of her family that she loves too much to ever give up on.
“I feel like I’m learning a whole new business, it’s a balancing act and people have been great and so supportive, but I’ve also noticed a surge in people wanting to support more Irish businesses at the moment.
“I genuinely love meeting my customers. I opened the shop on day one with the help of my sister and my mum was involved. It means too much to me.
“I’d definitely make more money if it was online only, but I couldn’t give it up.”
Between Facebook and Instagram, the boutique in the Cork town has almost 100,000 followers with orders being shipped all over the country every single day.
The importance of the platforms doesn’t pass the astute business woman by.
“Social media is my business. It’s as important as ordering stock.”
The two pack of masks in aid of Marymount Hospice is available to buy from www.lovecherish.com for €25 and you have to put the word ‘Masks’ into the discount code box to avail of free shipping. All money raised will go directly to Marymount Hospice.
I realised that people would be buying masks anyway and why not buy them in aid of a good cause? In the first hour, the 240 I had bought sold out, soon after that I bought another 440.