Seeing opportunity in disaster
Even the Covid-19 cloud has its silver lining. Mushrooming face mask designers profit from this deadly pandemic, and the demand is overwhelming. “It’s massive. I don’t sleep. Some people order 500 and others 10,000 masks. The minimum order I have is 1 000,” says Benton Thopola of Protea North.
Not even known stores shake Benton, who says he’s not in competition either. “South African population is estimated at 57 million. Even if we could put all the stores together, we won’t be able to cater for everyone.” Some masks are customized, others are not and they are priced from R50.00 to R150.00 each.
As a devout Christian, Benton’s approach is different. He is a fashion designer and was producing masks just for swag under his company, Bible Wear. That was before Covid-19 hit our shores. The Holy Spirit guided him to start producing more masks. He reluctantly obliged as his cash flow wasn’t looking good. A few days before President Ramaphosa announced the lockdown, his masks stock was not enough and the demand was getting higher.
Benton stresses the need for quality and also uses his masks as media to reaffirm his religious believe. “I’m selling products that represent and advertising God, and whatever that uses God has to be perfect,” he says assuring.
Many hope that Covid-19 could immediately be a thing of the past. Surely, when that happens, the mask businesses wouldn’t be as lucrative. Benton, too, wishes to see the demise of the pandemic; however, he believes that business should go on. “There are many beautiful mask designs that I want to release just for the swag. It’s going be a new trend,” he says ambitiously.