Belocine of Nephtali Couture responded to Covid-19 by making face masks – which helped her to maintain her clothing business at a time when opportunities to showcase her designs were limited.
Belocine, a French and Congolese clothing designer, had not always been involved with fashion. She had recently finished studying Biology in Paris and sought a new challenge. After accepting a job offer based in Ayr, she moved to Scotland and quickly fell in love with the country. She had a keen interest in sewing and became skilled at creating garments influenced by her African heritage – with beautiful, colourful patterns. Little did she know that this hobby would soon become something more.
Belocine was enamoured with the idea of sharing her African heritage with Scotland through clothing. She quickly took steps to establish her new business – creating social media pages and enlisting the help of friends to model her designs. However, she was aware that she needed to familiarise herself with how entrepreneurship works and which laws she would have to follow.
Belocine arranged a meeting with Business Gateway, who recommended that she get in touch with The Prince’s Trust Scotland. Belocine met with a Prince’s Trust staff member who told her about the Enterprise programme and funding The Trust can provide – which aims to help young entrepreneurs build their business. Delighted with this news, and the enthusiasm shown by the Trust’s staff about her project, Belocine applied for a grant. This allowed her to continue to build Nephtali Couture. She was able to purchase an overlocker, to help with sewing, and renew her website contract – which was a weight off her shoulders, as online orders are so important for her business.
Belocine has continued her involvement with The Prince’s Trust, taking part in local events and even starring in an advert.
The Covid-19 crisis has presented a huge threat to small businesses across the country and arrived at a time when Belocine’s company was just beginning to flourish. Belocine knew she had to adapt – quickly coming up with the idea of creating face masks.
She opted to continue to use the same vibrant material she normally worked with to create colourful new masks and soon began receiving orders from across Scotland, Northern Ireland and then across the UK. Demand was so high, she had to order in more material and sold out of many designs within a week.
“To encourage people to leave the medical PPE for frontline workers I decided to add face masks to my collection so that people would feel more comfortable and stylish while going out. I promoted them online and soon began receiving so many orders that I sold out and had to buy in more material. This has helped me keep Nephtali Couture going during the pandemic”.