Mio Face Masks is a passionate home-grown project developed by the team at Mio Destino. Mio Destino is a UK based lingerie etailer normally focused on the sale and delivery of gorgeous lingerie, swimwear and nightwear. Like many other companies, Mio Destino have experienced a wild ride during the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic and if there are silver linings to dark clouds, the Mio Face Masks project is one.
Our Covid-19 Pandemic Experience (so far)
Mio Destino (the underwear company) has been in business for over 13 years, starting in our family dining room in 2006 and growing organically to what is now a ten person team in Oakham, Rutland where we sell both branded and our own Mio brand products. We have worked hard to grow the company independently to become a multi-million pound company. However that hasn’t come without hardships along the way, overcoming the 2008 recession and several other small business start-up “bumps in the road”. Leading up to March 2020, all seemed well. Business was solid, we were having our best year yet.
Then by mid March 2020, everything changed. When the pandemic measures were put into force, the panic clearly impacted our customers around the world and our sales plummeted. The sales dropped below 50% of normal levels taking them to an unsustainable level to retain our staff. We felt the worst was upon us and were forced to have emotional-filled conversations with staff looking at ways to cut costs whilst impacting staff the least. Many staff graciously agreed to take time off without pay and others volunteered to reduce their hours by 50%. Fortunately, the government’s furlough scheme meant that our staff didn’t have to undertake such drastic measures but there remained an overriding feeling of uncertainly for all of us individually and for the future of the company.
In the weeks that followed our sales started to return and in fact, they soon started growing faster than we could cope with, given our tiny team left working. At one stage, we had most Operations staff on furlough who couldn’t return for three weeks while other packing staff were off due to experiencing Coronavirus symptoms. During one week it was only myself and our general manager able to work. Not having packed an order for over a decade, I was to say the least pathetic. My daily rate of packing mirrored what our packing staff can achieve in an hour. It was so stressful! My admiration of what our packing and warehouse staff achieve grew immensely from this experience.
During the months of the April, May and June lockdown, our sales continue to climb each week to new levels never before experienced. Our problems overnight changed from lack of sales to not being able to cope with the volume of sales. The Mio Destino staff have demonstrated what a small but resilient staff can endure. They have all been bounced around, taking on completely new tasks, working remotely, working while trying to manage school children at home and having to quickly embrace a new social distancing work environment which isn’t always an efficient or socially satisfying one.
It is within this chaotic context that Mio Face Masks developed. It seems a natural fit as an intimates apparel company to extend our offering to a face coverings. The project has been a complete team effort, with every single staff member being involved in some capacity either sourcing products, selecting designs, developing sales listings or acting as models in our photo shoot. We are pleased that the manufacture of these face masks has meant that factories workers have opportunities to regain employment at our eastern European factory. Most of all, we are happy to donate back £1 for the sale of each mask sold to the NHS Charities Together. The UK has been hit hard by Covid-19. Our financial contribution is an expression of our gratitude to all key workers who have taken risks and made sacrifices for us all. Thank you.