Two north London mums who appeared on BBC TV show Dragons’ Den last month have turned their attention to the Covid-19 crisis by helping to make face masks for at-risk communities.
Nancy Zeffman and Eileen Willett are the founders of Cucumber Clothing, a range of nightwear and clothing aimed at keeping women cool.
They have teamed up with sustainable gift-wrapping company UpWrap, to provide offcuts from their clothing range for the production of fabric face masks.
They have also made masks lined with the Cucumber Clothing’s ‘feel like silk’ material to prevent users getting hot and clammy if worn for a long time.
All the masks are donated to at-risk communities. UpWrap, founded by Amber Testino, coordinates the distribution to keyworkers and their families for free.
Zeffman, formerly in advertising with Saatchi & Saatchi, and Willett, ex-Nicole Farhi, are also donating materials to Making for Change, which are sewing masks for a children’s care centre.
A former member of Belsize Square Synagogue, Zeffman says: “At a time like this we can feel paralysed by the greater issues controlling our lives and to be able to be involved in helping is such a positive way.
“We understand that making anything produces a carbon footprint, and we have always wanted to make ours as light as possible, hence everything we produce is made within a five-mile radius of our homes. Sustainability and slow fashion are at the heart of what we do, so donating offcuts and sampling materials and putting our (Eileen’s) sewing skills to use, are just another way to be more thoughtful. We have always wanted to create not just a brand but a community, and helping out in this crisis, even in this small way, is another way to contribute to our community.”
The entrepreneurs, who came up with the idea for the company at the school gates, were put in touch with UpWrap to see if they could help.
“It seemed a no-brainer – we had some off-cuts and it was the perfect way for us to make sure they were put to good use.”
“We saw the need for a capsule collection of elevated essentials – beautiful sleepwear and loungewear, using the best sustainable performance fabrics.” The range is made from volcanic mineral to help maintain the ideal core body temperature of 37.5°C.
Although they didn’t secure investment from the ‘Dragons’, Zeffman says the experience was “daunting” but “good fun. We have had some really nice comments (and orders) from a few customers, so it
was all worth it.”