The topic of Covid-19 seems to dominate all conversations at the moment and we know that during a crisis we need to adapt and make changes, which is what we’ve done here at Fella Hamilton.
As the saying goes “necessity is the mother of all invention” and as a result of the recent pivot and diversification of our business, we’ve now registered a new arm of our business called Fella Healthwear.
Since the beginning of this pandemic, we decided to divert our local fashion production and begin producing a range of personal protective equipment (PPE) for our Medical and Healthcare professionals who were required to take extra precautions whilst carrying out their duties.
The reason we began producing these pieces locally was due to the high demand and the urgency in which they were required. Producing locally in Melbourne meant that production lead-time and finished goods availability would be a lot quicker.
Melbourne and Victoria have been in the spotlight for its “second wave” of Covid-19 infections since the virus first landed on Australian shores.
It had been a few weeks since Melbourne’s second lockdown - fortunately, we have now seen a reduction in the number of new cases being recorded here on a daily basis.
On the 19th of July, our Premier Daniel Andrews announced that as of Midnight Wednesday the 22nd of July it would become mandatory for all Melburnians to wear a face mask or face covering whilst out in public, in the workplace or outside of the home as well.
Since the above news and our latest round of announced restrictions, not only Melbourne will be required to wear masks, but also all of regional Victoria.
Having already had face masks available within our range of PPE, these became popular very quickly and stock was depleted within a matter of days! We very quickly needed to get more made to keep up with the demand.
Since then, our Australian Made and Ethically Accredited face masks have created quite the frenzy around our Head office and factory.
Here is a link to a PDF outlining the advantages of wearing a mask as produced by the Burnet Institute in Melbourne Australia. This document was released prior to mandatory mask wearing but still relevant today:
Our customers know and love us for our local production plus, there is also a lot more emphasis on Australian made product right now due to the virus and the economic impact it has had worldwide.
We know a lot of you have asked after lead times and a lot have shown great patience while we produce and prepare your Face mask orders.
Given the frenzy that’s been created here, we thought we’d write a blog post about the story behind our face masks and the plan going forward.
We want to give you an idea of the process behind our face mask production.
At the time of the announcement of mandatory mask wearing in Melbourne, there was a huge influx of orders for masks through our website. As soon as we realised the volume we were dealing with, we alerted our customers of the new lead times from the time of the order being placed, until the time of dispatch.
We went straight into securing as much fabric as possible from our local fabric suppliers, as well as elastic, labels, tags and other trims which go into the production of our masks.
HERE IS SHARON LEWIN, DIRECTOR OF THE DOHERTY INSTITUTE,
& HER HUSBAND BOB MILSTEIN WEARING OUR FELLA HAMILTON MASKS IN A NON-CLINICAL SETTING.
MASKS DELIVERED FROM OUR MAKERS
The process of creating our masks starts with our designer Adrienne and her design team who create the designs. The designs then go onto our pattern maker who creates the patterns for each mask design and perfects the fit and construction with our team of on-site makers and sample machinists.
From there, we order the raw materials such as the fabric, elastic and labelling required.
We create a counter sample of each mask and check it for quality as well as fit. Once we’re happy with our designs and samples we then go into the production phase.
This phase begins with our production team who create the make orders, initiate and have ongoing contact with our local makers and coordinate the raw materials in our on-site cutting facility.
Our cutting team hand cut the fabric to create the pieces for the masks and these are then put into bundles and are picked up or delivered to our makers around Melbourne and Australia.
Our makers produce the masks in Ethically Accredited factories and once they’re complete they’re delivered back to us for processing, picking, fulfilling and dispatching.
We decided to apply for our Ethical Accreditation once we began producing our PPE locally. We thought this would be a great way to be transparent as a business and show that we’re serious about local industry and looking after our local workers.
To give you an idea on the volume and the demand we’ve been experiencing since mask wearing has become mandatory in Victoria, we have sold over 100,000 face masks!
That’s a huge number of masks! And they’re all being produced right here in Melbourne.
We’ve also been contracted to produce large corporate mask orders for organisations. Here’s an idea of some of the teams we’re working with to produce their masks:
- City of Kingston
- Department of Defence
- SMCT (Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust)
- Cabrini Health
(the masks will strictly be worn in non-clinical settings, either to/from work or in corporate offices whilst staff maintain social distancing)
- The Doherty Institute
(the masks will strictly be worn in non-clinical settings, either to/from work or in corporate offices whilst staff maintain social distancing or are working from home)
- Simonds Homes
- Ballarat Group Practice
In most cases our masks are made up of three layers of fabric, which is the recommendation from authorities such as the DHHS (Department of Health and Human Services) and WHO (the World Health Organisation)
We’ve come to realise that a “one size” approach may not be the best option for everyone. Who would have thought the fit of a face mask would be almost as complicated as the fit of a garment.
We’ve now added a large mask to our range which are more suitable for those that need a little more room, as well as a smaller size mask which is ideal for children over 12 years old.
In addition, we’ve developed some options for men which are suitable for those with beards They’re a bit of fun as well as being highly practical.
This came about after there was a call out from ECA (Ethical Clothing Australia) after they’d received some feedback that there was a gap that needed filling.
We have a range of both two layer and three-layer fabric masks available online in different fabrics, from cotton, polyester and merino wool outers in a few different price points. We now have a few shape options from pleated to shaped face masks.
Through developing our face masks and scrubs, we decided to name the fabrics and styles after the frontline workers who’ve been working tirelessly to keep our community safe.
We’ve used names such as Aspiration, Vital, Inspire, Hero, Courage and Champ to name a few.
INTRODUCING OUR NEW DREAMTIME FACE MASKS
We've collaborated with Koh living & artist Kathleen Buzzacott to create these art inspired masks.
This mask is made from a solid 100% Cotton fabric and then lined with two layers of a light 100% cotton.
The artist is Kathleen Buzzacott of Pitjantjatjara descent - her designs are inspired by life experiences in a time free of modern technology. Each mask design will be slightly different to the image shown, as they are all made individually from Kathleen's artwork.
A percentage of each sale goes towards the artist.
See designs here - each with a seperate story for each print.
You can keep up to date on our mask options by regularly visiting our website - below is the link to our current range of face masks available in stock and for pre-order. Our masks are now available to despatch, besides our preorder styles, which will be despatched between 7-10 days.
We have been “all systems go” here at Fella Hamilton and could not have foreseen how busy we’d become or how much coverage we would receive in the press and on social media.
We’ve received some great PR as well as some fantastic write ups on our diversification during this tough time. We’re really thankful to those who recognise what we’re doing and how we’re helping the community.
We’ve received press and PR from some of the following outlets to name a few:
- The Age
- The Financial review
- ABC National radio
- The Australian Made Campaign
- Ethical Clothing Australia
- The ANZ CEO, Shayne Elliott - in the form of a LinkedIn interview
- SBS Business (Small Business Secrets)
You can read the Age article by clicking the below link:
Our CEO, Sharon Hamilton was also interviewed by Shayne Elliott, the CEO of ANZ Bank.
You can see this interview by clicking the below link:
We’re also excited to share with you all, that last week, we had a team from SBS come to our head office to film us at work in our factory.
We shared the story of how we pivoted our business from women’s fashion to producing PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) with all of Australia.
You can view this news report that was on SBS Saturday night by clicking on the below Facebook link:
Alternatively, please read the article on the SBS News website by clicking the below link:
We’ve been recognised for the fact that in a tough economy where people are losing their jobs, we’ve been able to not only keep our staff and makers employed but have also been able to employ extra casual staff from the travel industry to help us keep up with the demand on our reusable cloth face masks.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this little insight into our “Mask Frenzy” and that it gives you a better understanding on the process of making them as well as how we came to produce these in the first place.
If you have any queries about the masks you have ordered, please reach out to our customer care team via the following avenues:
Call us toll free on: 1800 800 86
One of our friendly staff will be able to assist you with your enquiry.
While face masks are required in Australia and while the demand still exists, we will continue to produce these for pre-order to all Australian residents.
We will also continue to produce and supply a range of PPE for retail and wholesale to customers and healthcare professionals. We’re proud to have been able to respond to the gap in the market and are excited to have this permanent change to our business.
Thank you so much for your understanding and support throughout these tough and uncertain times as well as being so understanding and patient with us in regards to the lead times we had faced and getting your orders prepared. Please note that Australia Post has also been experiencing their own delays which has unfortunately been out of our control. We are pleased that our lead time has now significantly reduced.
Team Fella Hamilton xx