Boss Babes: Hannah & Lucinda
Company: The Pretty Mask Company
Tell me a bit about your business.
We are Hannah & Lucinda, two best friends/flatmates that make up The Pretty Mask Company. We started our business during lockdown and we sell handmade sustainable face masks and personalised embroidered accessories such as mask pouches and tote bags.
What made you decide to start it?
I think we were probably at a bit of a loose end! Lockdown #1 was in full swing and we had exhausted the wine drinking/Netflix binging/jigsaw puzzling stage of staying at home. Hannah was furloughed full time and with Lucy working from home, we had plenty of spare time to take up the hobby of making some facemasks for friends and family. As soon as the wearing of face masks became more expected, we both really hated the idea of disposable masks and knew we wanted to make our own. After sharing some photos on Instagram, other people quickly got in touch and asked us to make more, which led to the beginning of The Pretty Mask Co!
What’s a typical day/week like in your shoes?
Life is very different to how it was in lockdown when we first started the business. We are now both back at our day jobs full time, with Hannah back in the office, so it’s a juggle to maintain our ‘real jobs’ alongside our business each week. Lucinda makes all of the masks by hand (putting her Fashion Design degree to great use!) so a typical day/week for her involves making stock, preparing orders and adding to inventory as well as doing the all-important daily post office drops! Hannah spends evenings wrapping orders ready to be sent out the following day, as well as handling all customer service, social media and content aspects of the job. We typically spend at least one day of the weekend shooting content for our Instagram, as well as updating our website and fabric shopping (for now, virtually until the shops allow us back!)
What’s been the most difficult thing to get your head around when you started up?
Probably the management of orders. It was a real learning curve when we started as we had a big influx of orders very quickly. Not long after we started our Instagram, there were days when we had over 100 DM’s, with people all hoping to place orders and we knew that we just wouldn’t be able to fulfil them all by ourselves. It was hard to acknowledge that we needed to take a step back, build a website and start making stock instead of items being made to order, but we’re so glad we did and business is now a lot more sustainable for both of us!
Have you encountered any hiccups along the way?
It’s been so interesting seeing how some products/designs perform compare to how we thought they would. We’ve definitely launched styles of masks and accessories that we were sure would do well and just haven’t performed as we hoped. It’s great though, getting to know what our target market is looking for. We both geek out over our website analytics – seeing how each product performs and how the content on our Instagram is received.
How do you stay motivated?
Motivation comes and goes, in the run up to Christmas we definitely felt like we were running out of steam. We had not taken a proper day off since beginning the business in April and were working late into the night after work every day. But ultimately, our motivation comes from loving what we do and what we have started. It’s something that fulfils us creatively and the possibility of where we could grow our business really excites us. The long-term goal has always been to be able to work for ourselves full time and we’re hoping that with hard work and great support from our lovely customers, this will become a possibility.
What’s your main marketing took/social media platform? Are there any you want to try out that you haven’t had a chance to yet?
We’re a born and bred Instagram brand! It’s where we started The Pretty Mask Company and where we conduct all of our marketing/social media outreach. That being said, we would love to work on being featured in print media as we’re both such big magazine readers and love reading about products and brands in this way. As with everyone else, we’re both completely obsessed with scrolling TikTok at the moment! The #smallbusiness side of TikTok is such an amazing resource for other small businesses just starting out and it’s something we’ve thought about dipping our toes into at some point.
What’s next for your business?
For the moment, masks remain our main focus as the demand for beautiful, sustainable face coverings is definitely still there. We extended into personalised embroidered accessories last year and hope to definitely continue to offer more embroidered products that make sense to our brand – people love a personalised item and they are so much fun for us to design! Further in the future, we can definitely see ourselves expanding into other clothing items…we have some plans in the works!
Do you have any advice for other women looking to start their own business?
Definitely take the time to find your niche and have a clear vision of what product/service you want to provide. Once you have that – it’s so simple to say but you have to just start! We learnt so much as we went along that we had never even considered in the beginning and it’s been a real education for us both. There’s no right time to learn the processes involved in starting a small business, it really something that needs to be learned on the job. Also, be prepared to play the role of every staff member in the beginning! You will find yourself acting as the business manager/accountant/customer service provider/HR department…it’s all on you which can feel quite overwhelming to begin with.
What do you do to relax?
At the moment, we do as much as we’re allowed to do – go on walks! We love wandering around Edinburgh, particularly our local Stockbridge cafes and shops. We’re also avid reality TV consumers – any Real Housewives or Married at First Sight hits the spot at the moment.
And lastly, what did you have for breakfast?
Hannah: The same as every morning – eggs and avocado on toast, covered in hot sauce!
Lucinda: A chocolate croissant for me!
Thanks Hannah and Lucinda! Great getting to know a bit about your life as boss babes! If you're interested in getting your hands on one of their masks then head over to their Instagram page @theprettymaskcompany for all the info you need. x