In times of disruption, we are faced with no other option but to adapt as quickly as possible. The COVID-19 health pandemic has surely presented as one of the most severe global challenges of this century, imposing a need for individuals to physically distance and lockdowns on all non-essential businesses. However, it has also created a sense of unity between people and this should not go without being noticed.
In response to the current health pandemic, many brands, small and big, have quickly pivoted their operation strategy to help fight the spread of the virus. In Toronto, one local business is making bamboo face masks available to its community. Trend Hunter spoke to Melanie Wong—deisgner and founder of Olive + Splash—about her face mask drive-thru idea and the future after COVID-19.
Can you tell us a little bit about your business—Olive + Splash?
Olive + Splash is a collection of unisex athleisure clothing that reflects the fashion-forward spirit of the trendy and well-suited. Our materials and clothing are ethically sourced and handmade by people we trust and environments we support. We offer a variety of designs and styles that will complement anybody. Our exclusive selection of butter-soft, eco-friendly bamboo apparel is proudly made in Canada.
We use bamboo because it is a really amazing, adaptable material. It is a powerhouse when protecting the planet's resources, it has built-in temperature controls to keep you warm in the cold and cooler in the heat. In addition, bamboo is a breathable material that does not contain harmful chemicals and is hypoallergenic with a similar feel to silk. It's also UV-resistant and proven to have a 99.98% antibacterial rate, ensuring an odorless experience.
As an independent business, in what ways has the pandemic impacted you?
There are always positive and negative sides to every situation. Unfortunately, some wholesale deals have been placed on pause and my customers cannot come inside the studio due to the pandemic. However, Olive + Splash has adapted well to the situation and we have pivoted our business to fit the current landscape by designing stylish face masks that will give you the protection you need to run errands while looking fashionable. We have opened a drive-thru to allow customers to pick-up their orders.
How did the idea about a drive-thru mask shop come to you? Why the drive-thru format?
The drive-thru started because of social distancing. I could not have the public come into my studio to purchase apparel and this was a creative and convenient way for customers to continue to receive the apparel and face-masks they love in a contact-less environment. It's really easy all they have to do is order online, pull-up, pick-up, and drive away.
What has the response been to your wonderful initiative?
The response has been overwhelming on so many levels. The customers love what we are doing and keep coming back for more, which is heart-warming. I work the drive-thru every day from 10 am-2 pm and the people I get to meet are wonderful, I literally have to pinch myself. I love it so much, the drive-thru is here to stay and we are looking to extend our hours very soon.
What will the world look like for small/medium businesses in the aftermath of the pandemic?
I think we are already seeing some of the consequences and shifts of this pandemic. Some businesses have closed their doors will not re-open. We will see downsizing of larger operations; working from home or more desirable areas will be a reality; online shopping and door-to-door delivery will increase; online meetings will be the new boardroom; traveling for work will decrease and VR will explode.