GOLOCAL

Facebook is a lifeline for a lot of small businesses. But Whanganui clothing manufacturers Mindzye Fashions is finding out just how precarious it can be to rely on them after their account was shut down five weeks ago.

Concerned by the shortage of personal protection equipment for dealing with Covid-19, the Mindzye team researched, prototyped and produced 1000 masks. Mindzye put a post on their Facebook page to say they had the masks for sale if anybody needed them.

Little did they know, Facebook had banned the sale of masks due to profiteering around the world.

"I went to message some clients back and couldn't message them," said owner, Sara Fredrickson. "It just said you are no longer able to do this."

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Facebook had closed Fredrickson's page without bothering to notice that her company was actually part of the solution, rather part of the problem.

"I felt really bad about selling anything for profit at this time because everyone's going through difficult times," she said. "The cost of making them, labour and material, was $2.66 and that is what we were selling them for."

"We were making no cream on top. It did keep my staff going during those couple of weeks until the subsidy kicked in, so I could fully employ them. And we made at least 1000 masks. We also gave some away to people in need."

Reluctant to lose their followers by starting a new page Fredrickson kept trying to contact Facebook to have the issue resolved, but despite repeatedly following Facebook's instructions they have had no luck. Five weeks on and still there's been no progress.

Mindzye stand by their decision to make masks saying if they protect health workers, they protect the public.

"My partner is immune-compromised," Fredrickson said. "Before this came to New Zealand we asked the specialists, who recommended he not leave the house and if I go out to do shopping, then I need to be wearing a mask to protect myself from getting it, so I don't pass it o nto him. Because of course, there's a great chance I would recover really quickly and there's a great chance that he would never recover."

Despite Facebook's lack of contact, Mindzye have setup their own contactless sales counter in their industrial workshop at 27b Hatrick St West in Gonville.

Customers can drop off garments for alterations, and of course, buy face masks in packs of three for $8 or bespoke masks made to order.

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