TWO childhood friends and entrepreneurs from Henley-in-Arden are staving off the pandemic’s impact on their businesses by collaborating on a timely new community venture.
Henley House and Henley Printing have joined forces to produce branded face masks responding to a forecast demand driven by easing of lockdown restrictions.
They’re also supporting neighbouring local charity Molly Olly’s Wishes which will receive a percentage of the profits.
Both businesses, which have been forced to close throughout lockdown, are already seeing a huge demand for the masks from other local firms.
Ste Barrett, owner of Henley Printing, which designs and prints clothing and uniforms, said: “Early demand has been crazy. We received 150 orders in the first 24 hours alone and it’s not stopped since! Most local businesses have now ordered the customised masks, including restaurants, pubs, butchers, builders, and hairdressers. Not just logos – we’ve also had orders for rainbows, smiley faces and even football club emblems.
“We feel that as we are nearing the end of lockdown the need for facemasks is vital in keeping ourselves healthy therefore hopefully taking the strain off the NHS.
Ste, who is being supported in his efforts by his girlfriend Sally James, added: “Having been friends for years, we have helped each other out business wise with uniform making and helping each other source materials and suppliers, so decided to collaborate on this new venture as we are all out of work due to the coronavirus, this way helping both of our businesses to survive as well as helping the community to stay safe.”
Tom Cross took over the running of Henley House from his father Adrian recently, a few years after moving from Birmingham. The specialist High Street menswear and grooming business, has been flooded with orders from local firms, all attracted to the customised concept.
And he wasted no time in bringing his old St Mary’s Primary School friend – and fellow businessman – Ste – on board.
“It’s been really tough. I needed to come up with an idea of something to keep the business afloat because our main source of revenue, weddings, have all been postponed. I also have a barber’s in the shop as part of the business and we have no idea how long it’s going to be before that is allowed to carry on either,” said Tom.
“I woke up one Sunday morning and thought, it would be a great idea to add logos, so reached out to Ste to see if he wanted to get involved, and it went from there.”
He added: “I think the time is exactly right for this sort of thing as I believe it will soon be mandatory for everyone to wear them outside.”
Both men have pledged a donation to Warwick-based charity Molly Olly’s Wishes which supports children with terminal or life-limiting illness and which recently worked with a family in the Henley community.
The charity gifted Henley teenager Ella Richards, who was last year diagnosed with cancer, with a £500 Bullring shopping voucher.
Sixteen-year-old Ella, who is shielding due to the pandemic, says the shopping sprees helped her stay positive throughout her gruelling treatment journey as she was able to purchase false eyelashes and eyebrow products to help her overcome the hair loss – as well as indulging in her favourite jewellery at Pandora.
“Molly Olly’s were there for me at the most difficult time in my life. Their gift gave me something to look forward to on the most difficult days of my treatment and helped keep me positive,” said Ella.
“I am so happy that local businesses are supporting a charity that is so close to my heart and the face masks they are making could help make a real difference to vulnerable and shielding people and families like ourselves.”
The charity was established in 2011 following the death of Rachel and Tim Ollerenshaw’s eight-year-old daughter Molly from a rare kidney cancer.
It works to support children with terminal or life-limiting illnesses and their families and help with their emotional wellbeing as well as grant wishes and donate therapeutic toys and books to both children directly and to hospitals throughout the UK.
Mascot of the charity is a therapeutic toy lion called Olly The Brave who has his own Hickman line and a detachable mane which helps to explain and normalise the effects of chemotherapy. These form part of an Olly The Brave pack that has now been handed out to more than 40 hospitals, along with a book from the charity’s exclusive Olly The Brave series.
Rachel Ollerenshaw said: “Molly Olly’s Wishes are very grateful to the teams at Henley House and Henley Printing for their support at what is a time of particular need for the charity which has been severely impacted by COVID-19.
“We are so grateful to people for still thinking about us during what are such challenging times for their own businesses – and look forward to receiving our branded Molly Olly masks.”
Further information about Molly Olly’s Wishes or how to donate can be found at: www.mollyolly.co.uk