Where to buy fashionable face masks

Adam's face mask vending machines can already be found outside many local shops

Adam's face mask vending machines can already be found outside many local shops - Credit: Archant

When coronavirus struck, local entrepreneur Adam Freeman quickly saw a business opportunity in face masks - not just the common and garden variety, but designer ones direct from vending machines

What’s your background?

I’m a local lad, living in Abridge with an office in Debden. I’m 42, married with three lovely children. I started my own mobile phone company called Phunky Phones at 18, and sold it aged 23 to Monster Mob. I was due to go on The Apprentice just after my daughter Peyton was born, but when I found out that I couldn’t call home to my wife more than once a week for eight weeks I decided not to continue, which was a shame as I’m sure I would have won! Since then I’ve run my own finance company called Mr Lender. We’ve been going for ten years and employ 200 people.

How did your new venture, Maskey, come about?

As the Covid-19 pandemic took hold I ordered some face masks via an online company, and I was really disappointed with the quality when they arrived. I realised there was an opportunity to create good quality, easily available masks, so I did some online research and registered the Maskey name and trademark. My idea was to have face mask vending machines outside shops, as well as offering them online. A friend helped me with the website side of things and I adapted a vending machine to hold face masks and accept contactless payments.

Where is your project now?

From May 10 we had our first machine outside Mace, the convenience store in Chigwell village, with the masks quickly selling out. Within two weeks we had ten machines out on the streets in Essex, places like Southend on Sea, Woodford station, Loughton and Basildon. I have another 25 machines on order and every day I get an email enquiring about more locations. Our latest is in Hamleys toy store in London!

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Are standard face masks only available via your vending machines?

No, people can access both our standard face mask and designer face mask via the machines, but there’s also our website available for orders and personalised/embroidered designs. At the moment the Black Lives Matter slogan is understandably popular.

Can consumers have confidence in the safety measures in place?

Definitely! Each order (whether vending machine or online) is contactless payment only, each of the face masks has been steam cleaned and quarantined for three days, plus each one comes in an airtight, sealed plastic pouch. The vending machine masks have been quarantined for a further 72 hours and come in a box with full instructions on use and care. The price is reasonable too, £6 for a plain black or pink, £8 each for a ‘designer’ one. They are reusable, machine or hand washable and have been tested for up to 50 washes. Our machines currently hold up to 250 masks, but the new machines I have on order will hold 350.

Do you use a face mask?

Of course! I have one I use when I go into shops or out and about – I keep it in my car.

What’s your advice for local budding entrepreneurs?

Use this pandemic situation to your advantage. Just because the world stops you don’t have to. Don’t stop life – do one new thing every day and learn how to adapt – just look at how video conferencing has taken off!