By Cam Lucadou-Wells
A Dandenong fashion store is providing thousands of free reuseable protective masks while its shopfront is closed under stage-4 Covid restrictions.
Libas by Perfect Scissors owner Manmeet Kaur and her family have hand-made and donated 4500 masks to Victoria Police, health authorities, Greater Dandenong Council, charities and individuals since March.
The elastic-loop design is customised, including a larger size for wearers with beards, hearing aids and turbans.
There’s also a choice of colours, and a choice of two or three layers of fabric.
Her masks are being ordered across Australia – with a nominal charge to cover costs such as shipping and materials.
“We’re doing the best we can,” Ms Kaur said.
“Once the Covid hit, we had no business – and we thought what would we do next.
“People are struggling with job losses so we thought why don’t we do something to serve the community?”
Working up to 10 hour days, Ms Kaur has had to limit giveaways to two per person.
Some unscrupulous people were taking up to 25 each to re-sell for personal gain.
Ms Kaur is unperturbed by the economic shutdown.
A decade ago, her business was closed when Revitalising Central Dandenong works shut down the Foster Street precinct for years.
Several businesses didn’t survive, but Libas revived.
A former university lecturer in India, Ms Kaur arrived in Australia in 2006 with her family, five suitcases and no money.
She worked unsatisfying factory-shifts before starting her business.
“This country has given us a lot,” Ms Kaur said.
“I’m enjoying it and it’s our way of showing our appreciation.”