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Resilience during Covid-19 has many faces. Transforming opportunities can be an important part of the process.

Lyn and David McPherson bought The Ark Clothing Company, more than four years ago and have six stores in Victoria, stores in Sydney and Adelaide and an online store. The company is ethically accredited from  Ethical Clothing Australia and the designs are all Australian made.

When Covid-19 hit, The Ark’s retail and manufacturing was significantly impacted.

Yet Lyn and David saw an opportunity to expand on another part of their business model, Thread Group Australia, established in 2020 to provide healthcare, hospitality and corporate Australian made apparel for businesses. Thread Group Australia was able to utilise the expertise, skills and strategies of The Ark Clothing Company.

“We were quick to move to making fabric masks for community usage with surgical masks being prioritised for frontline healthcare workers,” says David. “This ability was wholly reliant upon the transferrable skills of our amazing Ark staff, from design to pattern-making to production. We tested a number of different styles and feel we have perfected a comfortable, three-layered, WHO compliant design.”

This was met with encouraging success, leading to an opportunity to fulfil orders for the Victorian state government and a number of other local manufacturers. Thread Group Australia also produced PPE apparel for hospitals, aged care facilities and respiratory clinics. Creative Spirit, an Indigenous packaging supplier, was enlisted to provide boxes for mask and PPE orders. The Ark Clothing Company continued to make beautiful fashion pieces that were available in store and online.

Support and guidance from IBA enabled The Ark Clothing Company and Thread Group Australia to continue to manufacture fashion pieces, community masks and PPE for Australians when they needed it most during Covid-19. David and Lyn are grateful to IBA for reaching out and for the provision of skilled assistance and encouragement to navigate the challenges of the pandemic.

Eventually, it will be back to business as usual for The Ark Clothing Company but until then we wish them all the best . The Ark collaborates with the Marninwarntikura Women’s Resource Centre in Fitzroy Crossing, which supports Indigenous women via social enterprise programs. This support comes with the “Boab Nut” project, with The Ark selling nuts hand-painted by many of the women, helping them earn and income, with which comes confidence and independence. More than 1500 have been sold through The Ark retail and online stores since 2014.