A Victoria woman’s mask-making hobby might become a small business thanks to a visit from a bylaw officer.
Fatima Lichty started making masks and scrub caps for family, but when the colourful patterns and high-quality material started drawing inquiries, she decided to sell them from her daughter’s driveway at the corner of Moss Street and Fairfield Road.
Lichty set up a small stand on Aug. 8, selling her handmade creations while the Moss Street Market went on nearby. Sold as “Mama’s Masks,” the items were popular and almost sold out, but the burgeoning business came to an abrupt halt when a City of Victoria bylaw officer came by, warning Lichty that she needed a licence to sell her goods.
“I have the gift of sewing, and thought, ‘Why not share it with people,’ ” Lichty said. “We didn’t know much about the laws around it. It was just a miscommunication, but I learned so much about the bylaws … the city has been excellent with us …and very helpful about giving us ideas.”
One of those ideas included mobile bicycle vending. Lichty’s daughter has helped her to apply for a licence that may allow her to sell the masks and caps by bike, stopping in different areas for up to one hour at a time.
“It is the best one we found without all the red tape. I can hardly wait, it’s been so many years since I’ve ridden a bicycle,” she said with a laugh. “Victoria, look out!”
Bill Eisenhauer, spokesperson for the City of Victoria said, “The City of Victoria encourages small scale entrepreneurship. There are several licensing options for people who are looking to sell homemade products from their home or throughout the city, including applying for a home-based or market retail licence or the city’s new mobile vending licence.”
Applications can be found online, Eisenhauer said, and the city’s business hub is available to assist applicants.
For Lichty, the experience has been an exciting adventure. She works four days a week as a nanny and only started making masks to help keep her family safe. For now, the avid sewer will put on a final sale on her daughter’s driveway next Saturday before making Mama’s Masks a licensed business.
“We never thought of [getting] a licence, I just thought it was a hobby,” she said. “Never, never in my life I thought it would be my job. I just love sewing for fun.”