The nation has become familiar with seeing the First Minister over the last few months as she delivered almost daily updates on the Covid-19 pandemic. 

However, one sighting of Nicola Sturgeon started a business boom for a company that even they could not predict. 

The First Minister sported a tartan face mask during a visit to Fort Kinnaird in Edinburgh when outlining the new rules in place for shoppers in the battle against Covid-19. 

While Nicola Sturgeon announced new measures at the retail park on the east coast, her appearance sparked a flurry of activity for one retailer in the west. 

HeraldScotland: First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, wearing a Tartan face mask during a visit to New Look at Ford Kinaird Retail Park in Edinburgh.First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, wearing a Tartan face mask during a visit to New Look at Ford Kinaird Retail Park in Edinburgh.

As soon as the pictures of the First Minister in the tartan facemask hit newsstands across the country, Slanj in Glasgow were inundated with “a tsunami of orders” which resulted in record-breaking sales and the urgent un-furloughing of staff.

Speaking exclusively to The Herald, Slanj Managing director Brian Halley said that sales of the mask, which sees 20% go to Shelter Scotland, picked up immediately after the First Minister was pictured wearing their product. He said: “They were picking up steadily but when Nicola wore the mask we had a tsunami of orders.

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“We went from looking at redundancies to recruiting and have raised over £30k for Shelter Scotland. 

“The wedding trade disappeared this summer so it was a very tricky time during lockdown. It’s all positive now, having the demand and the capacity to manufacture in Scotland is massively important for Slanj and the economy.”

Prior to the appearance, they had sold 300 units but since the First Minister was pictured wearing the tartan mask they have sold over 20,000 units in a week. 

Such demand had a stark impact on the future of the business, which recorded the equivalent of 12 years’ worth of orders in the week after Nicola Sturgeon’s appearance.  

Speaking on the business boom, Brian Halley said: “We have taken on family and friends on a temporary business and hoping to make some of their positions permanent.

"We are also greatly helped by the Nifty Home Stitchers who were formed to make scrubs for the NHS at the height of the pandemic. 

He added: “Whilst we are overwhelmed by the response to the masks, we are mindful why people are buying them and that is keeping our feet on the ground.

“It is all hands to the pumps to fulfil the orders and we have had to turn a trews factory into a mask factory in a few days. 

“Our staff have been great as they return from furlough.”


He also confirmed that discussions with Shelter Scotland were taking place to discuss how best to spend the money raised from sales of the facemask saying: “We are in discussions with Shelter to see what is the best way to spend the money raised. It’s sitting at over £32k currently in just nine days. We are also looking to work with other charities and organisations.”

Gillian Martin MSP said: “As we start to interact more, it’s vital that we take all reasonable steps to reduce the risk of transmission.

“By wearing a face covering and putting measures in place that give us the confidence to enjoy the easing of lockdown restrictions, we can protect those who are at risk of getting this virus.

“This is an important way for all of us to help protect each other, and it’s welcome to see companies like Slanj displaying a sense of community and solidarity by donating part of their sale proceeds to tackling homelessness.” 

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Keith Brown, the SNP's depute leader, said: "It is encouraging to see the vast majority of people wearing face coverings in shops and on public transport.

"We all need to do our bit in this collective endeavour and face coverings - regardless of style - help stop the spread of virus."

In Scotland, face coverings are required on public transport, and it will be compulsory to wear them in shops from July 10.

Alison Watson, Director of Shelter Scotland, said: “Now more than ever we are grateful for support from companies like Slanj as donations ensure we can be here for people facing homelessness or bad housing during this health crisis.”