British Columbia

Mask-maker's home business hits a snag after visit from Victoria bylaw officer

Victoria resident Fatima Lichty started selling “Mama’s Masks” from a table in the driveway at her daughter’s Victoria home. Business was good, until there was a visit from Victoria Bylaw Services.

Fatima Lichty was selling masks from her daughter's driveway before being asked to apply for a licence

After Fatima Lichty made homemade masks for her family, she decided to set up shop in front of her daughter's house. (@mamas.masks/Instagram)

Victoria resident Fatima Lichty started selling her own homemade masks from a table in the driveway at her daughter's Victoria home and business was good, until there was a visit from Victoria Bylaw Services along with a potential fine of $275. 

"I would never intentionally break the law but I just can't understand it," said Lichty to host Kathryn Marlow on CBC's All Points West. 

Lichty had dusted off her sewing machine and made some masks for her family members, including her son-in-law who is immunocompromised. She started 'Mama's Masks' after her designs caught on with his coworkers. 

"They said they're so well-made, the colours are wild, and then he came and said, 'Would you make masks for my co-workers? They're willing to pay,'" she said. 

"I said, 'Oh boy. Go get material and we'll make masks!'"

Fatima Lichty's homemade mask designs were popular with her immediate family, so she branched out to selling them to the public. (@mamas.masks/Instagram )

Lichty had her stall set up on the driveway for two Saturdays. Her daughter's house is across from the Moss Street Farmers' Market, in the city's Fairfield neighbourhood, and she said by the second week, she had sold out of her masks within a few hours. 

"I was so happy. Everyone was giving me compliments," she said.

Unfortunately by the second week, Lichty said someone complained and a bylaw officer arrived, saying if the business continued, she would be issued a fine.

A spokesperson for the City of Victoria told CBC in a statement that it encourages small scale entrepreneurship — with a licence.

"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," it read. 

"It's an easy process: both of these licences can be applied for online or by contacting the City's Business Licensing staff."

Lichty said she'll be looking into that process, even though it is disappointing to have her momentum slowed down.

"I love making people happy," said Lichty. 

Listen to the interview with Fatima Lichty on CBC's All Points West: