MONTREAL -- When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it didn’t matter how established you were as a brand. You were closed.

Clothing designer Tristan has been a top fashion brand since 1973, and had its boutique doors closed like the rest, but president Lili Fortin did not stop working. She answered the call from public health officials and started making plastic masks for front-line workers.

“With the big COVID virus crisis, some of my contacts in the health-care system raised the flag about the urgent need for face shields and they asked me if our manufacturer could produce face shields,” she said.

Fortin spoke to her factory director about the possibility of making face shields after the pandemic spread, and what was needed to start constructing the devices and began making prototypes.

“It ended up working out that our machines were working for plastics. In a matter of a couple of days we had prototypes,” she said.

The fashion retailer had the infrastructure in place already to start producing the products and within a week had Health Canada approval.

“A couple days later, we were distributing to hospital and people on the front line,” said Fortin.

The company has been delivering hundreds of face shields every day since last week.

Seeing the products being used throughout the pandemic is a new experience for Fortin.

“It feels a bit surreal,” she said. “Everything happened so quickly… I’m happy that the product responds to the people on the front line because that was the main goal for us was just to help them and to show support. I’m happy that the product meets the requirements.”