As someone whose business has always moved at lightning speed, it is no surprise that lockdown for local entrepreneur Brendan McDowell proved a busy and productive time.
As 2,000 shops worldwide who stock his BPerfect cosmetics shut their doors, Brendan decided straightaway that he would not be sitting back for three months while sales flopped.
Not only did he figure out a way to keep his 40 staff working through lockdown, but they managed to launch a new product, develop a whole new cosmetics range, grow online sales by 400% and be shortlisted for a top award.
This summer, Brendan (37) should have been jetting off to South Africa as an all-Ireland finalist in the prestigious Ernest & Young Entrepreneur of the Year competition as well as flying to Italy and Holland to launch his cosmetics.
But wasting no time dwelling on disappointment, he has been spurred on by the challenge of lockdown, so that he and his team are now emerging from it with a new impetus, new strategy and a new vision for the future of BPerfect.
"As we entered lockdown, we had literally just moved the week before to new premises in Lisburn to accommodate our growth - they are four times the size of our previous space and include three warehouses and a huge office," he explains.
"Lockdown was announced and the team and I went into shock, but after a few hours of listening and monitoring the changing news, we decided to get our heads down and get a plan in place, to not only survive, but to thrive.
"And I am over the moon that we have done just that. We have emerged stronger as a team than we went into it.
"When we moved into the new premises, I have to be honest and say it did cause a little trepidation due to the sheer scale of the place, but as lockdown down happened and social distancing was introduced, we quickly realised it was a blessing."
The new premises provide huge warehouses and offices, allowing for safe social distancing of staff, which would not have been possible at their old offices in Belfast.
"We were able to operate at full capacity, whilst safeguarding the health and wellbeing of our entire team," says Brendan. "It also meant we were able to retain everyone's employment and no one had to be furloughed."
Brendan, who lives in Belfast with his partner Tony Benson (33), a researcher at Queen's University, is originally from Annalong.
His is a classic rags-to-riches story. After failing his GCSEs, he studied for an NVQ in construction and then went on to university, which he very quickly decided wasn't for him.
At the age of 20, he began a decade-long career as a salesman and proved a natural, making it to the top in a number of companies he worked for.
But, on turning 30, he decided he wanted to run his own business. He had just £500 - and a steely determination. He flew to a trade show in London and bought a range of "gadgets" which he brought home and tested on friends.
"I read the book The Secret on the way home and that changed my mindset and made me really positive," he says.
"Out of all the gadgets and crazy things I picked up, my friends really liked an eyebrow kit and so I decided to go with that.
"I bought 50 of them and went to the Kennedy Centre in Belfast and set up a stall and they sold out in the first day.
"A week later, I bought 100 and went to the Abbey Centre for a week and sold them. I then thought there was no point selling someone else's brand, so I did some research on manufacturing.
"I ordered some samples which, went back and forward from different factories, and finally developed my own eye-brow kit which we added oil to in order to make it waterproof."
BPerfect Cosmetics was born and is a favourite brand of top beauty bloggers who have huge influence in the industry.
His now famous BPerfect LMD Master Palette was the first to be mentioned by a blogger and, as a result, he couldn't make enough of them to meet demand.
UK make-up artist Stacey Murray, who has a huge international following on social media and is regarded as a real trendsetter within the industry, was the next to promote the products. Then top US blogger MMMMitchell picked them up and raved about them.
Sales continued to soar globally and the brand is now so sought after that the launch of a new product last year saw international bloggers and influencers fly into Belfast for a chance to be the first to try it.
It was then a natural step for Brendan to harness the power of social media to engage his online audience when shops shut during lockdown.
The company has added an amazing 70,000 new followers to its Instagram account alone during the last three months, bringing its total following to almost half a million people.
"We thought there could be an opportunity here as there are a lot of people at home and we decided to mix up our marketing and try and keep people entertained with fitness tutorials and how to do your nails at home and tips for eyebrows," Brendan says.
"Not only did we engage the audience, but that also led to the increased sales online. We also ran a few offers of the type we would only do on Black Friday and the demand was insane.
"Our online sales really took off and we couldn't keep up with orders. We had a huge backlog at one stage.
"We even sold out of our Ten Second Tan and had to bring forward the launch of our latest product, our Ten Second Tanning Strawberry scented lotion. It sold in huge quantities through our website and online platforms.
"It has been an uncertain time in the world for everyone, but one thing was for sure and that was our customers stayed loyal and we managed to grow our online sales by 400%."
Giving his team tasks to do to avoid them being furloughed was a priority for Brendan from day one. For his New Product Development (NPD) team, working from home proved particularly fruitful and customers will be thrilled to know that more products are due for launch in the coming weeks.
"It was good for the NPD team to work from home as they were able to get more done," he says.
"Our third carnival palette, which was due to launch this year, has not only been designed, but we now have a full collection to go with it which features 11 different lines."
Being free of the usual day-to-day running of the offline part of the business also gave Brendan and his team the luxury of time to take stock of the business overall.
It was an unusual time of reflection for a company which has always been run at 100mph, as Brendan explains: "To say that the past few years since we launched have been a whirlwind would be an understatement. We feel like we have always been running to catch up.
"So we were able to sit down regularly as a team and discuss where we are, how we got here and where we are going.
"We have been able to take a close look at logistics, processing and how each of our departments are communicating.
"We were able to move staff about to meet demand, which meant cross department learning and understanding, which ultimately strengthened our team and knowledge base.
"We also got time to spend investing in doing the office up to be an amazing space to work, shoot our video content and meet new clients in. It has exceeded everyone's expectations and is a brilliant space to work in."
While product launches in Italy and Holland had to be cancelled, the company was able to open new markets in Romania and Hungary last month.
And on top of all the lockdown activity, came the announcement that Brendan had been shortlisted as a finalist is the highly regarded Ernest & Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards.
The event, which was due to be staged in South Africa this month, has now been put back to September when it will be staged in Dublin.
Brendan adds: "Being shortlisted for the EY award - and being only one of two from Northern Ireland - is such an honour.
"I am disappointed not to get to South Africa with the other finalists, but you can't dwell too much on what might have been."
And with lockdown easing, Brendan will be as busy as ever.
"As beauty salons get ready to reopen, our retail orders are up again," he reveals.
We are looking forward to the next few months with renewed hope, new ideas and new products ready to roll out."