Heather Ashberry is a designer and the owner of Beatrice Wormwood. She also is a yoga teacher/ambassador with Albany Yoga Project and a barista at Temp Coffee Co. Heather graduated from Georgia Southwestern State University in 2010 with a BFA in Painting and Drawing, and has been pursuing her creative career path ever since. Her creativity is helping medical workers and others in the Albany area during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Q: What have you done in response to the COVID-19 pandemic?
HA: COVID-19 was a call to action for me. I’ve been a seamstress for 11 years and it’s a much-needed skillset during this time.
Q: When did you start and how many masks have you made?
HA: I started two weeks before the shelter in place order, preparing to order supplies by selling Rosie Hair Wraps, a Beatrice Wormwood product. I volunteered through Phoebe Volunteer Services and did 200 masks for them in less than a week. Since then, I have been making masks on my own for other departments in Phoebe for medical workers and other medical facilities. I’ve now made over 620 and counting, and there is no way that that would have been possible without the incredible ladies from The Ginger and Fig, Beth Crain and Trista Yarborough.
Q: How did your background in art and yoga inspire you to do this?
HA: Yoga is about showing up for yourself so that you can show up for others. It’s the same practice of showing up to my sewing machine each day. Every day is different and new things come up, and you have to see new possibilities in things and circumstances. Being of service to others is what yoga is about.
Q: How has this pandemic impacted you personally and professionally?
HA: Personally, I have friends and family working on the front lines of this pandemic and it’s unbelievable what they are experiencing right now.
Professionally, there was a small break from my day job, so I focused on my business by making and selling hair wraps to get supplies shipped to me to be able to give these masks to those that needed them. The ways that I do deliveries and pick-ups has changed to a no-contact policy and following recommendations for masks, washing and sanitizing hands and surfaces, etc. I’ve also started to put out live videos to help people to create their own masks with things they already have around their homes.
Q: How do you keep mentally healthy in these difficult times?
HA: I have to remember to take breaks from making masks. So, I might take a day to dye fabrics and design new products in my sketchbook instead. I also value my selfcare rituals: Quiet morning coffee, shower and skincare rituals, and occasionally popping on my favorite lipstick makes me feel pretty empowered for the day.
Q: Any advice for those who want to make their own safety masks, such as what materials they need and where they can find designs?
HA: For those who want to make their own masks: Go for it! You don’t have to know how to sew to make a quick mask for an “essential” outing.
• Marker, pen or even your kids’ sidewalk chalk
• Fabric: Go to your closets and look for cotton fabric—t-shirts, cute dusters from last season, bandannas, old pajama pants
•Measuring tools: Rulers, tape measure product, even a cereal box with a straight edge
I’ve been creating live videos for those who don’t sew so that anyone can make their own masks and don’t have to wait to have them made for them. I’m using Facebook Live, as well as my Instagram Live.
See Heather's Facebook video with instructions for making a no-sew mask HERE.
Heather shows you how to make a bandanna into a mask in her Facebook video HERE.
Heather talks about care for your safety masks on her Facebook video HERE.
Q: When all of this is finally behind us, what is the first thing you want to do?
HA: I want to be able to hang out with my friends and loved ones in person, and actually be able to hug them.