While I was looking online for some fun Disney items, I ran across a man whose paintings are unbelievable. And through this man, Steve, I met his amazing wife, Sandra Huntsman, whose talent goes beyond anything I have seen. She is a huge Disney fan and not only loves the Theater but works in the theater business with making costumes and even has performed herself. But once the pandemic hit, things changed, sadly the theater had to close, and instead of staying down, Sandra picked herself up and made something that is needed in this day and age- masks. I asked her if she would mind doing an interview with me and I am so happy that she said yes. So allow me to introduce you to Sandra Huntsman, the woman behind Sandra Sews.
1. What inspired you to make masks for the pandemic?
To be totally honest, I had no interest in making masks initially. I had no desire to step foot into my workroom. I was devastated because the theatrical production I was working on was cancelled 2 weeks before opening night and my work room was covered in unfinished costumes. But I started seeing a need for them – my friend started a group to make them for charity and I donated a bunch of fabric I had. And decided to look into making them myself – I found a pattern online and I started figuring out how I wanted to make them. My husband’s cousin contacted me to see if I could make some for her husband and his team who were in health care. It just kind of took off from there and while at first I didn’t feel right about charging for them and didn’t really advertise them, but my friends all know that I sew and were very generous with tips. In May, I decided to embrace that it’s a need and that I could fill, and it could be a way to help with our income, so I created a Facebook Page and eventually a store front and hunted down fun fabrics and went for it!
2. How long have you been sewing for?
I’ve been sewing since I was 6 years old. So most of my life, but I really started sewing seriously about 17 years ago.
3. What other items do you make besides masks?
My main focus has always been costumes because my first love is performing. I started at 6 years old, making myself a mask for a performance I was doing. Then I started a princess party company and eventually started doing full theatrical productions. So kinda anything! I also make clothing, especially fun Disney themed things, and I’ve been getting into making handbags as well.
4. What other items do you sell besides your fun masks?
Good question! I’m trying to figure out the next steps as the need for masks has dropped significantly. I have some ideas, it’s challenging right now to find something that I enjoy and that people want or need right now. I have been doing some princess costumes for party companies and that’s been really fun to get back into – I’m always available to look at a costume project!
5. What did you do before the pandemic hit?
I had a bunch of jobs! My hubby and I have a theatre company and we usually do one big production a year, so I produce and manage the production as well as build and supervise the costume build and handle costume rentals. Sometimes I even perform in our shows! We also do corporate entertainment work, so we provide entertainment and specialty items to corporate events, music festivals, conventions and even private events. I sing whenever I can and just started MC-ing events. I’m also a team building events coordinator, which allowed me to travel and work with some amazing companies all over the country. I used to be a very busy girl!
6. How long have you worked in the theater?
I fell in love with theatre my sophomore year of high school! So I’ve performed for over 25 years. I started costume theatrical productions in 2003 and we started our theatre company in 2013.
7. What did you do for the theater job wise?
We do community theatre so it’s not a job in the traditional sense of the word, but it’s a lot of work! My favorite thing to do is performing, but I also work with my husband to build the costumes – he’s the designer and I help with the design, build some costumes personally and supervise the rest of the build. As a producer and production manager, I basically oversee the production – lots of paperwork, budgets and meetings. The boring stuff!
8. What was your favorite show to work on?
Performing wise, I have a lot of favorites, but playing Belle in Beauty and the Beast several years ago stands out as a very special experience. It was also my favorite show to work on as a costumer – well, it ties with the new production we were working on that was cancelled – it’s a really special one and I hope we get to finish it before too long.
9. Did you meet your husband while working in the theater?
10. Were you the one who got your husband into working with the theater, or did he entice you into working in theater?
We both started performing before we met. We were cast opposite of each other in a production of Fiddler on the Roof and we got engaged closing night. But I would say he encouraged me to get into theatrical costuming and drug me into producing!
11. Once the pandemic is over, will you return to working in the theater?
I sincerely hope so. Because of all of the circumstances around the pandemic, we’ll be in some ways starting from scratch as a company, but the desire is there!
12. Will you still continue to make masks or will you stop?
As long as there is a need, I’ll continue to make masks, though the market is now saturated – you can get them everywhere, and the demand has seriously dropped. But I still have lots of fabric and my masks are super comfy so I’ll keep making them as long as they are wanted.
13. Will you continue to sell other handmade items while working in the theater?
I don’t know for sure; I wasn’t selling any hand made items prior to the pandemic and usually when we had a production or a corporate event I was too busy to sew anything else. I’ll occasionally take a costume commission or other projects for friends, but I don’t usually just create things for sale. However, there will be a gap between when we’re allowed to have events again and when they actually happen, so depending on what I come up with in the early part of the year, we’ll see! I have a few ideas and I still need to make money so I’ll keep at it until I find something that sticks. I did do a project in October that was a lot of fun – we created Maleficent and Sleeping Beauty costumes and had a fun photo shoot. I’d like to do more of that this coming year. It was super fun to create something without limitations!
14. Do you have a way for customers to contact you if they would like to buy your masks or other handmade items?
15. Do you have a website? What is the link to your store or website?
The best way to contact me about masks or other custom created items through my Facebook page, facebook.com/sandrasewslv as I’ll be shutting down my store front with the demand slowing down so much. You can see my fantasy couture creations at https://www.facebook.com/AshfordHollowFantasyCouture. You can check out our theatre company at HuntsEnt.com and facebook.com/huntsentlv. We did some fun cast reunion live casts over the summer with lots of great behind-the-scenes info about our previous productions!
I have seen the magic that Sandra can make not just in the masks she sews but also in the costumes she creates and the photography that she and her husband have done recently actually, which is on her Facebook page. I am so glad that I have found her and have bought 4 masks for my family. I can’t find mine at the moment and my youngest’s mask is in the car, but I do have pictures of the ones I bought for my oldest daughter and for my husband that will gladly share with you all.
Please go check out Sandra’s websites when you get the chance and see everything that she has to offer. I really enjoyed interviewing her and I hope that she and her husband will be able to return to the Theater soon.