Heather Wells and Debbie Crowley

Heather Wells (right) with her mom, Debbie Crowley (left) work on mask savers at Well's dining room table. The duo started making masks for Milton community members early in the pandemic, but after seeing a need to help kids keep their masks on, recently added mask savers to their inventory. 

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Milton residents Heather Wells and her mom, Debbie Crowley, have been sewing masks for the community from their dining room table. 

The family sells their masks of various colors and patterns to Milton community members for $5, and last week, they added handmade “mask savers” -- sold for $3 -- to their inventory. 

Mask savers, Wells said, help kids and adults keep track of their mask at all times. They consist of a silk ribbon with snaps on either end, and when the ribbon is snapped onto each ear-elastic of a mask, it keeps it looped around the wearer’s neck. 

“I’ve got two young kids going back to school in the fall,” Wells said. “And my mom was thinking that since they will now have to wear a mask all day, they will need a way to keep it from falling on the floor.” 

Wells and Crowley have already made over 500 mask savers, and the orders keep piling in. They post photos of their products in a public Facebook group they started called “MASKS AND MASK SAVERS.” The group has 309 members. 

“It’s how we have been filling our time during quarantine,” Wells said. “I’m a stay at home mom, and so I am grateful that I have the time and space to do this.”

As of Aug. 1, mask-wearing is now mandated in the state of Vermont in all public spaces where a six-foot social distance cannot be maintained. According to the Vermont Department of Health, COVID-19 is spread through droplets produced when breathing, speaking or clearing the throat. A face mask is one precaution people can take to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

Wells family

Heather Well's son sews a mask on a sewing machine. Wells and Crowley have recruited the whole family to help them serve the community. 

Wells gives all the credit for the mask-making and mask-saving idea to her mom, who has been a crafter and a creative-thinker her entire life. A life-long Milton resident, Wells remembers following Crowley around at craft shows across Vermont. 

“I used to complain about going to those craft shows with her when I was a kid,” Wells said. “But now I love it.” 

Wells and Crowley believe it’s important to keep the prices for their products reasonable and accessible, and while the mask savers were originally created to help children as they go back to school, adults are now also placing orders for themselves. 

“I’ve even been wearing one out to the store,” Wells said. “It’s just easier. You don’t have to remember where you put your mask -- in your purse, in your pocket -- now it’s right around your neck.” 

With demand so high, the mother-daughter duo have also recruited other family members to help. 

“We’ve got my husband and my grandmother involved now too,” Wells said. “My kids are our guinea pigs.” 

During last weekend’s town-wide yard sale, Wells and Crowley sold their masks and mask savers on the front lawn of Wells’ home on Meadow Road. The in-person sale was such a success, that Wells said they will probably host another in two weeks. 

“This is so much bigger than us,” Wells said. “We feel good doing something that’s been able to help our community.” 

Create Space is a new series featuring local creators, artists and innovators. Know someone who should be featured? Send an email to bhigdon@orourkemediagroup.com.

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