Justine Jernigan is owner of The Beauty Suite PGH, opening soon in Troy Hill, and a seamstress. She’s using her skills to make fabric masks for those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.

By Ashlee Green

Photo courtesy of Justine Jernigan

Justine Jernigan is standing inside of her local Walmart, on the hunt for elastic.

“I’m usually isolated in the sewing section every time I come,” she says. But today, even Walmart is out of the stuff, which is in high demand due to the growing interest in handmade face masks amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jernigan, owner of The Beauty Suite PGH, opening soon in Troy Hill, is a cosmetologist, certified sugarist, lash and brow artist, and seamstress. Her online shop Twirl & Grace is a little girls’ boutique that sells dresses and event wear for tea parties and pageants.

Because of this, she already had the sewing resources when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, she says, which gave her the motivation to temporarily shift her focus from dresses to fabric masks.

“As a seamstress, I am guilty of hoarding fabrics and notions such as thread and elastic,” Jernigan says. “I have a collection of sewing machines.”

When the threat of COVID-19 first became serious, Jernigan donated over 500 of her masks to local hospitals, healthcare centers, and individuals who reached out to her as part of a vulnerable population for contracting the virus. Now, following Governor Wolf’s call on Pennsylvanians to wear a mask anytime they leave their house on April 3, she’s focusing on making masks for the general public.

Posted by Justine Jernigan on Tuesday, April 7, 2020

“I was getting requests, but not at the quantities that I am now,” she says. These days, she’s “flooded with mask orders” via her Facebook page. Prices for fabric and elastic have gone up, she says, and even after creating her own streamlined process, one mask still takes eight minutes to make, from initially cutting the fabric to sewing the final thread: “Too long,” she says with a laugh. “It’s outrageous.” She’s charging $5 per mask just to recover material costs.

In addition to making masks, Jernigan is homeschooling five children. Three of them sew, she says, and her eldest one helps with cutting fabric and other simple tasks.

If you’d like to purchase a mask, the best way to get in touch with Jernigan is by searching her name via Facebook and sending her a message. She responds to people in the order that they message her. Unless you live out-of-state or are part of a vulnerable demographic, masks are pick-up only from her residence in Bellevue.

The Beauty Suite PGH, Jernigan says, is “ready to rock and roll,” as soon as businesses are able to reopen. To stay updated on The Beauty Suite PGH, visit this link.

Related posts:

Updated: A guide to navigating Pittsburgh’s Northside in the time of coronavirus

Northside ice cream shop opens amidst global pandemic

National Aviary now bringing its birds to you

Northside Chronicle Town Hall Subscription