VALDOSTA – Anna Battle got a call, and she answered it.
Battle is the co-owner with her husband, Edward, of Simply Anna’s Fashions and Creative Designs.
The duo customizes clothing for women, men and children and currently provides items in 19 states, she said.
Battle searched in March for a way to help during the coronavirus outbreak but she did not expect the magnitude of what she would undertake or how far it would travel.
“I knew I wanted to help people with the pandemic we’re faced with, right now,” she said.
Crafting in a Crisis
On March 31, the seamstress began sewing face masks for family members working on the front line of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Unsure if she desired to take the mask-making a step further, she requested the family members not make online posts telling people who created the masks but the family found a loophole by verbally spreading the news.
After getting several inquiries, Battle said she wasn’t prepared for the “overwhelming response” of people wanting her to make masks for them.
“I just did it out of the goodness of my heart and just wanting to help people,” she said.
In four weeks, Battle said she and her husband created and sold 1,000 masks.
“It was a blessing in disguise because God told me to be a blessing in the middle of a crisis,” she said. “This thing caught me by surprise. This was not a plan. … I’m trying to help people. That’s really what it started as.”
Her husband cut the outline of the masks while she sewed the components together. Her daughter, Calette Baldwin, assisted with the beading and placing stones on the masks.
The face coverings reflect pleated, leather, sports teams, animal print, solid color, African, denim, patched and bedazzled styles.
They come in kid sizes with child-appropriate designs; head wrap and mask sets are available. The masks are shipped locally and nationally.
She has fulfilled orders coming from California, Texas, New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, Illinois, Kansas, Arizona, Arkansas, the Carolinas and other states.
She has even shipped them to a client in Dubai. Battle said the woman was a client of hers in the United States before relocating to Dubai.
“When I got the call from Dubai, that thing floored me,” Battle said. “I just remembered the prayer that I had prayed.”
She said when she and her husband first established their business years ago, she asked God to expand it in the amount of time He saw fit.
Her clothing designs have been photographed in Indonesia and she has made lapel flowers that have went to Turks and Caicos Islands.
“It’s surreal because it was something I wanted to do a long time ago,” Battle said. “My whole goal and career aspiration was to be a household name just like any other fashion designer. You want your brand to speak for itself.”
Taking time away from her busy schedule, her husband urged her to reflect on her work. She realized she has met one of her initial goals.
“Sometimes, you have to just stop and see what you’ve accomplished to see you have accomplished your goal,” she said. “It’s nothing to encourage you. You can encourage somebody else.”
From a Dream to Reality
Battle said she has always desired to be a fashion designer. She has been sewing for at least 40 years and found inspiration from her late mother.
As a child, she loved to watch her mom get dressed for church on Sundays. Her mother would prepare an outfit the night before on Saturday. Her mom would sew at a machine and sew new clothing for those Sunday mornings.
“To see all of her style and fashion sense, it blew my mind to see my mom get dressed,” she said. “I said when I grow up, I want to be able to get dressed like that on Sunday mornings. I want to look like that. I wanted to emulate her because I thought she was a beautiful woman.”
Her mother would drop scraps on the floor, though Battle said she is unsure if her mom would purposely do it to see how she would respond.
Battle would gather scraps and begin making her own garments. She said her own daughter would love to see her get dressed in the mornings as a child.
The fashion designer has developed her skillset by making avant-garde garments. She takes store shopping bags, newspapers, cardboard and stones and transforms them into clothing items for fashion shows.
Offering something new each time she participates keeps people engaged in her work, she said.
Simply Anna’s is based upon values of honesty, open communication, integrity and transparency, she added.
The business has grown in its marketing, advertisement and use of social media platforms.
“I trust the people I love to hold me accountable to my commitment,” Battle said. “I respect their love and opinions. Most importantly, I continue to seek the face of God for direction.”
Ready-wear clothing is available in the boutique though Battle designs most items purchased through the store.
She recently launched an African and leather jewelry line that features necklaces and earrings.
Simply Anna’s, 4333 Bemiss Road, Suite 11, is open by appointment noon-7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday due to the pandemic and social distancing concerns.
Battle said she will continue making masks as needed.
Though she was vague about what other new elements her business will offer post-pandemic, she said clients can expect “a new Anna.”