Not everything that came out of the pandemic is negative.

Take, for example, Heidi Yribar, whose COVID-19-era brain blast has resulted in a thriving Foothills business. 

Want to learn to decorate festive cookies with royal icing? Make pasta and a strawberry panna cotta? A charcuterie board? Maybe guests would rather learn to make a wreath to decorate their home or give their graduate the gift of a lei they’ve made. 

For all this knowledge and more, Yribar has you covered.

“I teach people a skill,” she said. “When you leave Antsy Nancy, you’ve actually learned how to do something. I always give everybody the recipes and tell them exactly where to buy the materials so they can try it out here and then decide, ‘Do I like it? Do I want to keep doing it?’”

Located at Craycroft and River roads, Antsy Nancy allows guests to learn a new skill and be able to use it at home. Yribar wants her clients to learn ways to improve home, health and happiness, according to the business’ website. 

When she opened the business, Yribar expected her clientele would be active retired adults, and they are some of her students. However, she was surprised by the popularity of the children’s classes. 

“The kids’ (business) is really huge,” Yribar said. “All the summer camps, winter break camps, spring break, and the parents just love it.”

Besides the camps, which begin in May, she has a once-a-month Kids Night Out, where kids 5 years old to high school age learn to make a themed food dish, then watch a movie. For example, last month the kids made fortune cookies and pot stickers, then watched  Disney’s “Mulan.” This month it’s angel hair pasta from scratch and “Tangled.” All movies come with popcorn. Yribar loves these classes.

“All the kids are so sweet and fun with each other,” she said. “It’s just so neat to watch them try.”

Each class, for adults and children, begins with a provided apron and a locker to store their stuff. Then it’s time to learn.

Naomi and Bianca Fergerson, daughters of Andrea Fergerson, have been going to dinner and a movie since Yribar started them at the beginning of this year. However, this isn’t their first go-around at Antsy Nancy. They’ve been to plenty of activities there. Their continued attendance is testimony to how much fun the workshops are.

“It’s a cute little place; it’s very cozy,” Fergerson said, “(and Yribar) has such a variety of activities. The girls get some hands-on experience.”

It’s also Yribar who makes the workshops fun.

“She is just very, very organized, and she connects so well with the youth, they just cannot get enough,” she added.

Antsy Nancy is named after Yribar’s aunt, Nancy Rutherford, who is a dap hand at all things baking and craft. It’s where Yribar learned to decorate cookies. It happened this way. In January 2020, Yribar found herself unexpectedly unemployed. She applied for hundreds of positions but couldn’t find traction.

“I was bored out of my mind and then the kids were home,” she said. “I asked my aunt Nancy — she’s an active retiree in Tucson — for pointers on my yard. She came over and it turned into months of us landscaping.”

Yribar does mean landscaping. The pair put in a coy pond. 

From there Yribar learned to use her sewing machine, how to recover furniture, do holiday projects, decorate cakes and make wreaths. One day after a marathon cookie decorating session, she was driving home from Rutherford’s home, “and I thought, ‘You know what? There’s a business idea in here,’ and I came up with the idea of Antsy Nancy,” she said. Ten months later she opened her classroom and she’s been teaching ever since. In fact, Yribar said, in the year and a half she’s been open, she’s making a profit.

“It’s going really, really well,” Yribar said.

The first class on the calendar was how to make an herb garden. No one came. Today she has sellout classes. She also hosts private parties of all types and hires out to teach.

From the outside a casual observer would not guess how elegant the classroom looks. On a recent visit, the room was filled with several bar-high tables covered with white tablecloths and a rose vase, all facing a demonstration kitchen. Yribar said the tables are on wheels and can be rearranged to suit the class. The elegance, she added, is just to make the learning space inviting, like a visit with a very good friend. At least one reaction to the space surprised her.

“My most favorite thing is when a burly man’s man walks in here and says, ‘It’s so cute,’” she said. 

Yribar wants people to know these classes are for everyone.

“We teach master classes, but they are designed for beginners, and not to shy away from it if they’ve never done it before,” she said.

Antsy Nancy

5655 E. River Road, Suite 101, Tucson