Cristy Gies, an avid DIYer, had a difficult time finding a tool belt and bag designed for someone her size and frame. After searching online, locally at hardware stores and even traveling to a tool show in Las Vegas, she decided to take matters into her own hands and, with her husband, Joe, design tool belts with a woman’s body in mind. After setting up an Etsy shop, it was obvious other customers were looking for similar products. Now, Gies is creating an online community for “DIY girlfriends” to encourage other projects.
SBJ: What sets your tool accessories apart from others?
Cristy Gies: It was extremely difficult to find tool belts designed for women. You can find some online, and every once in a while my husband and I would stumble upon something, but they were not functional or high quality, or it would be pink and look and feel like a cheap kids’ toy. I decided to design and sew my own. The first one I designed has three basic pockets with dividers, a pocket for a cell phone and for measuring tape. I also designed the hammer belt to accommodate my hips (and) a basic flat-panel belt with pockets. These are washable, very functional and stylish too. I wanted something fun.
SBJ: So, you have a cheetah-print belt. Do you have others?
Gies: We’re going to get into more products as well as different styles. I want to try out designer canvas in leopard print and houndstooth. It should be easy to wipe off, and I’ll line it with a silky type lining, so it’s soft but sturdy. We’re also coming out with a jean line, out of a cool prewashed medium-weight denim. In the past, I’ve made bags and belts with both an orange print and a green chevron print.
SBJ: What other DIY accessories are on the horizon?
Gies: We’re working on a larger tool bag, coordinating tool pouches and credit card wallets that can attach to the tool belt or bag as needed. We’re working on an apron to protect your clothes, so if you have to stop everything and pick up the kids or run back to the hardware store, your clothes aren’t dirty. And of course, it will have pockets. I feel like there are so many things we can do. It feels like we’re on the tip of the iceberg.
SBJ: What does the manufacturing process look like?
Gies: Since many textile manufacturers are moving overseas, I wanted to make sure my product was made in the USA, and specifically the Ozarks, so I could help support local families and bring more jobs to the Ozarks. My sister and I were sewing and quilting each piece ourselves but realized that wasn’t sustainable. We ended up purchasing a commercial sewing business that also creates telemetry pouches for hospitals across the country. We source all of our material within the state. When possible, we source within Springfield but also purchase all of our sewing machines from Kansas City and our material from Sikeston.
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