This story was originally published in the Fayetteville Observer.
FAYETTEVILLE, NC — From a young age, Chris Cruz had a bit of an entrepreneurial spirit.
He sold chocolate bars in elementary school. In middle school, he’d bring Capri Suns to sell to classmates for $1.
“I guess I kind of always wanted to be my own boss,” said Cruz, who medically separated from the Army at Fort Bragg last month.
The path to becoming his own boss continued with joining the Army — something he knew he wanted to be in since he was 5.
“I was born in Guam, before moving to Kentucky, and most people from Guam pretty much joined the military to get off the island,” he said. “But I joined for the service, too. Most of my family has been military.”
Cruz’s time in the Army led him to create his business, Anubis Design Groupin 2018.
The name Anubis comes from watching the movie “The Mummy” and is an Egyptian god that kept evil out of Egypt.
“It’s kind of mysterious, kind of similar to how some people in the military will come out of the shadows or darkness to stop bad people,” he said.
The primarily online business specializes in creating tactical nylon equipment and soft goods, along with customized clothing for military service members, law enforcement and civilians.
Cruz said his focus on tactical nylon equipment is because he often modified his own military gear “to make it more personalized or better.”
“People in my units would see that I was modifying my own stuff and asked me to do whatever modifications they needed, and it took off from there,” he said.
In 2018, Cruz said, one of his buddies in the 5th Special Forces Group asked him to modify a chest rig — a tactical vest used for holding equipment — and to add a couple of patches to it.
The friend was pleased with the work and encouraged Cruz to start his own business.
Cruz said he’s grown from hand stitching to using heavier industrial machines.
He customizes and makes armor plate carriers that hold ballistic armor, chest rigs that hold ammunition and other gear, and general-purpose pouches.
“The vests are what we’re more well-known for, but it’s not just gear,” said. “We have T-shirts and hats and are trying to branch into other things like photography and landscaping.”
Cruz was able to showcase his gear during a dive competition hosted by the 3rd Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg in June. He plans to be present at a gun show in Fayetteville before he relocates to Texas.
Though moving to Texas, Cruz said he has four other soldiers working with him, and the business is primarily an e-commerce model, meaning customers can place orders online.
“We have our more readily available products in stock, but we can do custom orders,” he said.
Cruz said he welcomes military-connected customers but also wants to have a reach beyond the military, which is why he has items that civilians can purchase, too.
Custom orders have a $35 non-refundable fee and take about seven to 10 business days, but could take longer depending on the request.
“Other than myself, the other guys are active duty, so it could vary,” he said.