HerStory: Crystal Castillo on Bouncing Back and Carpentry


It’s every Millennial’s dream: wake up whenever you want, live by your own schedule, be your own boss, pursue you passions, and get paid for it. But it seems as though that is a life meant for the rich and famous, for those who have mounds of money and resources at their disposal with instant gratification—not women like you and me. If you would have told Crystal Castillo one year ago that this would be the life she lives at the onset of 2016, she wouldn’t have believed you, but here is she, Carpentress Chronicles, and today, I am thrilled to share her story with you.

Before I have you believing she had it easy, let me explain how she started. Crystal attended Texas Tech University in Lubbock and pursued a Bachelor of Science in engineering. Her dad worked his way up in the oil field over 30 years in the industry, and thanks to him and his inspiration, she was a first-generation graduate. After five years in college, she graduated and started a full-time job at Halliburton as a frac engineer. Seems like a fairytale ending, right? Wrong. What do we know about the oil industry right now? We know that gas prices are low and your wallet is happy. But that also means the oil industry is experiencing a crisis, resulting in tons of layoffs across the country.

Crystal started her journey with Halliburton with months of training in both Oklahoma and Colorado. Despite the freezing temperatures out in the field in New Mexico, she loved what she was able to learn during her time in the field. During the training, she was expected to learn and understand exactly what goes into the work in the field, how to use all of the equipment, how to measure pressure and more, and she said she felt proud to work in a male-dominated industry. She knew that after training, if she didn’t pass her tests she would be laid off. So you can imagine her surprise when she did pass her tests, but was laid off anyway, along with so many others.

Crystal told me she struggled after being laid off, despite feeling comfortable in her living situation and the heads up she received prior to getting the news. How could she not struggle? She was 26, recently on her own in the “real world”, and now she suddenly found herself with an expensive degree and out of a job. But, my friends, this is where the tide turns. Crystal turned her struggle into success.

For her 26th birthday, Crystal asked her boyfriend for some tools. She wanted to learn how to build furniture. She had all this free time on her hands while she was job searching, so instead of binging on Netflix (but let’s be real; we would not have blamed her for that), she started a business: Carpentress Chronicles. She started building pieces that came with a plan from Ana-White.com, because honestly, she didn’t really know what she was doing. She never owned a drill, or any power tools for that matter; she just wanted to try it out. So, she used her creativity and engineering brain to start building coffee tables, TV stands, blanket ladders and mirrors, and now she creates signs after perfecting hand lettering. She has big goals, including working with boutiques in Fort Worth to get her signs and other products in their stores, launching a website, working on her own house, and learning how to run the business side of Carpentress Chronicles. And all of this started less than six months ago.

Y’all. Crystal accomplished all of this with no prior training and with minimal resources. She just did it. She decided to let her faith be bigger than her fear and she got to work. She has created a business that is unique and that allows her to flex her creative muscles and expand her passions. She did all of this while battling the disappointment that comes with losing a job, and she didn’t allow herself to lose sight of her desire to add something worthwhile to this world. If that doesn’t inspire you, I don’t know what will.

Although Crystal has turned her side hustle into her everyday job (she is still searching for jobs but isn’t panicking and is able to be very picky and selective thanks to her success with Carpentress Chronicles), there are still some endeavors she is working on personally. Crystal has become involved with the Alzheimer’s Association both nationally and in West Texas, as this cause truly hits home for her. When Crystal was a freshman in college, her mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at the age of 48. Crystal’s desire is for people to become more educated on what Alzheimer’s is and how it affects so many people and families. She wants to bring awareness to the fact that no one at any age is immune to the disease, and she wants to dispel the notion that it’s just “an old person’s disease.” Her newfound success with Carpentress Chronicles has granted her the flexibility to become involved in building awareness around Alzheimer’s, and that is something she is incredibly grateful for.

According to federal data from 2014, approximately 7.1 million Americans held construction/carpentry-related jobs. Of that number, only 2.6 percent were women. Crystal is very much aware of the need for more women in STEM careers. Her biggest advice is to not be intimidated by being one of few women in STEM jobs. She said, “There is a lot of opportunity, and we need more female scientists and engineers. Women have a lot of power in being females in the industry. We have the same capabilities as men.”

If you feel inspired by Crystal and have questions on anything she has shared, feel free to drop a comment below or email me and I will connect you. Her story very well could have ended differently, but she took the reins, evaluated her situation, made the most of what life dealt her, and has now created a business she loves and is passionate about. That, my friends, is the spirit of HerStory in one sentence.

Crystal and I are giving you a chance to win one of her handmade signs! Head to Instagram to enter to win this beauty she made with her own two hands (and some tools). This quote perfectly encompasses the tranquility that comes with the notion that everything is going to be okay, no matter the situation we’re thrust into. The giveaway will be live today, Feb. 24, at 12 p.m. CST.

For information on how you can get involved and to learn more about Alzheimer’s, check out these helpful links:

“Don’t be intimidated, and don’t be afraid to speak up. That was something I feared. Don’t be afraid to be wrong.”