FAYETTEVILLE, North Carolina
From an early age, Chris Cruz had a bit of an entrepreneurial spirit.
He sold chocolate bars in elementary school. In middle school, he would bring Capri Suns to sell to his classmates for $1.
“I guess I always wanted to be my own boss,” said Cruz, who medically separated from the military at Fort Bragg last month.
The path to becoming his own boss continued by joining the military – something he knew he wanted to be in since he was 5 years old.
“I was born in Guam, before moving to Kentucky, and most people from Guam join the military to get off the island,” he said. “But I joined for service, too. Most of my family has been in the military.
Cruz’s time in the military led him to start his company, Anubis Design Group, in 2018.
The name Anubis comes from watching the movie “The Mummy” and is an Egyptian god who prevented evil from entering Egypt.
“It’s kind of mysterious, kinda similar to how some people in the military will come out of the shadows or the darkness to stop the bad guys,” he said.
The primarily online company specializes in creating nylon tactical gear and soft goods, as well as custom apparel for military, law enforcement and civilians.
Cruz said he focused on nylon tactical gear because he often modified his own military gear “to make it more personalized or better.”
“People in my units were seeing me modifying my own stuff and asking me to make the changes they needed, and it just took off from there,” he said.
In 2018, Cruz said, one of his buddies from the 5th Special Forces Group asked him to modify a chest rig — a tactical vest used to hold gear — and add some patches to it.
The friend was happy with the job and encouraged Cruz to start his own business.
Cruz said he switched from sewing by hand to using heavier industrial machinery.
He customizes and crafts armor plate carriers that hold ballistic armor, chest rigs that hold ammo and other gear, and general purpose pouches.
“Vests are what we’re best known for, but it’s not just gear,” he said. “We have t-shirts and hats and try to branch out into other things like photography and landscaping.”
Cruz was able to showcase his gear at a diving competition hosted by the 3rd Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg in June. He plans to attend a gun show in Fayetteville before moving to Texas.
Although he moved 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 most readily available products in stock, but we can do custom orders,” he said.
Cruz said he welcomes military-related customers, but also wants to have a reach beyond the military, which is why he also offers items for civilians to purchase.
Custom orders have a $35 non-refundable fee and take approximately seven to 10 business days, but may take longer depending on demand.
“Apart from me, the other guys are on active duty, so it can vary,” he said.