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Crew | April 2024

Meet Emily: DIY-er, Instagrammer, and mom on the go

Emily Reed holding a tool while wearing the pink Southern Cross Zip Ladies boots
  • Emily Reed is best known as a DIY-er and mom on the go to her thousands of Instagram followers.
  • From upcycling old furniture to restoring and flipping campervans, Emily loves a project.
  • Emily wears Steel Blue boots because she loves their comfort and the great range of colors.

Emily Reed moved around a lot as a kid. Probably once or twice a year, mostly around the Dallas area of Texas.

“Every time we moved, we would peel off the wallpaper, and we would repaint, just to make it feel like home,” Emily said. “We would do the same colors. I think the kitchen was always yellow. The bathrooms always had wallpaper in them. I was maybe eight or ten years old, helping them with those things.”

Fast-forward a few decades and now Emily is something of a DIY guru and an Instagram celebrity, best known for her amazing transformations of vintage campervans.

“I’m very much a self-learner, self-taught, kind of always have been—I was homeschooled and through that homeschool experience I just learned how to do things on my own,” she said.


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A passion for renovation and restoration

It was while Emily and her husband were students juggling full-time study with full-time work that they began picking up furniture from the side of the road, restoring or updating it, and selling it on Craigslist. Then, in 2017, with a three-year-old daughter in tow, Emily bought a vintage 1974 Shasta campervan to restore as a project.

“It had to be completely gutted all the way down to the trailer base,” she said. “We rebuilt the subfloor, reframed the walls, insulated it, and ran new electric. Five months later, we sold it for a profit, as a renovated, empty shell.”

Finding time for self-care

Emily had well and truly caught the renovation project bug but, the following year, she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder—a mental health condition that causes heightened mood swings.

“After working with a psychiatrist for months, and having to be hospitalized for a week, we finally found a combination of medications that worked for me,” Emily said. “I got stabilized, started exercising again, and started doing small projects in 2020.”

It was a busy time, with two more children arriving within 15 months of each other, during a global pandemic, and with a house renovation underway. Once things had settled, Emily found time for another camper project—and this time she had a helper, her eldest daughter, Amelia.

Emily Reed wearing the blue Southern Cross Zip Ladies boots

Teaching the next generation

Just as Emily’s parents included her in their renovation projects, Emily involves her own children, passing on the skills she’s learned.

“I have always loved the process of building something with my own hands,” she said. “My ability to learn new skills has truly amazed me. I have become a self-learner as an adult. This is something I am teaching my children now, so they don’t have to learn it when they are older. You can do anything, as long as you have the drive and motivation to do it.

“Our kids have always been a part of everything we do. Someday, they will have houses and projects of their own. I am so excited for the day when I get my first phone call, ‘Mom, can you come over and help me with…?’”

Why Emily wears Steel Blue work boots

Emily got her first pair of Steel Blue boots about seven years ago, when she started renovating her first camper.

“I’d had other brands, but the Steel Blue boots were much more comfortable, and I always got compliments on them because they’re bright pink,” she said.

“Now I have the blue ones and they’re gorgeous. I just kind of love the statement boots. When I’m working, most of my other attire is, like, a shirt that has paint on it and is ripped up, and jeans with holes in them. And then I’ve got these beautiful boots.

“They’re so comfortable—especially the new ones with the zip up on the side. And they are so easy; I don’t ever have to tie my laces. That’s really a big deal for me, as a mom on the go.”

Head to your local authorized Steel Blue retailer to discover work boots that are a mark of true skill, or shop online.

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