Kendall County Magazine sat down with Alex Almodovar, who purchased Oswego’s A Lady and Her Tools in August 2018. This interview was edited slightly for length.
Editor's note: This Q&A originally appeared in the winter issue of Kendall County Magazine.
Kendall County Magazine: How did you first get involved with A Lady and Her Tools?
Alex Almodovar: About four months after my partner and I purchased our first home together, I realized I didn’t want to work in corporate anymore and I wanted to stay home with the kids. He told me I had to figure something out to do at home, so I started watching kids, crafting, and making signs and other custom things for people.
My significant other came home one day and said that our house looked like a craft store, so I had to do consignment or I had to be done. I am a firm believer in speaking things into existence, so I kept saying I wasn’t going to close down and I was going to find a shop.
That same week, the owners of A Lady and Her Tools posted that they were going to be selling their shop. I went home and told my significant other that we were going to buy it.
Kendall: What are your roles at A Lady and Her Tools?
AA: I’m the front office and face of A Lady and Her Tools. I teach classes and make signs and everything else for our customers. My dad was in construction so I’ve always wanted to do something like this. I remember putting on a toolbelt and going to work with him when I was young. I like being hands-on and making things at an affordable price.
My significant other, Jerry (Bowker), is the brains of everything, I swear. He purchases and cuts the wood and helps me teach the classes. We have customers send us custom ideas and he comes up with the dimensions. He’s so creative — all I have to do is show him a picture.
Kendall: What exactly do you offer?
AA: We have a storefront and an 1,800-square-foot workshop. I have roughly 22 consignments in the shop that includes signs, homemade coffee mugs, pottery, crocheted stuffed animals, jewelry, bath soaps, candles and more. It’s the perfect gift shop!
The workshop portion is for our classes and where I work on my projects. Customers can pick their own projects or attend a class making a certain piece. We even have cookie decorating classes.
Due to COVID, we offer take-home kits. You can basically purchase a take-home kit online and pick a paint and stain from our selection. We provide screws, rags, wood, stains, paintbrushes and instructions. We even have a drill rental if you don’t have one.
Kendall: I know it says “lady” in the business name, but are your classes open to men, too?
AA: My soap consignment person is a male and I also have a person who makes different things out of wine barrels that is a male. Plus, my partner in crime, Jerry, is here. I know it says “lady” in the title, but really, everyone can come do it. I think the title just helps to empower women a great deal.
Kendall: The concept for your classes almost reminds me of paint and sip classes.
AA: It’s a lot more rewarding. You’re building a piece of furniture from wood. We’re going to help you as much or as little as you want to make sure that the piece is exactly what you want. It’s going to last for so long, you’ll be able to pass it down to your family.
We’ve done birthday parties, bachelorettes, family events, dates nights and more. It’s great for date nights because it’s something they’re building for themselves; our business brings people together. There can also be another couple there and you’ll be friends by the time you’re leaving.
A Lady and Her Tools is located at 72 S. Main St. in Oswego. Reach the store at 331-717-2137 or www.aladyandhertools.com.