Working through the unprecedented challenges of 2020, CrossBreed Holsters CEO Carol Craighead has led her team to emerge even stronger as her company responds to the increased demand for female-friendly CCW options. We asked Craighead how she did it and what she has observed about carry trends for women.
NRAW: We recently learned that CrossBreed experienced a record sales year in 2020. To what do you attribute this growth?
CC: The incredible growth that we are experiencing is a combination of many great factors. Outside of the political environment that we are in, much of our growth this year is from new shooters coming into the market. With all the chaos in the world right now, protecting yourself and your family has become more mainstream now than it has in years. With these new shooters, we are seeing a large increase in female customers, jumping from 3 percent of our customer base in 2016 to 18.5 percent in 2020. Outside of the increased demand, we have continued to strive for excellence in not only our product but our customer service, we have always been under the impression that if we produce quality products and take care of our customers, they will take care of us.
NRAW: How is CrossBreed responding to the manufacturing challenges presented to the industry by COVID mitigation and shutdowns?
CC: It has been one of the most trying times in the history of our company. We understand the responsibility that we were taking to ensure our employees the safest possible working conditions and take that responsibility to heart. We have gone above and beyond local and federal guidelines to ensure not only a safe environment for our employees but an understanding one. We know that these times are trying not only professionally but personally, and we have done our best to help our people get through this financially and mentally.
NRAW: Approximately how many women are employed by CrossBreed, and do any of them that hold roles in design or engineering?
CC: Currently we employ 13 women at MTC which accounts for approximately 25 percent of our total workforce. We have females involved in every function of the business, from Human Resources and accounting to production—and of course, the president of the company. We also have multiple female employees on our product development team that researches and designs virtually all the items the company produces. We are constantly gathering and analyzing feedback from our female customers and you will see many of those suggestions being implemented in 2021 product launches.
CrossBreed avoids making the classic mistake that “girls only buy pink.” This is 2020 and protection is universal.
NRAW: How is CrossBreed reaching women gun owners, and specifically new gun owners?
CC: We feel that CrossBreed has an incredible presence in the female market. From being involved with The Well Armed Woman, Shoot Like a Girl, and NRA Women, just to name a few, our marketing efforts continue to focus heavily on female shooters. We have put a lot of emphasis on reaching out to our female customers through social media and have brought on smart and strong influencers, real women, who use our product to help tell our story. We were also incredibly fortunate to bring on some female competitive shooters this year to support the brand as well, including Jessie Harrison, Ashley Rheuark, and Lena Miculek. These incredible ladies help us to continue to grow not only our reach but in the future may help us guide product development.
NRAW: Which of your holsters have been most popular among women and why?
CC: We have found our female customers find our Modular Belly Band works really well for them. The ability to wear the holster without having to carry inside the waistband combined with the modular features of being able to easily move the holster itself from the belly band to a purse defender makes the system comfortable and convenient. Previously it seemed like women were heavily relying on the opinions of men, whether it be their husband or the gentleman at the gun counter, which generally meant that it had to be a smaller “girls'” gun.
NRAW: Based on this, what can we deduce about the size/type of firearms women are purchasing for concealment?
CC: With female carry becoming more and more prevalent women are doing their own research and finding pistols that work for them, which has led to medium framed firearms becoming more prevalent.
NRAW: Do you intentionally market certain holsters toward women—and is marketing products specifically to women a good idea?
We have identified a few products that work well for our female customers, but frankly, we feel that all of our products are great for male or female shooters. We will show these products in our female marketing just because we know that is what they prefer, but CrossBreed avoids making the classic mistake that “girls only buy pink.” This is 2020 and protection is universal.
NRAW: How are you addressing the unique on-body carry challenges that many women face?
Let's face it, women’s clothing is not always conducive to carrying a firearm, and so while we would love it if every woman would carry on body we understand that it is not always an option. With this in mind, CrossBreed has focused on modular products that utilize hook-and-loop-backed holsters combined with different platforms to give our customers the ability to match their holster to their lifestyle. These platforms give our customers the ability to carry in a purse, in a belly band, or even in a bag, all while utilizing one singular holster.
NRAW: We know millions of first-time gun buyers in 2020 were women. How do we keep them interested in following through with a personal protection plan that includes carrying a firearm?
CC: While we certainly had a large uptick in female customers, we feel that 2020 is a fantastic barometer for what the future holds. We feel that mothers, grandmothers and daughters, regardless of age, have realized that they have to take the protection of themselves and their families into their own hands. No longer will women accept being a victim simply because “guns are for boys.” We are digging our heels in and doing what it takes to protect ourselves and our loved ones. To keep them interested we have to make access to firearms and self-protection as fun and engaging for women as it has been historically for men. Through supporting organizations that promote women shooting, carrying, and otherwise enjoying firearms we are helping women to understand that firearms are tools for good, not evil.
No longer will women accept being a victim simply because “guns are for boys.” We are digging our heels in and doing what it takes to protect ourselves and our loved ones.
NRAW: Jessie Harrison is the newest competitive shooter to don CrossBreed Holsters brand, joining Lena Miculek as a pro-shooter/brand ambassador. Are there more women ambassadors in CrossBreed’s future? Can you tell me with which holsters they can be seen competing?
CC: We are incredibly excited to have shooting icons such as Lena Miculek, Jessie Harrison, and Ashley Rheuark using our products. These ladies are truly amazing and go to show that the world of shooting isn’t just for the boys any longer. We are excited to add more and more influencers and ambassadors to our program, not just world-class competitive shooters but also just average everyday moms and daughters who our customers can connect with. Currently, CrossBreed does not offer any competition holsters so our brand ambassadors are using our lineup of concealed carry products in their everyday lives. Each of the ladies have their own preferences but The Reckoning Holster and Modular Belly Band seem to be big hits.
NRAW: We love the CrossBreed “creed” that is printed on the bags sent out with your holsters. For those who don’t know, explain the CrossBreed name and logo—and how does that drive you and your daily business decisions?
CC: The word CrossBreed does not only represent a mixture of Kydex and Leather or a “Cross-Breed,” but it is a foundation. My late husband founded our company with his strong Christian values in mind, and our logo and name are a testament to his and our company’s love for our Lord and savior. Our creed is an unspoken agreement between our company and our customers. It is a calling to those of us who are willing and able to stand and defend our lives and the lives of our families from any harm that they may encounter. Our company creed and name are at the heart of everything we do here. We aren’t just here to sell holsters, we are here to help protect the lives of the people who trust our products, and we consider that of the utmost importance.
What can NRA Women expect from Crossbreed in 2021?
CC: CrossBreed is continuing to grow and expand. Coming off of our record sales year we are planning to move into our new production facility in Q1 of 2021. This new location will give us all the room we desperately need to expand our R&D efforts and continue to increase production capabilities. The advances in CrossBreed’s R&D is going to allow us the flexibility to release many of the new items we have been working on for some time in a much timelier manner. We are fully expecting 2021 to be full of new product releases, so the best thing I can say is, stay tuned … .
Learn more about CrossBreed Holsters in this 2019 American Rifleman TV segment.