Entrepreneur Summer Lambert connects women with experts so they can get their hands dirty trying tasks like changing a tire or replacing a leaky sink faucet.

Summer Lambert became a homeowner in the heat of the pandemic. Men were in and out of her house working on projects that she had never learned to do. Lambert realized that growing up, she, like many other girls, was never taught how to do the handiwork her dad was an expert at. She spent the next year focused on empowerment, saving money and learning things that boys grew up learning, more so than herself. That proved to be the catalyst for launching DIY GRRL Collective—an education collective teaching people of all genders (but especially women) essential life skills.

Entrepreneur Summer Lambert in living room.
Credit: Courtesy of DIY GRRL

How would you describe the essence of DIY GRRL Collective?

DIY GRRL is creating a community of people wanting to learn skills that are considered more masculine. I connect local professionals who have businesses in a specific field with people who want to learn that skill. I consider myself a facilitator—someone who connects the dots—and I get to simply enjoy the process of watching people learn, create friendships, and feel empowered.

Your first workshop was about the ABCs of bikes: air, brakes, chains, and how to change a flat. What inspires the workshops that you host? 

It starts with "What would I like to learn?" I'm a 32-year-old woman, and I'm wanting to learn as much as I can. I started a growing list of all the things I wish that I could do. That list grew with ideas from my girlfriends and simply going out in Chicago and seeing what businesses could also benefit from teaching skills. I saw there was a fundraiser for building a new skatepark in Logan Square, and now am planning to have a skateboarding workshop to raise money for the park. Even if skateboarding isn't an essential life skill, it's all about connecting the community in any way that we can.

DIY Grrl workshop with bicycles.
Credit: Courtesy of DIY Grrl

What's the general reaction from people who attend the workshops?

Everyone is thankful to get the knowledge. For so many women, they just have been longing to know how to do things. Where to begin is half the battle and I'm glad I can be that starting point for them. Finding someone who wants to know a skill, even something as fun as learning how to drive stick shift, and then finding someone to teach that skill—that is what I love to do.

What workshop has been most memorable to you? 

I go back to the bike workshop with BFF Bikes on Father's Day weekend. A dad brought his two young girls, 5 and 7. He's sitting there with his daughters, and they are learning how to fill up your tires, how to change your tires, how to check your brakes, and I just thought, 'This is why I'm doing this.' Seeing them there, and bringing this family together, and giving this dad something amazing to do with his daughters, I was just choking up.

Woman tuning up a bike in DIY GRRL workshop.
Credit: Courtesy of DIY GRRL

So much good has come out of these workshops, not only for Chicago residents, but for Chicago business owners. Do you have plans to expand outside of Chicago? What's next for DIY GRRL? 

I want to. I have friends in Austin, Brooklyn and out in California that are totally down with the idea of expanding it. First, we need to learn how to fail and then see where else we can expand. As far as DIY GRRL in Chicago goes, I just added a whole bunch of new workshops for the next few months. There are two that I'm really excited about—plumbing 101 and how to change out wiring in old lamps. I'm all about sustainability and the idea of reusing and creating a circular economy. My goal is to spread workshops all over the Chicago area to extend the knowledge to as many people that I can reach.