Catoosa woman uses late father's belt to make bracelet, starts business doing the same for others

CATOOSA, Okla. -- Christie Rimer always keeps a reminder of her late father nearby, whether it's the picture of him on her desk at work or the bracelet she wears on her wrist.

"It just keeps him close, you know," Rimer said, "so I have him with me all the time."

The bracelet, a leather cuff, is particularly special. Rimer made it herself from one of her father's belts after his death four years ago.

"(The belt) is something he wore every day," she said, smiling. "Now I get to wear it every day."  

She also added personalized items to the cuff to represent special things about her dad, including shotgun shell rivets, a purple rhinestone and a metal plate with the word "Jailbird" stamped onto it.

"It says Jailbird because that was his CB (radio) handle (for truck drivers)," Rimer said.

"I have shotgun shell rivets because he was a cowboy and because he taught me how to shoot a gun when I was a kid," she added. "Then I have purple rhinestones because he had a 1954 Chevy that he actually had painted purple just for me."

Rimer said friends and neighbors started noticing her bracelet, and they began asking her if they could have something similar made from their loved one's belongings.

"The first family I did it for, I did it for a lady who had lost her dad to cancer, and I did it for several of her family members," Rimer said. "I was probably a nervous wreck the entire time that I did it because it is such an important piece to those family members. They're trusting me with that. They're giving up a part of their loved ones to have something wonderfully made out of it, so it means a lot to me that it comes out right."

Rimer soon started a business called This Old Belt, and, in the span of three years, she said she's made hundreds of keepsakes for people from their loved one's belts and other belongings.

"I had one lady who drove all the way from Texas one weekend just to meet me at a show, and she brought me 15 belts," Rimer said. "We made bracelets out of all of them."

She's no longer making the cuffs at her kitchen table anymore. She and her husband opened a store earlier this year called Barn 66 in Catoosa, where she sells more than just This Old Belt.

"Our goal is to have the best of Oklahoma. That's what we always say," Rimer said.

"There are a lot of small businesses in Oklahoma that do a great job and who hand-make things and who work really hard at being a small business and supporting our local cities," she added, "so we want to bring them in."

With her store and her jewelry business growing, Rimer cannot help but wonder what her dad would think of it all now.

"I think he'd be really proud of what I've done for other people as far as making (cuffs) for other people," she said. "You either stick (a belt) in a box, throw it away or donate it someone else. So many people that I've met that I've made them for have just said, 'Oh, I have belts hanging in my closet. Wow, I didn't event think to do that.'"

To learn more about This Old Belt, follow this link.

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