Southampton’s Rachel DeBarros loves to tinker with things. She’s the kind of woman who brings home a VCR and instead of struggling over how to program it, she takes it apart.
“I love taking things apart to see how they work,” said DeBarros, who will host the Velocity channel’s “All Girl Garage,” a do-it-yourself TV show debuting Aug. 15.
DeBarros grew up in Washington, D.C., and got her love of electronics from her father, an electrician, and passion for mechanics from her uncles who owned an auto body repair shop where she worked as a teenager.
“My father was upset that driving schools didn’t teach basic car maintenance,” DeBarros said. “He said, ‘you have to learn or you don’t get the family car.’ ”
She learned the basic — changing a tire, checking the oil and the radiator, and then how to tune it up or change the oil.
When she got into college, she needed some pocket money. So she made a pink flyer offering her services for basic repairs.
“I got no calls,” she said.
The next week, she made a blue flyer offering the same services by “Jimmy.”
“Calls started to trickle in,” she said. “I wasn’t making a killing, but it got me through school.”
Out of school, she got a job in marketing. At night, she taught herself to code and build Web sites, getting side gigs until she had enough to launch her own business called Purple Star Media.
“But I missed working on something with my hands, building something,” she said. A lover of muscle cars, she came across a Plymouth Barracuda on Craigslist.
“It took a long time to hunt one down within my price range,” she said. “So I bought it right away.”
When she got it home, she realized a new paint job covered a lot of the rust. So she went to online forums posting questions and pictures to figure out how to repair it herself.
“People started to bond with what I was doing,” she said.Next, she started her blog Gearhead Diva, where she chronicled the repairs. It gained a small following, mainly from other women mechanics looking to share her experience.
She decided to grow the site to make money, but found there were too few women to support it.
“So I took out all the pink. At the end of the day, it was my passion for working on cars that drove the content,” she said.
She started writing tech articles and producing videos for do-it-yourself enthusiasts. For women, she started selling clothing promoting cars and racing.
Her popularity grew on social media and she started getting calls from television producers.
“I was willing to do TV if it grew my brand,” she said. The offers, at first, were “bad ideas,” she said. Then Benton Productions called. They were looking for a replacement host for “All Girls Garage” on the Discovery network’s Velocity channel.
She’ll begin hosting the show’s fifth season “where we will be tackling cars everyone loves, from a 1969 AMX to a 2009 Nissan 370Z.”
She continues to film DIY videos for her Gearhead Diva site out of her Southampton garage, marrying car modifications with pop culture.
Her next project is transforming a lipstick red Camaro into a white Storm Trooper prototype to ride the social media wave of the upcoming release of a new “Star Wars” movie.
“We’re marrying dry DIY stuff and finding a way to tie it to something in the world of social media that millennials can relate to,” she said.
This article originally appeared on Bucks County Courier Times.