In response to a report from My Local Toolbox that showed the growing demand for tradeswomen, Yasmin Reeves, Managing Director of Kent-based All Points Painters and Decorators, talks about her experience as a tradeswoman and why more women should join the industry.
What trade do you specialise in?
Painting and decorating
What motivated you to pursue a career in this trade?
I felt that there was a niche in the market in regards to a lack of female trades in the area. I believe I was the first female company for painting and decorating to start up in Medway and the surrounding areas. I also needed to balance being a working single mum, I was in the Police service prior to this and I was struggling to have a good work life balance, So, I left the police to venture out, being able to adapt my own working days.
I decided to start up a female company as at the time I couldn’t find a female painter to decorate my house and found it frustrating when all I seemed to get was a male trade service.
How did you enter the industry?
Job change, I went to college and learnt the skill on a two-year part-time course, gaining my Level 2 City & Guilds. I have since gained my level 3 NVQ specialising in wallpaper hanging and special effects. I have also taught my skills in a prison, college and set up a workshop in Rwanda, Africa.
When did you embark on this journey?
Could you describe a typical day in your profession?
As I am the owner and needing more staff, my day varies, I am usually catching up with emails before work at 8am. My employee arrives on site, at a residential house and I have already messaged her the details or have already visited the site with her. I help out on site, at around 08:30 with the painting and decorating throughout the day, so my employee isn’t alone and unsure what to do, although sometimes I leave her to her own devices. At lunch I head out to quote on local jobs, with customers or potential customers that wish to use my company. I respond to any emails, get back to helping my employee and then finish at 4pm. In the evenings I write up my quotations and sort out any overdue invoices. It is a very busy day! I don’t usually wind down from work till around 10pm.
What do you find most rewarding about being a tradeswoman?
For me it’s knowing that I am empowering other women to learn a trade or give them the confidence to go out and not be bothered that it is still very male dominated.
I also love running a company, I love the challenges and the different obstacles to overcome.
Conversely, what challenges have you faced in your role?
Some other tradesmen have not taken me seriously on site. I tend to not work with builders as I don’t like the unconscious bias that is clear to see visibly but not verbally. I have been asked how I prepare certain surfaces, and when answered been told “you actually know what you’re doing then”. I have had difficult customers who have asked me for kisses. I have been asked out on dates when I am in a house to decorate. I often go with instinct and if I don’t feel safe in a property then I don’t work there. I have refused jobs because of gut instinct. Those customers that cause me issues, I tend to walk away from. Over the years I have not had as many of those past issues, perhaps because I am older and have firm boundaries in place.
Do you believe being female provides you with any advantages over your competitors?
Yes, just recently I was asked to quote for a job locally because I am a female painter. The customer did not call any other company for his proposed work, so in that respect I have advantages over male painters and decorators. I got the job to and start in November.
How do your customers respond to having a female tradesperson handling their work?
Often, I have been told that customers feel safer with me. Funnily enough it’s the male’s that tend to tell me that, they are usually the married type, with wives or girlfriends working from home, or they are just in and out the house when I am working. I suspect that when the male of the house mention that they feel safer, what I am really hearing is that they feel safer that their partner is not in the house with a strange man. I can also relate to that being female. I have often been told my male customers that woman have far greater attention to detail.
Would you recommend other women to pursue a career in the trades industry?
Yes, for sure. There are always going to be challenges, but never give up, after all, AI tech can’t really replace us, well, I hope not. Not yet anyway.
What would be the best approach for women looking to enter this field?
Try to get a qualification, I have been told by some past female employees that they get refused jobs with companies because they don’t have a qualification. This can be a challenge because more then half the guys on sites who paint don’t have a qualification. If you find this an issue, find a company (like mine) that can offer you an apprenticeship, if that’s not your thing then find a company that is willing to train you. Just like mine!
Could you share any advice for women just starting their careers in the trades industry?
Yes, network, I wish I had done that far sooner. Ask for help, its OK to do that. Find the right people to support you and not those who try to sabotage what you are doing. If people disprove then they are not “your” people. There are female network breakfast group to. I am finally going to one next week. It’s my third attempt at find the right network group for me. Most importantly, find someone to do your self-assessment books or company books. A good accountant is really important. I learnt the hard way and was stung by a very large tax bill! Its nearly wiped me out, but I recovered, which is great. Lesson learnt, my accountant is amazing!
Are there any other insights or comments you would like to add?
Yes, being a woman in the trade it tough, being a woman running a company is a challenge. Keep going. Stay strong, and when you feel like giving up that’s the point you need to push through, only then will you grow.
For more information on Yasmin’s company, All Points Painters and Decorators visit Allpoints Painters – Painters & Decorators in Kent.
To view the full report from My Local Toolbox on the growing demand for tradeswomen, visit The Growing Demand for Tradeswomen (mylocaltoolbox.co.uk).
For more information on My Local Toolbox, the find a tradesperson service, visit Tradesmen Job Leads | Mylocaltoolbox.co.uk.