Neither of us gave much thought about entering into an occupation that has been historically male-dominated. For us, business has no gender. Virginia has always been an entrepreneur so she’s no stranger to diving into uncharted waters. With a formal background in art and design combined with previous business successes—home renovation was the right mix of art and entrepreneurialism. She looks at every renovation project as one very large sculpture. She does admit to cracking herself up at times. “I know I like contrast sometimes,” she says glancing down at her mud-caked work boots. I can’t help it—“I love to get dirty.”
For me, working in this industry was a natural progression. When I completed my first project (my own home) I discovered that I was I was really good at it. Completing such a labor of love was a special feeling. Home renovation expert Arlene Dean saw my work and offered me a position with her company. I quickly accepted. She became a real mentor and my experience working with her was invaluable. It turns out that over the years I had (unintentionally) acquired the exact skill set necessary to be a home renovation project manager. Anyway, it didn’t occur to me that I was entering into a male-dominated field at the time especially since my first boss in this industry was a woman.
For the most part, we don’t feel we’re treated any differently because we’re women. As in any business, though—you have to be tough. I’m not sure that the situations which require some “extra assertiveness” on our part are gender-related or not. We just chalk them up to another day at the office.
We have to admit that people seem shocked when we tell them what we do for a living—especially if we’re out at night in high heels and make-up. Sometimes they actually think we’re joking. We don’t take it personally though. After talking to us for a while—they inevitably ask us for a business card. Some have even turned into our best clients.
Thanks for reading, Debbie Hollonbeck. Level Craft.