When one woman in Philadelphia was dumbfounded at the lack of women in the car mechanic industry, she decided to quit her job and plans to start her own car shop.
Patrice Banks, 34, was a materials engineer and manager at DuPont for 12 years, about six years ago, she said she looked for a female auto mechanic to find help, but couldn't find one. She decided to go to school to become one, taking classes at a community college on the side. After two years, she received a diploma in automotive technology. In 2013, she started the Girls Auto Clinic, which offers workshops and consulting for women.
Banks said she wants to educate women so they feel confident taking care of their cars and avoid being swindled by the male-dominated car service industry.
The anticipated business will have a "beautiful lounge" that's "welcoming and warm" and a nail salon, Banks said. Armed with a business plan, she has a location in the works in Philadelphia, and she has applied for funding.
Hilary Noack, a Centennial College auto body repair instructor, is hoping to raise $20,000 via an Indiegogo campaign to start Canada’s first all-female-staffed auto body shop.
She has had a passion for muscle cars and hot rods since she was a teenager and worked with a shop to restore her first car, a 1970 Oldsmobile. She turned that apprenticeship into a diploma from Centennial College, got a job at Toronto’s well-known Legendary Motorcar, then went back to her alma mater to teach.
She’s been instructing in the auto body and collision damage repair apprenticeship program for four years now.
While she already had most of the tools necessary to get a garage started, she still needed to raise some capital, and a traditional bank loan just wouldn’t do.
“I figured crowdfunding is a great way to test drive your business idea and help promote your business,” Noack says. “It’s a win-win situation! The reaction has been great so far!”
Noack already has a team together – made up of fellow auto body experts Alexandra Leith, Olivia DiGianfelice and Heather Toner – and is looking at shops for rent in Toronto’s west end.
Back in 2010, entrepreneur Jessica Gilbank attempted to open Ms. Lube – North America's first all-female-staffed lube and oil service centre. The upstart quickly became embroiled in trademark-related challenges after national chain Mr. Lube pursued legal action.