I’m starting this by saying it’s not related to our fertility journey, but as I have built my following online the fact we haven’t been able to have children has massively effected this decision, so I’m going to share it here. It feels right.
A year ago I had a fairly bad car accident, this followed a couple of the worst years of my life. It almost bookended it. I lost our baby in the summer of 2015 and at the same time we were loosing my cousin, more like my little brother to leukaemia. He passed away in Jan 2016 and I thought I grieved at the time. Looking back I realise I did not. In fact I was a on a downward slide. Little by little.
The accident made me face the very worst of myself that I had hidden in the back of my mind for so long. When I stood still for too long it felt like everything came tumbling down. I know now things had been sliding for a while, but at the time I just thought I was fine. Just get on with it. You are still breathing so be thankful. Oh how silly I was!
Before the accident I had worked in media sales for 15 years. Up until the last couple of years, I LOVED it and I was damn good at it!! The most important thing to me was that my clients got the response they needed for their business and I went over and above to make sure it happened. It was a shock to me that actually I wasn’t happy at all those last couple of years, the stress, the targets, the chasing down sales all of it was too much. I knew I needed a change. I had to find a plan B.
The fact that we aren’t able to have children contributed to my decision. The feeling of
– “ok so what IS plan b?”
This was a massive motivator in my making the decision. Life was taking a different turn and I didn’t want to plod on with “what ifs” any more, “If we have kids by next year” just didn’t cut it, so many wasted years behind me waiting for that dream to come true. It hasn’t.
So plan B it is!!
My husband has worked in the blind industry for many years. He worked his way from warehouse person up to contracts manager and then started out on his own five years ago fitting, mainly commercial installations.
I would often go to sites to help on the jobs that didn’t require Cscs cards (health and safety stuff) and I enjoyed it. As I was recovering from my accident I realised the need for this big life change, my injuries would make it difficult to sit at a desk, we discussed the possibility of me working with him.
I had three concerns;
1) I am a very girly, girl. I got my nails and hair done regularly, I wore makeup, I had expensive dresses and had Mulberry handbags for the office. I had never even held a hand tool in my life, never set foot on an actual building site …… Could I work as a labourer??
2) ……….would I murder my husband spending that much time with him. Be honest how many of you guys could work with your other half’s and not be plotting where the concretes being poured in to hide the body???
And 3) ….. I absolutely did not want a pink hi vis and pink hard hat!!! I didn’t need to stick out any more than I already would!!
We decided to try to see. On the 1st of June 2018 I went self employed and we started to build up my diary with commercial work as well as SP Blinds and Curtains for the domestic market.
My husband was a patient trainer (most of the time). He’s my best friend so actually working together has been great, don’t get me wrong we have our moments but we laugh more than we argue so I’m taking that as a win!!
I did my CSCS card test and then the full days site safe training, it was at this point the full gravity of being a female in a male dominated environment started to dawn on me. I was the only woman on the course. I passed my course and test and my first site job was for Jacobs up in Glasgow the following week. I was nervous and excited. But I’d been an entertainer in Magaluf in my twenties, these trades men didn’t scare me!! Much! Lol.
A year in I have worked on a lot of sites so it’s so amusing to look back on that time and how nervous I was, it’s just normal to me now.
I answered my first concern pretty quickly, I CAN do this! I absolutely can do this!!
I’m not going to lie and say it’s been plain sailing on every site, I often get stared at like I have three heads, especially when I am carrying the tools and big bundles of blinds around. On the whole however I have been welcomed on sites just like anyone else. A few moments of people assuming I’m either a cleaner or someone of importance 😂😂🤦🏻♀️. That’s it!
If anything I would say I have a better relationship with some trades people as I do stand out people tend to remember me more, so it means people will talk to me a lot when I go back for return visits to the same sites. They strike up conversation more easily with me than my husband…… maybe that’s just because I’m a talker 😂!!
Any doubts about my ability came from me. It was my own voice making me nervous, because up until this year I very much believed in “blue jobs” and “pink jobs”. My inner voice would say,
“You can’t pick that up, it’s far to heavy for you get Ben to do it!!”
I had to work really hard and shutting it up. Especially working at heights on scaffolding because I’m terrified at times, but I keep telling myself I CAN DO THIS. And I do!
I feel like this year has opened my eyes to a world of possibilities. There are so many interesting jobs in the construction industry and I wonder how many women would love it like I do, but rule it out as an option because they don’t feel they can! And make no mistake I LOVE IT!!
I like the domestic and interior design aspects of private homes but there is nothing like the feeling of a job well done when you have lugged hundreds of blinds up 9 floors of stairs, working as a team, getting the job done well with a happy client. I love the projects we do that start from us surveying and working with the site team to seeing it through to hand over. It’s a similar buzz to completing a big sale. It feels amazing.
On the sites we have been to I have seen three other trades women. Two decorators and one labourer and I heard about one electrician. There are a few in the offices and I have met one female site manager which was great to see.
In 2019 it shouldn’t matter if someone is male or female only that they can do the job. It’s about knowing your own strengths and weaknesses to ensure you are safe when doing the job, but I honestly haven’t seen a job performed onsite that I didn’t think I wouldn’t have a go at.
It’s hard work. They work in crappy weather conditions sometimes especially in winter, the people working outside I really feel for but it’s rewarding all the same! There’s an atmosphere of working together to get a job done that I just love and I’m so pleased that I decided to give it a go!
I hope that as time moves on more and more ladies give it a try. To not believe the “blue jobs”/”pink jobs” line. You honestly don’t know what you can achieve until you try it. I was scared at first but I am always made to feel so welcome that it’s very comfortable for me now. I never feel nervous going onto site!
I see some of the building companies trying to encourage women into construction. Posters up around the sites and info on their websites and social media. It’s so encouraging. It’s opened a world of opportunities for me, I hope I continue to grow my skill set. You never know if you are in the industry, you just might see me on a site near you! I won’t be the one in pink. 😂👍🏻.