Always be willing to learn, no matter what level you are and be open to that knowledge (despite its source; some of the coolest things I’ve learned have been ‘man-splained’ to me). Shannon Lowry
What made you interested into getting into your field?
I needed to figure out a way to start paying off my student loans from college/grad school and all the jobs in my degree field were low paying and hard to get. After a couple of years and dozens of interviews with no prospect of a real job I was desperate. I somehow landed a tile setting apprenticeship and I fell in love with the trade! Have been hooked ever since!
What do you love about your field?
So much! I absolutely love the creativity that I use to do high-end installs, the problem solving involved with getting layouts on-point, the challenges of dealing with different types of tiles and materials…and the flexibility of being self-employed.
What types of challenges have you faced as a woman and how have you overcome them?
A lot of contractors and homeowners in Montana are pretty skeptical upfront about a female tile installer. I’ve had a few local contractors call looking for an installer and then outright laugh at me and hang up when they hear that I’m a woman. I’ve had to use my male assistant as a front man to get my foot in the door with some builders. I always feel crappy about that, but the truth is-especially in this part of the country, women are not as easily respected as men in the field. I tend to have to work harder, have tighter installs and be cheaper than my male counterparts in order to get consistent work scheduled.
Is there any advice you would give to women entering the field?
Be prepared to work hard. You can earn respect by having kick-ass installs but, that level of quality takes time to achieve so be patient with yourself while you are learning. You will make mistakes, so own them like a boss, fix them and move on. Always be willing to learn, no matter what level you are and be open to that knowledge (despite its source; some of the coolest things I’ve learned have been ‘man-splained’ to me). Respect other tradesfolk, more often than not it will be reciprocated. My job sites are filled with so many people that have this massive wealth of knowledge. When we acknowledge those strengths in each other every day, we create a space that enables us to achieve the highest quality results for our clients.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Pfft. Well, I could use some help-am fairly desperate for reliable employees, so if there are any women looking to learn about tile installation in NW Montana they should get in touch.
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