Busting myths and business advice from an all-girl plumbing crew
Since launching in 2014, Brisbane-based all-girl plumbing crew, The Tradettes, has not only swelled in size but also earned a swag of fans along the way – plus a couple of awards. Apprentice Sarah Condie won a 2017 Rheem Apprentice Plumber Grant while company founder Helen Yost won this year’s Queensland Building and Construction Women in Plumbing and Gas Fitting Award.
“We started with a team of two and now we are a team of ten,” says Helen, who is also a trade qualified plumber. “We have a goal of 1000 apprentices by 2024!”
Originally called The Plumbettes, Helen’s “pink team of plumbers” stand out in the traditionally male dominated industry not because of what they wear but their simple mission statement: “To allow every day Australian women to create and perfect their trade skills for the benefit of their community.”
We asked Helen to bust the three biggest myths about female tradies – and the three pieces of advice she wished someone had told her before she started the business.
3 pieces of advice you wish someone had told you before you started your own business
- That it’s no fairy tale. It’s hard work – lots of hard work. You won’t just wake up one day and be an overnight success. It takes years and years to create a successful business.
- Be prepared to cry. Cry tears of frustration, and tears of joy. Nothing great is ever easy and learning to be open with your feelings and acknowledging them will make the journey easier.
- Don’t take yourself so seriously. People will think what they want. Haters will hate, they will come and go but the ones that matter will support you and back you all the way!
3 myths you’d like to bust about female tradies
- That it’s heavy, sweaty work all the time. This is far from the truth. Yes, there are days where you will have to get in and break a sweat, and move some heavy stuff, but not without WHS (Work, Health and Safety) in mind. It doesn’t have to be done the old-fashioned, laborious way. Working smarter means that ladies can come into the industry and do the same as the boys – sometimes better.
- Girls don’t want to get dirty. Piffle! There are so many ladies out there that do want to get dirty! There are days where there is nothing more rewarding than coming home messy and muddy. It is like a trophy of how hard you have worked that day.
- That ladies don’t have the same knowledge as the guys. Well, all I can say is, how did the guys learn? It didn’t come to them over night! We all started day one the same way. We all work to the same legislations and codes and we all have to abide by them. Yes, we look at things differently and come up with solutions in different ways with different applications but that doesn’t mean that one gender is fairer than the other.
3 surprises that have come with owning your own business
- We all start business so that we can have more free time. Well, I don’t know about more free time but I have certainly learnt how to make the most of all of my time!
- How rewarding it is to watch someone grow and blossom in front of you, learning their trade and becoming the best that they can be with your guidance.
- Not everyone loves your ideas as much as you do – and that’s ok. You didn’t start to make everyone else happy, you started because you had a dream and a passion. Hold on to that and keep going!
Rheem Apprentice Plumber Grants
Rheem launched its annual Rheem Apprentice Plumber Grants in 2012 to mark its 75th anniversary since it began manufacturing water heaters in Australia. Since then, it has given nearly $200,000 in grants to 170 apprentice plumbers. This year (Rheem’s 80th birthday), it awarded 10 worthy grant winners from around Australia. Each recipient received $2,000 to go towards their TAFE/RTO fees and/or text books, a $1,000 tool voucher, plus a tool bag.
If you’re interested in applying next year, or know someone who might be, follow the official Facebook page for updates.