Matriarchy Build makes it easier to hire tradeswomen

Just about anyone can relate to feeling that the question they are about to ask regarding a home repair is stupid. And let’s face it, if you’re working with someone who has years, or even decades, of experience in the trade, that lack of knowledge often comes with a do-it-yourself attitude that only compounds the intimidation factor. To eliminate these frictions, and empower women in particular, Gabriella Ainslie and Lacey Soslow saw an opportunity. In May, they launched Matriarchy Build, an online directory that connects customers to a list of women-only tradeswomen.

Ainslie first became aware of the need for the service about a year and a half ago, in February 2021, when a severe winter storm hit Texas, northern Mexico and parts of Canada, causing an estimated 196 $.5 billion in damage (and, as the designers will recall, completely upending foam production in the United States). His own home in Austin was among those affected. “Everything froze, everyone’s pipes were breaking, it was crazy,” she says Home business. “It was that moment of realization where I was like, ‘God, I don’t even know how to turn off the water to our house.'”

Gabriella Ainslie (left) and Lacey Soslow (right)Michael Persico, courtesy of Matriarchy Build

Realizing she was going to have to hire a plumber for the job, and acknowledging her limited familiarity with technical jargon, Ainslie found herself thinking about the all-female landscaping business her mother had founded in the greater England area. Austin. “[They were] very proactive, like, “You’ve been through this terrible storm, and we’re going to get to your place, but in the meantime, do this kind of thing to mitigate the damage,” she says. “I wished we could find someone with that level of communication to work with.”

Soslow, who has spent the past six years renovating homes across Philadelphia with her own mother, got a call from Ainslie, her friend of 20 years, shortly after. “Gabriella called me and told me about her experiences, then asked me, ‘Who do you work with? How do you find these people? Said Soslow. “I told him that I don’t really works with a lot of women and I would like did. I tried, and it’s really hard [to find them].”

The two friends began thinking about the lack of women in the trades, wishing there was an inclusive and empowering resource where do-it-yourselfers and absolute newbies could go for non-judgmental advice and information for their projects at home. home, whether they want to tackle the job themselves or simply feel more comfortable communicating with a hired tradesperson. A place that offered ample patience, more education, and zero explanation. Suddenly, a network of tradeswomen – with a name that took their hat off to the ingenuity of their own mothers – was the obvious solution. It’s not that Ainslie and Soslow decided to exclude male entrepreneurs, but rather that they wanted to feel comfortable asking questions and engaging in projects. A community of tradeswomen, they thought, would strongly promote this attitude. So the duo decided to go all out – Ainslie quitting her job as COO at a sustainable fashion company and Soslow quitting her job as head of marketing and e-commerce for home and garden brand Terrain to create Matriarchy Build.

The business model is simple: clients looking for advice can filter their search on the platform by business specialty or type of project. Once they find the right “Pro” for the job, they are then asked to schedule a 25 or 55 minute virtual consultation before completing a detailed questionnaire. The pros set their own rates, ranging from $25 to $65 for the shortest session and hovering around $100 for the longest. Matriarchy Build takes a 20% commission on the contractor’s fee, with the rest of the payment going to the Pro, who is free to register on the site. And even if they don’t do the actual work, each Pro is responsible for both guiding the client through the steps of any given project and ensuring any business is safely within their skill level. .

To fill out their initial roster of pros, the duo did some serious Google research, Instagram deep-dives and, in Soslow’s words, “cold DMing.” Eventually they found communities of tradeswomen across the country. To vet each applicant, Ainslie and Soslow check licensing references and insurance status in addition to job evaluations, but there is also an inherent filter to ensure Pro values ​​align with Matriarchy’s mission. Build. “In the process of manually selecting pros, we were able to apply our community values: not judging based on level of experience, not presenting a client with jargon, trying to empower them, ensuring safety,” says Soslow. “Ultimately, we wanted to make sure that people approached our community with the same spirit and attitude that we brought to it, which is positive and inclusive energy. It might sound a little woo-woo, but that’s a big part of what we’re trying to do.

In the month or so since the service launched, Ainslie and Soslow have noticed that consultations have included a range of requests, from pros instructing customers to tiling a shower stall to answer questions about pricing. fair. “We’ve also had people come to the site, start talking about a project and then say, ‘Ah, it’s so amazing to know that this is what I can do on my own. , but that’s what I need to hire people for,'” Soslow said. In a broader sense, Matriarchy Build has created a system that allows tradeswomen to leverage their expertise and generate income in new and multiple ways.An added bonus: they can do it from anywhere with a Wi-Fi signal – a perhaps unexpected twist for a traditionally convenient, region-restricted line of work.

One of Matriarchy Build’s early pros, Baltimore-based general contractor Beth Pointer, was pleasantly surprised at how seamless the experience was on the tradeswoman’s side of the equation. “I thought it would be harder to chat with someone over video about their house, but it turns out they were able to send in photos and give an idea of ​​what they were thinking beforehand,” Pointer says. . “It was really great, and each experience saved each customer a lot of time and money.”

By the nature of Matriarchy Build’s inclusive spirit, one of the platform’s core tenets is its diversity, a value that hasn’t always come with the territory. “The is a real gap in skilled trade, and there’s kind of a demise of traditional people who want to do trade work, who, to be blunt, have almost always been older white men who have come from a family tradition says Pointer. This platform presents [individuals] who don’t look like that traditional group of people. I think there are people who have been historically excluded from this path who will now be inspired to join.

Matriarchy Build has set itself the goal of increasing education and people-to-people relationships in the outsourcing industry, starting with one-on-one virtual consultations and the support network for tradeswomen. But that’s not where it stops. “There’s a real movement going on, and Matriarchy Build captures that moment,” Pointer says. “It’s not just about bringing different people into the trades, it’s about creating a completely different experience for the owner who hires them. Getting people to expect and demand something better from this relationship with contractors is part of what’s going on here. Customers spend a lot of money on these projects, and [for them] not to be excited about it – what a waste.

As Matriarchy Build continues to grow, Ainslie and Soslow not only hope more customers feel empowered to engage in their own household projects, but that the site can inspire more women to consider careers in the trades. “While we don’t specifically invite people to participate in training programs, we hope the excitement, exposure and empowerment of this community will pique the interest of more people,” says Soslow. “Is it mentorship? Is it a direction? It’s not the basic business model, but I think the accessibility to these people is exciting and our pros are thrilled as well.

Homepage image: Michael Persico, courtesy of Matriarchy Build

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