As all women in woodworking know, you have to be tough as nails on the job. In a male dominated field, often perceived as being pumped full of testosterone and heavy lifting, thick skin is a prerequisite. Just ask San Francisco artist, Aleksandra Zee.
A layer of saw dust coating every article of her life is a permanent reminder of her hard work, and is proudly worn as a badge of artistic authority. To get lost in a world of passion and ambition is something most strive for in this world. Zee has found just that.
“Time vanishes when I am in the studio; it’s the greatest.” —Aleksandra Zee
Earthy tones and pattern play dance from one corner to another on each of her stunning pieces. Comprised of reclaimed materials, Zee uses laths of wood to paint a picture of geometric goodness. Her distinct style is brilliant and bold: a focal point in a room and a dream of a Native American textile.
Zee’s must-have items in her creative day-to-day routine are a nail gun and a great pair of overalls. In the photos above we get a closer look into her creative process. Follow along and see what you can concoct.
Keep up with Zee’s creative musings on instagram. You’ll be glad you did.
I think there are a lot of women (myself included) who often feel as though they are without a voice; be it in the workplace, the construction site, on the range, in social media, or during everyday life. It can be infuriatingly overwhelming to stand against the dialogue that already dictates those venues and arenas: the ideas that men are better leaders, women can’t perform as well in tough, blue-collar jobs, or even that women are better suited to clerical tasks rather than being out on the field.
Women, let’s stick together and raise our voices simultaneously to create a new discussion. We are capable. We are strong. We can swing a hammer or wield a crowbar. We can be contractors and painters and cattle ranchers and mechanics and engineers. We can do whatever job we want. We can lead, and we can do it well. WE CAN.
That brings me to Meegan Czop and the folks at Rebuilding Exchange. Many women there fill roles that are typically considered a man’s job. Meegan spends time on the ground scavenging through demolition sites for materials that can be resold through the non-profit to the public for re-use. It’s a tough job and she’s often the only woman to step foot in the work zone.
I tagged along on a trip she made to a Chicago warehouse that was ruined by fire a few months ago. With a jump in her step, she explores areas that would make most people nervous. A job that requires an adventurous spirit requires a special person. Meegan is changing the dialogue of what women are capable of with the elbow grease she puts into every day, the hard work she does to preserve and better the community, and the way she defies stereotypes with confidence and competence.
Meegan is wearing: Carhartt Women’s Force Performance Verdon Polo & Series 1889 Slim-Fit Double Front Denim Dungaree
After leaving the music industry to find a creative challenge, Caitlin Kerr founded The Foxglove Studios. She started small, maintaining part time jobs and freelancing while building her skills and learning the craft. Each gradual step made it a more manageable task to jump into a whole new career. With time her clientele grew and running the studio became a fulltime job. Starting over can seem daunting and even downright impossible, but Caitlin put aside those fears created her own dream job.
Another important part of starting a new career path is to remember your roots. The years you spent at your old job weren’t pointless. You put in time an effort that helped make you the person you are today. Music plays a large role in Caitlin’s job. She listens to songs, bands, and composers reminiscent of the mood she’s aiming to capture in her creations.
Floral Arrangement Tips from Caitlin of The Foxglove Studios:
1. Use chicken wire, floral tape, or both to create a base. Avoid the Styrofoam filled with toxic chemicals.
2. Use it all. The greens of a flower can also be utilized. Don’t strip off the leaves, they create texture and fill out the arrangement.
3. When arranging, start with the base of greens and foliage. Then add focal flowers and whimsical flowers (the whispy, airy, smaller, and more wild types of flowers like scabiosa and ranunculus).
4. Allow the focal flowers to stand taller. It creates a more interesting arrangement.
5. Make sure to cut the stems of your arrangements and change the water everyday.
Perhaps one of the greatest attributes of a good leader is not to be daunted by unfulfilled needs. To instead see obstacles as a problem to be solved and not a crippling factor that prevents progress. Just four years ago, Veronika Scott was challenged by a class assignment to create something that solved a social need. After spending time at Detroit homeless shelters, Veronika envisioned a waterproof, heat-trapping jacket that could transform into a sleeping bag.
A good leader is also open to criticism and input. So when one of the women staying at the shelter told Veronica that they needed jobs, not jackets, Veronika listened. The jackets did seem like a temporary fix to a larger issue. How could this project meet an even greater need in the community?
One of the most devastating blows a society can thrust upon itself is an environment where women don’t realize how valuable they are. Veronika stepped up to the plate to knock down those misconceptions. She is now the founder and CEO of The Empowerment Plan, a non-profit that employs women in homeless shelters to make jackets for the homeless of Detroit. It’s an atmosphere where women who once had little hope can learn and change their way of thinking. They have the opportunity to realize that they hold the power to change their future. They are strong, independent, and capable.
Meet Teia. She’s been a seamstress at The Empowerment Plan for over a year. Teia recognized this job as a once in lifetime opportunity and she has used it as a step in the right direction for herself and her two children. Way to go, Teia. Your efforts are an inspiration to us all.
Teia’s outfit: Carhartt Women’s Force Performance Tank, Clarksburg Zip-Front Sweatshirt, & Slim Fit Nyona Jean