The Women of Bee Tree Farm and Dairy

Today we’re diving deep into the lives of the women who run Bee Tree Farm and Dairy in Manor, Texas, just a few minutes from the heart of downtown Austin.

Jenna Kelly-Landes

After realizing her love for raising animals in her suburban backyard, Jenna moved to the country and founded Bee Tree Farm and Dairy. Throughout that grueling process, she’s gone from farming mentee to mentor.

Kathryn Ivey

Kathryn’s family has a history in agriculture. A few years ago, she realized her passion for working with goats, and since then she’s worked on several farms. At Bee Tree, she offers a helping hand during kidding season.

Filipa Rodrigues

Filipa moved to the US from Portugal as a photojournalist. While she still works in the industry, the rest of her time is spent working as herd manager at Bee Tree and on her own operation, Saudade Farms.

In 2008, Jenna was on a much different path than she is now. She was in graduate school, on her way to becoming a lobbyist. On a whim, Jenna bought a few chickens to care for in her backyard. That’s when everything changed.

The first egg laid coincided with Jenna’s growing desire to see what other animals she could raise. That weekend, she and her husband started the hunt for land to call their own. Eventually the couple found their new home on 15 acres of raw countryside, just outside of Austin city limits.

“I desperately wanted to raise a few goats. My first two goats were sisters from a local goat dairy—Pearl Snaps and Jolene. They had their first babies one year later, and I milked them on a wooden milk stand I bought off of Craigslist…

It was the experience of raising them and then milking them that caused an epiphany at a time I was already certain I didn’t want to live in high heels and at conferences: I wanted to build a life around these goats whose love for me, and mine for them, was powerful medicine. I had never felt so certain about anything. From that moment on I was determined to figure out how to make a living with goats.”

-Jenna Kelly-Landes

Over the years, Jenna added more acreage and animal life to the farm. She read books and articles, teaching herself what she needed to know. From the beginning, she wasn’t afraid to ask farmers for help. Two women, Fran Sharp, who owns a raw milk goat dairy in a nearby town, and Amelia Sweethardt, owner of Pure Luck Farm and Dairy in Central Texas, were Jenna’s mentors—playing a crucial role in the development of Bee Tree Farm and Dairy.

Jenna’s herd continued to grow, as did the need for goat housing. That’s when the arduous and lengthy process of securing a construction loan and barn plan approval by the Texas Department of Health’s Milk Group began. It took 2 years before they could even break ground. Once the barn and dairy were completed, Jenna earned the licenses to sell cheese made from the milk of her own goats in 2016–8 years after purchasing the land.

“The building and licensing processes alone were enough to discourage most people, but I’m stubborn as hell and I was determined to be a professional goat dairy and cheese maker. I had no idea then that actually BEING a dairy farmer would be 10 times harder than the process to become one.”

-Jenna Kelly-Landes
Yes, every goat is loved and known by name.

“We currently have 54 goats and we are milking 40 goats this season. We make fresh cheeses entirely from the milk of our own animals which means we only make farmstead cheese: we never buy milk from other farms for our cheese. Every cheese is 100% created from and on the farm. This is a distinction that I think most consumers don’t know much about and is important to understand.” -Jenna Kelly-Landes

The Women of Bee Tree Farm in Austin Texas / Crafted in Carhartt

Then came 2020, a year for the history books that has taken a toll on small businesses and the folks devoted to keeping the lights on. When many restaurants and shops shuttered around the world, farmers kept at it.

“The thing with a dairy is that the lights can’t be turned off, the employees can’t be sent home. On farms that rely on and revolve around animals, their immediate needs continue despite the state of the world. They would still be lining up at the dairy each morning to be milked and I needed to make sure I continued to find an outlet for their milk and way to pay for their food.”

-Jenna Kelly-Landes
The Women of Bee Tree Farm in Austin Texas / Crafted in Carhartt
Filipa wrangles sheep into a pen before milking.

In 2012, after experiencing instability when the recession hit Filipa’s home country, Portugal, she took her professional expertise in photojournalism to Texas. She continues to work as a freelancer with her skills in photography and cinematography. The rest of her time is devoted to farming.

Born and raised in the city, Filipa didn’t have any experience with agriculture. That is, until she began working with Jenna. She put in the hours of hard work and became herd manager at Bee Tree. Filipa now lives on the other side of the property, where she runs her own operation, Saudade Farms. There, she raises a few animals of her own and sells eggs to the community.

Filipa’s advice for beginning farmers:

  • Be ready for a lot of hard work, humbling and heartbreaking moments.
  • Always be patient and dedicated. Keep a clear mind on what your goals are.
  • Everything in farming takes time, a farm is not built overnight. There are a lot of setbacks and unforeseen situations that will make you question yourself, but also bring the opportunity to constantly think outside of the box.
  • You’re dealing with living beings and unpredictability is always there. But when you love it, you pour every single ounce of yourself into it. As cliché as it might sound, farming is truly a labor of love.
The Women of Bee Tree Farm in Austin Texas / Crafted in Carhartt
The Women of Bee Tree Farm in Austin Texas / Crafted in Carhartt
Kathryn bottle feeds one of her favorite kids.

Before joining the team at Bee Tree, Kathryn worked at a goat farm in Vermont. Agricultural work runs in her family.

“My grandparents on both sides are very connected to farming and animal husbandry. My grandmother raised dairy goats, so I’ve been running around with and loving on goats since I was young. She hand milked her goats everyday, twice a day, and sold their milk to a cheesemaker. She inspires me.”

-Kathryn Ivey

Kathryn was brought on to help during kidding season. Her tasks included helping with births, feeding expectant mothers, and bottle feeding the kids a few days after birth.

“It’s amazing to watch them grow. They eventually go from the bottle to the lambar bucket. They get excited to see me when I bring them their milk and start running around. It’s adorable. There’s something so calming about them. Some are affectionate, some are funny to just sit and watch.”

-Kathryn Ivey
The Women of Bee Tree Farm in Austin Texas / Crafted in Carhartt
Jenna and her twins enjoying the farm’s newest additions.

“I opened the dairy when my twins were almost 1 year old. The first 3 years of their life are truly a blur – and for that I have regrets. I birthed 3 babies in one year essentially: the twins and this dairy.

I do wish they could have been older before I started. But then, I don’t think I ever would have started the dairy because the work has been so intense. I will say that as they’ve gotten older, I have been so grateful to share the farm and the animals with them.

While I do not include them in milking or cheese making, they do participate in goat care and spend a lot of time with the baby goats. It’s made them brave and strong and tough and caring in a way that I think would have happened had we stayed in Austin.

I wish I were more present. I wish I weren’t always worrying about the business or my animals, but it also forces them to see that while I love them more than anything, they are a part of this entire farm – they are not the center of the universe. And I personally feel that’s a valuable lesson for them to understand.

Hard work can have major benefits, but you have put in the work.” -Jenna Kelly-Landes

What Jenna wants everyone to know about goats:

  • Goats have an incredibly well-organized and structured hierarchy.
  • I wish people knew how passionately goats live and how honest they are with their emotions.
  • Goats raised by humans love their owners deeply – and sometimes they also hate their owners too, depending on hormones.
  • Whatever a goat does, she does it 150% and it’s something I have admired about them from the beginning.
  • They are absolutely herd animals and must never live as an only goat.
  • They are fierce protectors of their herd and fierce lovers of their people.
  • They have evolved alongside people being one of the first livestock to be kept by humans for meat, fiber, and milk. I personally believe this is why humans today have such a deep unknowable connection to them: we have walked beside them forever.
  • Fran told me years ago that goats are simultaneously incredibly hardy and fragile: they are extremely prone to parasites and as long as that’s kept in check they tend to tolerate all sorts of temperature and condition extremes.
  • They thrive when living in their most natural habitat which is rocky terrain with a lot browse.
  • They prefer browsing to grazing because of their parasite issues: grass always has more parasite growth so they tend to look upwards to for food first for leaves and vines and all the scrubby things that sheep, horses and cows might overlook.

Jenna cuddles Legs, whose limbs were unable to straighten after birth,
but with a little extra love is now able to walk and play with the other goats.

“Professional farming requires a person to relinquish nearly all of their control over…everything. All of the factors so essential to the business operations or almost completely beyond the realm of our control: animal health, weather, feed prices – etc. Twenty-twenty hit me like a train, as it did for everyone.

I do feel that, being a farmer, I have learned to adapt to change in a way that I wouldn’t have in many other types of professions. Farmers must be prepared to pivot constantly and they must be prepared to endure unspeakable heartbreak, bear witness to unspeakable sights, sounds, and smells. This work is for those people who have no need to make money and whose hearts rely on the intangible bonds made and trust earned with beasts. If you don’t feel rich from those relationships, then this isn’t for you.”

-Jenna Kelly-Landes
The Women of Bee Tree Farm in Austin Texas / Crafted in Carhartt

Follow Bee Tree Farm on instagram for live updates.

The Austin Forging Competition with The Battle Belles

The Austin Forging Competition, held each year at Community First! Village, is an exhilarating clash of some of the most talented blacksmiths in the country.

The battle of the metal workers rages 3 hours, and contestants are only permitted to use unpowered hand tools. The pounding of hammers ring on hot metal as flames blaze from each corner of the square arena, deep in the rolling woods of central Texas. Only a 4 foot barrier of wooden beams and corrugated metal separate the competitors from spectators. Children and grownups alike, stare wide-eyed from the sidelines as age-old techniques are used to bend metal to each artist’s will.

Throughout the events of the day, I followed the Battle Belles around.

Blacksmith Competition / Crafted in Carhartt

The Battle Belles:
Blacksmiths Elizabeth and Anne Team Up in Austin Forging Competition

The two meet in a class at Penland School of Craft in 2007. Since then, they’ve followed each others’ careers–enjoying their friend’s success from afar. When Anne was invited to participate in the forging competition, she knew Elizabeth would be the perfect partner.

Elizabeth’s Background:

I got into blacksmithing at Penland School of Craft in North Carolina. I originally signed up for an 8 week woodworking class and hated it! But as luck would have it, there was an iron studio right next door calling my name. 

Metal work is my full-time job. I just finished with a two year blacksmithing apprenticeship at the Metal Museum in Memphis. I am now in what some people would call journeyman mode. I travel around working on metalwork in different places and learning from different people. I have equipment in storage, waiting for the right time to land and setup a forever shop.” –Elizabeth Belz

Blacksmith Competition / Crafted in Carhartt

Elizabeth worked in healthcare for 13 years before she dedicated her life to metalwork. Currently, she’s working at John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina. Elizabeth assists with their marketing and development departments. She’ll be helping pilot new classes with them this fall. You can browse Elizabeth’s work on her website.

Anne’s Background:

I discovered blacksmithing while I was a student at Oregon College of Art and Craft in Portland. I was in the Metals Department, which specialized in jewelry, holloware, and small sculpture.

I had no idea that blacksmithing was something that people did, let alone that it has an amazing contemporary community producing incredible sculpture and architectural work. The summer between my 2nd and 3rd year, I received scholarships to attend Haystack Mountain School of Craft and Penland School of Craft.

I fell utterly in love with the process.” –Anne Bujold

Anne received her MFA in the Craft and Material Studies Department at Virginia Commonwealth University so she could teach at a college level and perfect her skills. She recently completed a two year residency at the Appalachian Center for Craft in Smithville, TN, and is currently working on a collaborative project through the end of the year. You can browse her work on her website.

Elizabeth has competed in several different events. Each time has given her greater confidence and taught her new skills you an only learn in the arena.

“It’s not all about showing off and winning. It’s about showing up, hanging out, exchanging ideas, being inspired—showing the public what can be done with metal work.” –Elizabeth Belz

This was Anne’s first time competing. The nervousness weighed on her as she stepped in the ring, but she instantly felt reassured as the process began. The crowd of onlookers faded from thought as her work intensified.

It was really amazing to drop into being focused with so much going on around us.

That’s the beauty of blacksmithing. When you have a piece of hot metal in the forge, that’s the only thing that matters in that moment. If you fail to keep your attention focused, it can burn up in no time, and you only have a short window to work it when you bring it out of the fire.

It’s very much a practice of being in the present moment.” –Anne Bujold

“I think one of the biggest misconceptions people have about blacksmithing and fabricating in general is that it’s for big, strong men. I mean look at me! If I can do this, anyone can if they have the desire!” –Elizabeth Belz

“It’s hard work, and it’s dirty, but anyone who is passionate about this work is capable of doing it.” –Anne Bujold

The duo decided to construct a Bat Bell for their entry. As the only female team, Anne and Elizabeth joked that they would be the “belles of the ball,” hence the name Battle Belles. What else would they craft but handmade bell?

The bat nods to the location of the competition. Austin is famous for the Mexican free-tailed bat colony that lives under the South Congress Bridge. All throughout summer, crowds gather along the river hoping to catch a glimpse of the tiny winged mammals. It’s quite the sight to see one of the world’s largest bat colonies in flight, silhouetted against the brilliant hues of a Texan dusk.

“I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia at a really young age. I think I was in my 20’s, and now I am 33 years old. I am currently waiting on an official diagnosis of Lupus. It’s not something I run around telling everyone, but it’s something I wake up with every day.

Sometimes it takes me a little longer than it should to get out of bed, but blacksmithing and metal work are what get me going every day. It sucks to be in pain all the time, but when you are heating metal up to 2000 degrees and hitting it with a sledge hammer—who has time to worry about the pain? It is really just you, fire, and that metal.” –Elizabeth Belz

There is a lack of diversity in the field, and that’s something that needs to be actively addressed.

I am part of a project called the Society of Inclusive Blacksmiths. We started with a group project in 2018 and have been working towards building a community that can support, encourage, and inspire folks who want to pursue this work—because this work is for anyone who wants to do it.

We are developing a scholarship project, to provide direct support to underrepresented folks to take classes, as well as a mentorship project. Both will be launching before the end of the year.

It can be really hard to step into something when you don’t see yourself represented in that world, whether that’s race, gender, sexual orientation, or physical limitations. Building a network of support for those who encounter systemic barriers to pursuing their ambitions is important.

Blacksmithing will only benefit from having a more diverse pool of practitioners, bringing new perspectives to the craft.” –Anne Bujold

Both Elizabeth and Anne are involved in the Society of Inclusive Blacksmiths, doing their best to make the world of metal more inclusive.

“The community around smithing is one of my favorite parts. That really shines at an event like the AFC. The people who pursue this craft are some of the smartest, most driven, interesting people I’ve had the pleasure to spend time with. I feel so lucky to call these folks my friends.

Then of course there’s the making itself, which is incredibly gratifying. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever tried to do, but seeing my work improve over time is really satisfying.” –Anne Bujold

Blacksmith Competition / Crafted in Carhartt

The Battle Belles add the finishing touches to their handcrafted Bat Bell.

The Battle Belles may not have won the competition that day, but they had fun and pushed themselves to greater heights in their careers. It was encouraging to see their friendship translate into the world of hot metal and creativity.

The community of metalworkers is constantly growing. If you’re interested, check out the Society of Inclusive Blacksmiths. There is a place for you to learn and flourish.

Dirty hands: proof of a job well done

Austin Farmer Tiffany Washington

Tiffany Washington, also known by her farmer alter ego Nancy Farm Fancy, operates the only black owned farm within Austin’s city limits. She’s a food justice warrior, protecting her childhood home by planting a nutritional defense around her community.

The experiences of her past have greatly influenced her current path.

I enlisted in the US Navy straight out of high school. I come from a family of community activists and military servicemen. As an Intelligence Specialist I deployed onboard the USS George Washington in 2004 during OIF/OEF. My job was providing research and information to higher ranking personnel.

While faced with the hazards of combat, I was also subjected to the ugliness of sexual harassment and racial discrimination while fighting for my country. This lead me on a spiraling path of depression, self-doubt, and a battle with PTSD that I continue to push through today.

Finding farming after service has provided the safe space for my healing and self-care while handling the effects of trauma. In today’s atmosphere, my farm has become a beacon of hope within my community. It allows me to continue my public service work with purpose.

Farming is the most underrated public service in the United States! Every community deserves the benefits of sustainable food practices, especially those used on small scale farms such as mine. Urban farming is the road to increased local food consumption. A healthier food system will emerge from the sharing of small farm culture.” -Tiffany Washington

Tiffany racked up experience before digging deep into her own ventures.

  • She took an 18 week beginners course with Farmshare Austin.
  • She completed a year long program, Battleground to Breaking Ground, for veterans at Texas A&M.
  • She worked with a mentor, providing hands on training for 100 hours on her own property.

Austin Farmer Tiffany / Crafted in CarharttTiffany signed her first commercial land lease in September of 2018. She worked with a local property owner willing to let her farm a quarter acre of their land. This tiny plot and founding place of Dobbin-Kauv Garden Farm is located in the neighborhood where Tiffany grew up. Unfortunately, that area and the folks who call it home, are now facing gentrification at an alarming rate.

Through that lease and the cultivation of the land, Tiffany’s mission is:

“to highlight and preserve Black Farm Heritage in Austin, Texas by growing quality produce, using organic practices. We connect families and communities with local Food and Farmers.”

Austin Farmer Tiffany / Crafted in CarharttThe hectic life that surrounds a large family doesn’t prevent Tiffany from her public service. In fact, her kids inspire her to keep pushing, fighting for their neighborhood, and ensuring a place in society for small farms like hers.

I have 4 children ages 13, 7, 5, and 4. Three boys and one girl. My kids are sponges, so they want to learn everything. I think I work for them sometimes because they tell me what to do on the farm all the time!

Also I’m raising 3 black boys in a very scary racial climate. They are able to see what it means to make a difference amongst adversity—building a purpose beyond color.” -Tiffany Washington

Austin Farmer Tiffany / Crafted in CarharttAustin Farmer Tiffany / Crafted in Carhartt

As a veteran who has turned to farming as way to further her own personal treatment, Tiffany has advice for anyone struggling with PTSD.

Never be afraid or ashamed to ask for help. For years I struggled because of pride and the traditional idea that women of color are so strong that they never break. I come from a line of black women who’ve faced atrocities. That thought breaks me some days.

I depend on my friends, family, and doctors to support my growth. It’s okay to be vulnerable. There is someone out there who loves and supports you.

If you want to farm, go outside and get started. Seek out groups and local farmers. Volunteer. Take agriculture classes, business classes, and pull your britches up because this lifestyle is real.” -Tiffany Washington

Austin Farmer Tiffany / Crafted in CarharttAs a small farmer, fighting the economic and cultural roadblocks that prevent many sustainable growers from prospering, Tiffany offers her advice to other food justice warriors.

  • “Don’t be afraid to face your fears: the fear of being too young, too old, or too few in number.
  • Go out there, seek the information, and get into action.
  • Everyone should grow food regardless of farming aspirations.
  • Start with a local Farmer. Call one up they’re probably in a phone book!” -Tiffany Washington

Austin Farmer Tiffany / Crafted in CarharttTiffany is seizing this moment to reach out to the community and tap into resources for the farm.

Crowdfunding is our current objective. It provides us the chance to have our community and neighbors involved in the journey and growth of the farm itself. I’m extremely classic, so I’m all about direct mailing letters and updates to our friends!

We hope to expand the farm to a full 2 acres in the next 5 years. This would include buying the entire property.

We hope to have a commercial kitchen to develop value adding products like baby food and freeze dried snacks. By connecting with resources and increasing sales, we will see consistent growth that could place us in a position to venture into Agritourism.” -Tiffany Washington

If you can, make a donation to Tiffany and her amazing vision. Today’s work and hustle will lay a foundation for future generations to thrive and support one another.

The Jones Sisters of Jones Bar-B-Q in Kansas City

Meet sisters and pitmasters, Mary and Deborah Jones. But first, you’ll need to get in line.

These Bar-B-Queens have gone from local celebrities to internationally renowned culinary artists. Their no-frills approach inspired people to make the pilgrimage to Jones Bar-B-Q from places all over the globe, even as far as Australia.

Jones Bar-B-Q is a complete barbecue experience, it boasts an authenticity only found from a humble, family-run joint operating in a roadside parking lot. The sisters’ pit prowess draws a crowd, creating a friendly line of characters as flavorful as the reward for reaching the end of it. If you’re lucky there will be some burnt ends still up for grabs (burnt ends, a Kansas City delicacy, are the crispy point-ends of a smoked brisket). No matter the selection, they’re all delicious and best enjoyed from a patio picnic table watching 18 wheelers and locomotives grunt past.

The ambience is the perfect embodiment of the Jones Sisters, two pitmasters dedicated to sacred old-school practices and family recipe. They’re constantly in motion, operating with the coordination (and head-butting) that only a pair of sisters could possess.

“People always making a big deal about us being women pitmasters, but women have been doing things all along. We just never got credit for it.” -Deborah

The Jones Sisters, Kansas City Bar-B-Q/ Crafted in CarharttThe Jones Sisters, Kansas City Bar-B-Q/ Crafted in CarharttThe Jones’ family history is full of determination and hard work.

Leavy B. Jones Sr. laid the groundwork for Jones Bar-B-Q decades ago. Growing up during the depression made him resilient and wise. He was a proponent of honest work and honest business. That’s why he poured his soul into stoking the pit.

“When our daddy first opened the restaurant, he used to stand out on the street waving a racing flag at drivers to get them to pull over. He would give them a little taste of the barbecue for free, and that’s how he got customers.” -Deborah

Leavy’s creativity didn’t stop there, in fact you can still taste it today in the Jones Style BBQ Sauce. The sisters began bottling their famous flavors last year—but they’ll still never give up the secret ingredient. You’ll just have to try it for yourself.

There was a brief pause in business following the passing of Jones Sr., but the girls didn’t just inherit his culinary talent, but also his drive and work ethic.

“My daddy always taught us ‘I don’t care how many times you fall down. Get back up and brush yourself off.’” -Deborah

The sisters reopened their doors with a mission to put Deborah’s daughter, Izora, through school, debt free. Since then, they’ve accomplished that and so much more.

The Jones Sisters, Kansas City Bar-B-Q/ Crafted in CarharttThe Jones Sisters, Kansas City Bar-B-Q/ Crafted in CarharttThe Jones Sisters, Kansas City Bar-B-Q/ Crafted in Carhartt

“Our motto is freshness, freshness every day. It has to taste that way today, tomorrow, next week…It’s not the ovens. It’s not the holes in the ground, it’s not any of that. It’s actual cooking with wood—the fire, the smoke, the taste.” -Mary

The Jones Sisters, Kansas City Bar-B-Q/ Crafted in CarharttFollowing the stay-at-home orders issued in March, Deborah and Mary came up with a creative solution to social distancing. The sisters made their very own, temperature controlled barbecue vending machine. Now you can stop by for their famous meats and sauce at any hour.

Visit Jones Bar-B-Q in person, order their sauce online, or follow them for updates. 

Crafted in Carhartt was created to amplify the voices of working women to inspire and empower. And now more than ever, it’s pertinent to amplify the voices of working women of color so please read, learn from, and share the following statement from the Jones Sisters

Celebrate Women in Construction Week With the Metal Workers of Austin Community College

It brings great excitement to honor the talented metal workers of Austin Community College. This past Saturday, I got to sit in on a Technical Welding Class and a Blacksmithing Class. As I walked from lab to lab, I was struck by the camaraderie between all participating—whether it was a student and a teacher, two long time professionals, or a group of aspiring welders cheering each other on. There is a bond stronger than metal. These workers are fused together by sisterhood in the trades.

As Women in Construction Week kicks off, it’s the perfect time to focus on the greatness builders bring to the world and the benefits a career in building can bring to your life. Amplifying the voice of women in construction is one of Crafted in Carhartt’s main missions. So I will now step back and let you hear from each one of these incredible craftspeople.

Dawn Raines

“I am a Senior Lab Assistant for the Welding Technology Department at the Riverside Campus. I have been working in the Department for 10 years. I maintain the shop, assist students and faculty with their classes, troubleshoot and repair issues with machines, order materials and supplies, and run the tool room.”

Dawn’s Accomplishments Include:

  • Bachelor Degree in Art with a minor in Psychology (2006)
  • Associate degree in Art Metals (2014)
  • Welder Certifications in SMAW and FCAW Welding processes (2014)
  • She has been a fabricator, worked in a finish shop where she worked her way up to Final Assembly, and continued her education and personal work along the way.

“It’s a truly rewarding craft. You get to see your projects come to life and learn skills that will empower and inspire a gainful career in a thriving industry…Welding has such a broad scope of possibilities…There is just so much available in the field.” – Dawn Raines

Austin Community College / Women in Construction / Crafted in Carhartt

Mallory Richter

“I am a student at Austin Community College. For the past five years I have worked in the custom car and motorcycle industry. At the moment I currently weld and do custom car upholstery at a shop in Johnson city. Mainly all classic cars and bikes.

I grew up around a welding shop, and one day the guys told me to come back and help them with something. They suited me up and told me to quickly slide the electrode over the metal like a match. The first time I half way struck an arc, I was sold.

Any women that are even slightly interested in welding, I would tell them to jump into it and take a class or learn from someone you know. I heard a lot of nerve racking things about welding and the ‘culture’ of it growing up, but I really wanted to try it. Welding has changed my life in so many ways and every change has been amazingly positive.” -Mallory Richter

Naomi Barron

“I am a student at ACC, in the last year of completing my Associates Degree in Architectural and Ornamental metals.

I came from a background in sculpting and art, and as I graduated high school I wanted to find a way to support myself financially but also have the opportunity to include factors of art into my career. Welding has a beautiful way of combining function and visual aesthetics into the creation of everyday structures. From viewing an entire gate, with scrolls and delicate flowers, down to the weld bead that constructed the forms, and the finish, everything requires attention to detail. The idea of timelessness and practicality in metalwork drew me into starting my education with ACC in the welding dept.

Welding extends beyond the infrastructure of our society, brute strength and an every day 9-5 for many people. Welding is an art and a science, and to be good at it you have to recognize this.

  • Dive in and do not fear the heat!
  • Starting in a classroom is a great way to get comfortable and familiar with tools and techniques.
  • Enter the field with passion and respect, and own everything you do.
  • Take pride in your practice and no one can discourage you from what you’re working toward.

Honestly there aren’t many things I would say I needed to know before jumping into welding. For me, as a hands on learner the experience has taught me what I need to know along the way. You can gain some understanding reading books on how the process works, but the crucial information comes from having your hood down and a torch in your hands.

The best thing about welding is the opportunity to engage yourself fully into your work. In both my technical classes and my art classes, once you pick up the torch you become engulfed in what’s in front of you. It takes your focus and attention to lay down consistent beads, to hammer or mold the metal into forms, to see how small components create a larger object. It’s like having a moment to meditate for me, the sounds of electrons jumping across the arc, the rhythmic beating of a hammer, it takes your whole body working together; it uses the 5 senses fully engaged. Feeling the flow of both physical and mental energy to transform materials.” -Noami Barron

Austin Community College / Women in Construction / Crafted in Carhartt

Brooke Williams

“I am a welding instructor here at Austin Community College…

I dropped out of traditional college in 2003 and was trying to figure out my next steps. My brother introduced me to welding at his home shop and then told me to go down to Austin Community College to learn the trade. It’s been my passion ever since I stuck that first arc.” -Brooke Williams

Brooke’s experience since then:

  • she’s been in the industry for 15 years
  • worked as a welder fabricator for 8 years
  • been a certified welding inspector for 12 years
  • she’s taught welding for 11 years
  • served as department chair for 7 years
  • and has owned her own metal fabrication company for 6 years

Brooke’s advice for beginners:

  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions, make noise, be seen, and take up space.
  • Networking is one of the most important soft skills you can learn.
  • Embrace your mistakes because they’ll make you a better you.
  • It is a skill that takes years and decades of work and practice to learn and master. It is also such a large industry that you can spend your whole life learning new techniques, processes, and materials. It never stops evolving.

Amy Sherman

“I’m a currently a student studying metalsmithing. I have a BFA from Skidmore College with my focus in photography, photo silkscreen graphics, and painting. I took some sculpture and jewelry classes, but was always interested in metallurgy, metal sculpture and welding, and now more recently metalsmithing and blacksmithing.

The program ACC offers is fantastic, and a great alternative to traditional 4 year degrees. The welding certification gets you out making a great hourly wage in only 2 years. As an artist, there are also practical applications for the skills learned at ACC, from creating sculptures and showing/selling art, to creating decorative gates/finials, yard art, plant/mailbox hangers, bottle openers, coat hooks, etc. The possibilities are endless! There’s something deeply satisfying about making steel do your bidding, in what is traditionally a male dominated field, whether as a practical welder or a blacksmith.” -Amy Sherman

Austin Community College / Women in Construction / Crafted in Carhartt

Maren Scheie

  • In 1995, Maren joined the Army as a Metal Worker.
  • Eventually, she left active duty and moved back to Texas.
  • Since 2009, Maren has been in the reserves and has taught elementary school for 16 years.
  • In 2017, she was deployed to Kuwait.
  • Upon returning to the US, she reevaluated her career and decided to take welding classes.

“It is hard, but not the kind of hard that should stop anyone from starting to learn the skill. The way to become a good welder is lots of time practicing. It can also be frustrating because you think you are holding the electrode at the proper angle and it turns out you are way off. So you try again, again, again, and then suddenly you nail it.

The need for welders is rising, as the older folks retire, and all the kids are being told a 4 year degree is the way to go, trade schools are stigmatized. When I mention I’m in school for welding the response is very positive. That could be because I’m female and almost 50…not sure, but people are impressed. Because of the shortage of welders it’s a great field to get into. Jobs are waiting to be filled. And there’s something addicting about watching metal melt.” -Maren Scheie

Mary Jo Emerick

“I am a 40 year welder CWI, CWE, and a teacher. I learned to weld in Houston in 1976 started in structural steel SMAW, then after 2 years started Pipe welding GTAW, next I moved on to chamber welding  tantalum, titanium, and Niobium. Moved to Austin in 1981, in 1983 started working at the University of Texas at Applied Research Laboratory for the Navy Lab, and starting teaching welding 2010.” – Mary Jo Emerick

Advice from Mary Jo:

  • Welding is a job don’t take it personal.
  • Love what you are doing. There are so many areas you can go into.
  • Keep learning, the industry changes.
  • Fabrication involves math and seeing a part in three dimensions.
  • When metal making, if the end product is done right, it is a work of art.

Austin Community College / Women in Construction / Crafted in Carhartt

Erin Dooner

“I’m an interior designer/decorator, former lifestyle design shop owner, artist, student, and single mom. I’ve been doing interior design for over 15 years. I’ve always wanted to get into building and furniture design. I took a welding workshop a few years ago to explore more about welding for furniture design and fell in love it!  I wanted to be able to have the experience of building/welding to help me understand how to design better.

I wish I had started off taking more technical/vocation courses and dove into the craft. I can read about design all day but getting my hands dirty has been the best thing ever. 

ACC has been great. As an older woman and single mom re-imagining my career I’ve had nothing but support from the admin and teachers. I’ve never felt out of place and love the welding community here.

Welding can be for anyone. Any gender, any age, any experience level. You have to rely on your fellow workers to provide support and so all barriers kind of break down.” -Erin Dooner

Alexis Menedez

“I’m a second semester student. I work as a lab tech at the school.

Since I’ve started taking classes and telling people that, I’ve gotten mixed opinions. Most people look at me (a 5’5 120 lb woman) and express first shock and then admiration. But others look down on it because it’s a trade skill. I wish people didn’t look down on trades and I wish I knew how to change the negative and often condescending tones attached to people’s ideas of them.

Reason’s Alexis loves her trade:

  • The thrill of welding a bead that’s just right.
  • Feeling confident in my ability to build something. Welding makes me feel strong and confident.
  • Learning to weld is like nothing I’ve ever learned before and at first I felt entirely out of my element but now each new challenge just excites me.” -Alexis Menedez

Andrea Deleon

“I have been teaching small metals fabrication for 6 years at Creative Side Jewelry Academy. Even though I have basic skills in welding and fabricating, I take classes at ACC every now and then to make sure I hone my skills – there is always room for improvement. For the last few years, I have become a kind of ‘hired gun’ traveling around the country working for specific companies and artists that require my skills.

  • I graduated with a Studio Arts degree from the University of Texas; I learned how to make things using a multitude of mediums. Metals and sculpture was my emphasis.
  • Upon graduating I was a production glassblower working on glass lathes before transitioning to being a machinist (mostly working on a Bridgeport mill and Hardinge lathe) for a company that fixed electron microscopes. I was trained at the job.
  • I began teaching at the Jewelry Academy while working as a machinist and slowly transitioned into teaching more often since it felt so natural. Being an instructor allowed me the flexibility to pursue unique job opportunities and artist residencies as well as start an entrepreneurial endeavor making custom handmade knives.
  • I’ve worked as a museum fabricator and installer, art handler, scientific glassblower (very similar to welding and machining), and worked for artists nationwide and in Germany.

If anything I wish I could have told my former self not to worry so much about having a direct path; I really wish I would have known about all the opportunities I’ve been able to pursue due to my training and determination, but my career path has been anything but straight. It’s okay to put yourself out there and try things out.” -Andrea Deleon

Suzanne Baas

“I have been working in welding since 1998, when I got my first job doing ornamental ironwork after taking an intro class at ACC. Since then, I have worked for quite a few companies in Austin, started a shop of my own, and continued to take classes at ACC. This is a good time to mention that ACC has provided me with some truly amazing experiences and opportunities through the years. I got to study welding abroad in a sister-city program, as well as attend an extensive workshop in  Mexico with 20+ other blacksmiths from ACC. I have very warm feelings for the metals department, so when I was given the opportunity to teach there 3 years ago, I was very happy to try and do my best.

I became interested in welding when I was in college, studying liberal arts, but taking a broad range of studio art classes as well. I have a ton of metals classes on my transcript, but they were almost all working in non-ferrous metals on the small scale. I took one sculpture class where the instructor showed us stick welding, and I was dazzled. It was instantly something I wanted to do. I even dropped out of school, moved across the country, and tried to join up with this art group I idolized. I ended up back in school when my metal skills weren’t good enough to contribute to their projects.

What I wish I had known before starting my career is what I would like other women getting into welding to know:  it is best to have another facet or revenue stream besides welding or metalsmithing labor. A complimentary profession like welding inspection, CAD, design, architecture, construction, teaching, business or project management will really go a long way in opening doors as well as reducing stress when the unexpected happens.  I had to learn this the hard way when we had the financial crisis in 2008.

But, that being said, nothing would have deterred me from the path once I had found it. Nothing compares to the drama of molten steel, or the thrill of bending it to your will! Nothing compares to the magic of fusing metal together; with the formidable electric arc, or the punishing heat of gas or coal and your hammer. The power to build something new, making bonds that are stronger than the material it is made from, it is very gratifying. If you know your craft well, and execute your work with forethought and skill, you can count on your creations long outliving you.” -Suzanne Baas

Jessica Davila

“I’m a senior student in the ACC Code Welding program. So far I’ve had one official welding job which is a paid apprenticeship in pipe fitting/welding. This has allowed me to become a paid 6g certified welder.

I first became interested in welding in college. I had changed my major 4 times before I even thought about welding and was tired of sitting in a classroom behind a desk, so I tried out the Austin Community College welding program and I love it.

Jessica’s advice for aspiring welders:

  • Take up space and own it!
  • For women who want to join the trade, I say 100% do it and when you do, practice, practice, practice!
  • Get good! Anyone can say they’re a welder but the truth comes out then the hood goes down. 

Welding is not for the undetermined, and if you put in the time behind the hood and in the classroom reading blueprints it will pay off and set a good foundation for your career.” -Jessica Davila

Austin Community College / Women in Construction / Crafted in CarharttAustin Community College / Women in Construction / Crafted in CarharttAustin Community College / Women in Construction / Crafted in CarharttAustin Community College / Women in Construction / Crafted in CarharttAustin Community College / Women in Construction / Crafted in CarharttAustin Community College / Women in Construction / Crafted in CarharttAustin Community College / Women in Construction / Crafted in CarharttA big thank you to all the women building the world around us. You are an inspiration and an integral part of the world’s growth and well-being.

To find out more about Austin Community College, click here.

The Women of Hare Farm Hideaways in Sussex

For most, winter feels like an endless epoch come January and February. But this time of year on Hare Farm in East Sussex, everything and everyone are abuzz. Temperatures are still quite chilly as spring barely peaks over the horizon. In just a few days, lambing season begins. It generally lasts about 3 weeks, and over 1,700 lambs enter the world. The Howard family holds this time dearly. Not many people get to experience life multiplying in such a beautiful way.

“March. The month when new life emerges with gusto. When one pair of farm hands is multiplied by 5. When all eyes focus on the woolly kind, and when the valley turns green again.… It makes you remind yourself that, despite the tired limbs and small earnings to be made, working in the lambing sheds in the Spring is a special place to be.” -Jo Thompson

This sprawling grassland, once a hop farm dating back to medieval times, became fully dedicated to sheep in the 1990s. The pastures stretch across Brede Valley, rolling softly into marshlands and riverbeds. Several of the original structures still stand on the property. True conservationists at heart, the family restored each building with great care, using local and historically accurate supplies. The craftsmanship and perfectly positioned facets speak to how greatly tradition is honored.

A chance to experience the farm first hand is within reach in several ways:

  • The folks of Hare Farm offer a lambing course every March where you can witness this natural marvel up close. Students learn through instruction, observation, and by pitching in. The in-depth class covers the full lambing cycle—from tupping to weaning, basic sheep care, and other valuable tidbits.
  • The oast, where the hops were originally dried and stored from the 16th to the 19th century, is now an idyllic country home that sleeps 12. It’s available for rent as a guest house, allowing for a rare inside look at life in the countryside. As all farmers know, opening your backdoor and stepping right onto the pasture is a treasured perk of the job.
  • There is even an authentic shepherd’s hut where you can camp on the land as sheep herders did during the Victorian era.

Lambing class starts March 11th this year, but there is much to be done around the farm in the mean time. Some of those tasks include: shearing expectant mother’s backsides, vaccinating the sheep, setting up 145 lambing pens—each one housing a new mother and her babies, and planting a final line of hedging.

The Howards partner with Natural England as stewards of the land. The 500 acres they call home are happily shared with neighboring wildlife. You’ll easily spot rare birds, laughing frogs, badgers, and boars. There’s no telling what creatures you’re bound to see on the property, and that’s just the way the Howards like it. Creating a healthy equilibrium between raising sheep and nurturing the environment is paramount. Hedgerows, waterways, and areas dedicated to the wild coexist with the herds.

Hare Farm Hideaways in Sussex / Crafted in CarharttJo Thompson is co-owner of Hare Farm Hideaways. The land, along with the farming lifestyle was passed down by her parents. About 7 years ago, she started a lambing class unlike any other, allowing 8 to 10 students to spend time on the farm learning straight from the farmers’ mouths.

“There’s nothing like it. Farms don’t tend to open themselves up to the general public. Or if they do, hundreds of people show up. The courses I run are very hands on and helpful. It helps us educate the community and helps us promote British farming and sheep.” -Jo Thompson

Hare Farm Hideaways in Sussex / Crafted in CarharttHare Farm Hideaways in Sussex / Crafted in Carhartt

Paula Gwynne began her work at Hare Farm 2 years ago, since then she’s rapidly advanced. She plays a major role during lambing season, watches over the herds, tends to the gardens, and even runs the farm when the owners are away. Hare Farm Hideaways in Sussex / Crafted in CarharttHare Farm Hideaways in Sussex / Crafted in CarharttHare Farm Hideaways in Sussex / Crafted in CarharttHare Farm Hideaways in Sussex / Crafted in CarharttHare Farm Hideaways in Sussex / Crafted in Carhartt

Hare Farm Hideaways in Sussex / Crafted in Carhartt
Jo Thompson, Annie Howard, and Caroline Maddocks

Annie Howard lives on the farm. Her many responsibilities include managing the oast guest house, bottle feeding orphaned lambs, and ensuring that everything runs smoothly.

“Lambing time is draining, both physically and emotionally. From the month’s of build up beforehand making sure each ewe is in prime condition, feeding, preparing the sheds and planning for all eventualities.

Once lambing has started, we hope for kind weather and not the challenges of rain, wind and occasionally snow. The best time is seeing a ewe leave the shed, go out into a lush, green field on a warm sunny day, closely followed by her two healthy lambs.” -Annie Howard

Hare Farm Hideaways in Sussex / Crafted in CarharttHare Farm Hideaways in Sussex / Crafted in Carhartt

Hare Farm Hideaways in Sussex / Crafted in Carhartt
Caroline Maddocks and Paula Gwynne

Caroline Maddocks is a full time crop sprayer. With five and a half years of experience, she’s quickly worked her way up the ranks. Aside from tractor driving, she diligently looks after cattle. Caring for animals is in her blood.

During lambing season, you’ll find Caroline helping out on the ground. Born and raised on a farm herself, there’s no one more suited to lend a hand as new life emerges in the valley.

“I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my life.” -Caroline Maddocks

Hare Farm Hideaways in Sussex / Crafted in CarharttHare Farm Hideaways in Sussex / Crafted in Carhartt

“I remember being told that lambing time is like a marathon not a race, it’s hard physically and mentally, you need to pace yourself where you can, to be able to make sound decisions about when to intervene and to last the duration of lambing time. We work roughly 12 hour shifts every day for that duration to ensure continuity of care, so burning out early isn’t ideal. That shift is very busy, you need to keep an eye (and ears) on everything whilst carrying out all of your tasks.” -Paula Gwynnne

Paula’s advice for aspiring farmers:

  1. Know your fears and be prepared to manage and challenge them. Work through the low points and keep on at it. You’ll feel proud of yourself.
  2. Don’t give up if it doesn’t work first time, it may not be the right fit for you. I’ve been so lucky to have great mentors around me, they were definitely the difference between success and failure.
  3. Lastly, if you’re older like me (I’ve bought up my kids and had lost my confidence along the way) remember that you’re not past trying something new.

Hare Farm Hideaways in Sussex / Crafted in CarharttHare Farm Hideaways in Sussex / Crafted in Carhartt

To find out more about Hare Farm Hideaways, click here.

Brooklynn Roszak of Four T Acres

Electric yellow corncobs and the burnt orange woolen coats of Highland cattle pierce the blankets of blinding white snow in Burlington, Wisconsin. At a distance, with a sturdy fence between, this Scottish breed can give an impression of ferocity. Their wavy locks frozen into icicles, dangle like a spiked breastplate. Steam billows audibly from their nostrils. Their horns reach up tot he sky in a power stance that could quite literally knock you off your feet.

However, the closer you get to one of these long-haired beauties, the more you realize how flawed first impressions can be. Yes, these mighty beasts are huge—weighing up to 1,800 pounds—but they are surprisingly docile and good tempered. If they see you coming, they’ll slowly head your direction, hoping for a good brushing session. Highland cattle are well suited to cold temperatures, luckily enough for the four legged inhabitants of Four T Acres who often find themselves in winter flurries. And those terrifying horns are tools to dig for plants to eat beneath snow’s surface.

In a stark contrast to the large mammals slowly plodding across the pastures, you’ll find sixteen year old, Brooklynn Roszak, briskly making her way along the snowy slopes of her grandparents’ farm. She feels a bit less at home in the low temperatures than her shaggy companions, but that won’t keep her indoors for long.

The property has been in Brooklyn’s family for generations. But there was a time when it fell dormant. That is until 2003, when Rich and Jean Gruenert introduced 3 registered purebred Scottish Highland cows and 6 calves to the land. The entire family felt immediately connected to the gentle giants, eventually increasing their numbers into a herd. Those once intimidating nostrils, breathed new life into Four T Acres.

Brooklyn, like the rest of her family, has a deep affection for Highland cows. She is part of the Junior Association, supported by the NCHCA (North Central Highland Cattle Association). Each year, she participates in 2 to 3 cattle shows and has won many awards along the way. As a junior in high school, Brooklyn participates in a lot of activities. Some of her favorites are trap shooting on her school’s team and hunting with her dad. She even holds down a job on top of it all.

Life on the farm has brought Brooklnn closer to her family, instilled a great appreciation for detail and thoroughness, broadened her sense of community, and allowed her to meet new people as she travels to cattle competitions in new places.

Four T Farms / Crafted in CarharttFour T Farms / Crafted in Carhartt

Jean Gruenert, pictured above, is Brooklynn’s grandmother. The farm was originally her grandfather’s, passed down to her father, and it now belongs to her. Jean loves when folks visit the farm. There’s a lot to learn about Scottish Highland cattle, and she’s anxious to share. The Gruenerts host school field trips, allowing young people an opportunity to learn about farming first hand while getting closer to their food source.

Four T Acres has participated in several studies, gathering information on various beefs. Time and time again, the results have proven that the meat from Highland cattle is superior to Angus on scales of tenderness and flavor.

Four T Farms / Crafted in Carhartt

“The Highland breeds are the coolest breed of cattle you will ever meet and by far the most interesting. When it comes to iconic domestic animals, the Highland cow is instantly recognizable across the globe. With their fluffy coats and long horns, they are an important part of Scotland’s culture. These cows are perfect in many ways. They adapt to harsh conditions, they’re the oldest registered beef breed of cattle in the world, and they have an outstanding beef quality so their meat tastes delicious and is also very healthy.” -Brooklynn Roszak

Four T Farms / Crafted in Carhartt

“I love being able to grab one of the combs and walk into the pasture and go spend some time with the animals. Having them walk up to me and letting me comb them is so fun and it makes me feel good knowing I have their trust and they are comfortable with me.” -Brooklynn Roszak

Four T Farms / Crafted in Carhartt“I’ll admit, it was scary to enter the show ring for the first time with everyone watching, but with my family by my side to guide me through everything, it was easy-peasy. Each show I have won awards, whether it’s ribbons, trophies, or plaques to hang on my wall. With being a part of the Junior Association and showing in general, I have met so many new people from all over the country and made many new friends!” -Brooklynn Roszak

Advice from Brooklynn about working with Highland Cattle:

Highland cattle are known for their calm nature and easy going disposition. That being said, there are some techniques and rules that people will learn as they go through years with their own herds of cattle. Some great tips include:

  • Spend time with your cattle. Highlands are social animals. They know their herd mates and how to interact with them. Become a part of that herd. If possible, walk out among them several times a week, even if only for a few minutes. Let them get to know who you are. The more familiar they are with you, the easier it will be when you need to move or handle them.
  • This time spent with them is also a good time to check for problems such as injuries or illness. The more familiar you are with them, the easier it is to recognize when something isn’t normal.
  • Move slowly around the cattle. Fast movement indicates to the herd that something is wrong. Even the calmest animal will run the other way if you go running down to the fence or run up to the herd. Take your time when approaching them and let them know that you are there with both verbal and visual cues.

4 T Farms / Crafted in Carhartt

“Throughout the years of being involved with the farm, it has brought me closer to my dad and his side of the family. And that I am extremely grateful for. Along with new experiences, I have learned many life lessons along the way.

  • I have learned to value the commitment. Farming and working with cattle has taught me that in every task, may it be big or small, once it has been started you should be giving it your best and not let it be left undone.
  • Another thing I have learned is that great things take time. At first, I was the new kid from the city and I wasn’t 1st place ribbon status yet. I learned from these experiences and figured out how to accept little disappointments in my life and be patient.
  • And lastly but most importantly, family and teamwork is very important on the farm. No matter what struggles come along, we all have each others backs and help each other out in any way we can. I am very grateful for the opportunities my family has given me by showing me what the farm life is like.

I wouldn’t be the person I am today without my dad and grandparents by my side teaching me the rights and wrongs of life and all the good things farming can teach children.” -Brooklyn Roszak

Learn more about Four T Acres here.

Insights from the Incredibly Hardworking Women of 2019

Every year I’m lucky to spend time with hard working women across the globe. I get to see where they work and learn why they love what they do. Without fail, each woman has something important to share. Here are a few of my favorite moments from 2019.

Brewers Fenna van Strien and Tessel de Heij

Advice from Brewer Tessel de Heij to Starting Your Own Beer Company:

  • Just start brewing and you will be motivated by all the positive reactions from the people around you!
  • Write everything down very carefully.
  • Clean Clean Clean! One bacteria can destroy your beer.
  • It is important to be able to share your successes and failures, so bring at least 1 partner into your business.
  • The people you hire are your most important asset.
  • It is really, really hard work, so you HAVE to like what you do, otherwise you won’t be able to keep going.

Mijs and Runa van de Griek, Amsterdam Houseboat Residents

“We think Amsterdam cannot be without houseboats. It’s part of the scenery. Most of the people who live on a boat are handy people, who are kind and would love to help each other. We are a bit more independent than people who live in a ‘normal’ house, because we need to do more things.

My grandfather taught me how to build things with wood. My father taught me how electricity works and what you can do with that. And I’m a bit handy myself, so I don’t really ask people to come and make stuff at our ship, I just do it myself. I built us a cupboard. I wanted to have more light in our ship, so I’ve taken the jigsaw one day and sat on our roof and sawed two large windows in our roof. We also wanted a fireplace, so we made that ourselves as well. I’m used to fix things myself and don’t ask for help, and I kinda like that.” -Mijs van de Griek

Mother-Daughter Ironworkers, Carolina and Kat in Seattle

Ironworker Carolina Taylor’s Advice for Aspiring Tradespeople:

  • take good care of yourself
  • spend quality time with your family
  • continue making goals to achieve the next positions as a union member (ie: business agent, organizer, union president, apprenticeship instructor, coordinator)
  • be a dream-chaser, goal-reacher, and butt-kicker

Woodcarver Silje Loa

“If you want to become a carver, get carving. Looking at carvings at museums and in historical buildings is amazing inspiration and can even give you an understanding of how they were made, but really just find a piece of wood, a chisel and begin.” -Woodcarver Silje Loa

Stone Carver Miriam Johnson

“Creating something so permanent in the world is such a satisfying thing to do, and to have the chance, as I often do, to work on historic buildings is such an honour. Things that I have made with my hands will live on long past me. To be part of a trade that is so old, using methods that have not changed that much in hundreds of years is something that is wonderful. I also feel really lucky to have a job that could take me anywhere in the world, there is so much to explore!

It isn’t all rosy though. I can often work in pretty harsh environments, using an angle grinder all day, having to wear masks, goggles, gloves etc. Often I work outside, I’ve worked in snow, and sleet, and rain. Working in awkward places high up on scaffolding, lifting heavy loads, and working long hours.” -Stone Carver Miriam Johnson

Woodcarver Zeinab Harding

“Learning a traditional skill is a continual learning process. The more mistakes you make the more you will learn!” -Woodcarver Zeinab Harding

Stone Carver Sue Aperghis

“In my career when I first started, I tried to hide the fact I was dyslexic but I came to realize (and I would suggest it to others) that you should embrace the things that you find most challenging, and work hard and smart to get round your difficulties. Maybe try a different angle on how to learn. The most successful things I’ve done in art is when I confront my Demons the most.” -Stone Carver Sue Aperghis

Rachael Messner of Messner Bee Farm

Rachael’s Advice for Running a Small Business:

  • Work for other small businesses first. Most of it is not glorious work. It is moping the floors, crunching numbers, and getting stung. Before running the Bee Farm, I worked for 6 small businesses and I got to see behind the scenes. I’m grateful for the experience so I had the right expectations.
  • The transition that made us happiest was moving the business out of our actual house. It’s so nice to have a place to retreat to for rest. If it’s not possible to move your business out of the home, try to put it in its own space. It’s exhausting to feel like you’re always at home and always at work.

Helena from Happy Acre Farm

“It’s a lot of hard and dirty work, early mornings, late nights, and learning curves. We don’t get off the farm much during the season, unless you count doing farmers markets, and our date nights are usually spent in the fields with leftovers and a cold beer. But it’s worth every moment, to do something we’re both truly passionate about, and we’re excited to watch our family grow and raise our children to follow their own path, wherever it may lead.” -Helena of Happy Acre Farm

Farmer Nikolette Barnes

The best part of my work is being surrounded by the next generation of food revolutionaries! I absolutely am blessed to be able to teach the babies how to grow, cook, and love the food that they grew for themselves. I also love completely transforming the mindset of someone who didn’t think they could grow food or enjoy fresh vegetables. It’s pretty rewarding.

The most challenging part of my work is dispelling the myths and breaking down the walls that result from misinformation about healthy eating and agriculture. It’s also very difficult to do this work while actively fighting against the system of oppression that creates tangible barriers to families having access to fresh locally grown food.” -Nikolette Barnes of Keep Growing Detroit

Anita Singh, Youth Programs Coordinator at Keep Growing Detroit

Drawing from her background as a high school science teacher, she runs the farm education program. Anita has developed youth programs in many different cities, including Cartegena, Columbia.

Lindsay Pielack is a Co-Director of Keep Growing Detroit

“I would recommend that everyone, young or old, try their hand at growing something. You don’t have to commit to growing all your own food, just get connected to where your food comes from. There are lots of ways to do this, as simply as starting a container of herbs in your window or volunteering at a garden or farm near you.” -Lindsay Pielack of Keep Growing Detroit

Imani S. Foster, Farmers’ Market Coordinator at Keep Growing Detroit

“The food a person sustainably grows is so much better than what’s bought in the supermarkets. Placing your hands in the soil is healing. A person can reestablish relations with family and friends by working together…

One of the best parts of my work is helping the small gardener earn capital. Of course, I love that our customer base continues to grow. There is something so exciting about folks coming to the table and sharing how glad they are that we are back for the season. I know that the work I’m doing as the Grown in Detroit Market coordinator is retooling the culture that this is their (the gardeners’) business to grow.” -Imani Foster of Keep Growing Detroit

Molly Hubbell, Farm Operations Coordinator at Keep Growing Detroit

Farmers don’t have superpowers, we rely on intuition. That intuition comes with time and patience, and can be learned by anyone willing to put the time in.” -Molly Hubbell of Keep Growing Detroit

Lola Kristi Gibson-Berg, Community Education Coordinator at Keep Growing Detroit

“Farming makes me feel hopeful. It’s a privilege to be connected to a community of people in the city who know how to grow food, enjoy doing so, and are cultivating and growing their communities.” -Lola Kristi Gibson-Berg of Keep Growing Detroit

Crane Operator Apprentice, Jessica Knight

“I do not keep my head down. I make others know my presence at work. I befriend my coworkers of all trades. We are here for one common goal: finish the job and go home safely.

Never be afraid to look at any piece of equipment and say, ‘Yeah, I want to learn this!’ Give ‘em hell ladies!” -Jessica Knight

Operating Engineer Elizabeth Kavanagh

I think any young woman that wants to get in the trades should go for it. You can always change what you do. If you think you are interested, give it a shot. You can’t tell if you like it or not if you don’t try.

Being in a union is a good thing. They will have your back. Also, I joined when I was 20, so I started getting benefits and started my pension before most people my age. Sometimes it is hard work, but it can be very rewarding in the future.” -Elizabeth Kavanagh

Operating Engineer Ashley O’Grady

“I went through the operators apprenticeship program. The training from that gave me the confidence and skills I needed to be successful in the field. I have found support in all my brothers and sisters I’ve met through my union… I feel a great sense of pride when I get to see the finished product, knowing I played a big role helping build it.” -Ashley O’Grady

Operating Engineer Christi Smith

“You work with a lot of great people on great jobs. And you always have a support system. The union takes care of you, keeping up to date with technology and providing a place where you can improve your skills. You’re a part of a group of people who are proud of their work and what they do.” -Christi Smith

Operating Engineer Danielle Athey

“In one year, I see myself getting close to graduating the apprenticeship and eventually becoming a journeyman. In five years, I see myself traveling the country with my work. In ten years, I hope by then I have my own house and property…

My advice is don’t be afraid of anything. Have confidence and don’t ever think you can’t ask for help. The support from my coworkers helped me more than anything.” -Danielle Athey

Operating Engineer La’Tasha Smith

“Honesty, I never had any interest in the trades. I went to a career fair and one of the female coordinators approached me and was able to convince me to give it a shot.

I was 28 and broken—lost, homeless, and defeated!! Life had run me over with a truck and backed up to finish the job!! I felt hopeless. So I told her that there was no way I’d ever make it into that career, especially with no experience!! But she was convinced I could, and I actually did!

The training is very intimidating and fast paced. The obstacles I faced were being able to quickly adapt to the new career culture which is made up of predominantly males, learning new machines quickly and safely, remembering all the rules and regulations, schedule changes, and weather conditions affecting work.” -La’Tasha Smith

Farmer and Woodworker Brit McCoy

“Working with family is incredibly rewarding. You’re working looking towards the same goal, the same future and are focused on the same dream. However, it does have some challenges when the family doesn’t see exactly eye-to-eye.

Urban wood is an incredibly beautiful way to share our stories with future generations. The urban trees we use in our shop have incredible ties to family stories and we love helping other families let their stories live on through fine furniture. We are honored to be a part of that process, tree to table.” -Brit McCoy

Sheep Breeder Rebecca Krinsky

“First time sheep owners should seek out information from current breeders to help find the right breed for them. Different breeds require different housing, grooming, and feeding routines. No two breeds are exactly the same. If you do your research, there will be one breed that will fit your personality, needs, and wants better than the others. If you pick the right one to start out with, you will be hooked and possibly find other breeds to connect with over time.” -Rebecca Krinsky of Slack Farms

Thanks for following along with us. I can’t wait to introduce you to even more hard working women in 2020. 

Rebecca Krinsky of Slack Farms

Rebecca Krinsky of Slack Farms in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin has been raising sheep for almost 30 years. It’s not an easy job. It requires a mix of physical labor, a vast knowledge of genetics and breeding, and a big heart. This is a profession that calls for many sleepless nights. There will be hard times. Not all lambs make it to adulthood, and that can be heart-wrenching.

But like every farmer has uttered at one time or another, “maybe next year” rings with resilience and dedication to your flock.

“I wish everyone knew just how enjoyable and rewarding it is to see the results after you put in all the hard work. There is no way to explain the joy you get when you work hard to put the right genetics together to raise a better animal than what you currently have and actually succeed. Many people can buy a champion quality animal, but few can raise one.” -Rebecca Krinsky of Slack Farms

Slack Farms / Lake Geneva, Wisconsin / Crafted in Carhartt

All the experience Rebecca has acquired over the years has come with many awards and recognition.

From 4-H and FFA, she’s won several of the following:

  • state and national champions
  • showmanship championships on state and national levels
  • states and national FFA degrees

Rebecca’s won state fair championships in the following states:

  • Oklahoma
  • Kansas
  • Arkansas
  • Missouri
  • Iowa
  • Illinois
  • Wisconsin

Rebecca has also won many National Breed Champions and has been the groomer/handler for 2 National Supreme Champions at the North American International Livestock Expo.

Slack Farms / Lake Geneva, Wisconsin / Crafted in CarharttSlack Farms / Lake Geneva, Wisconsin / Crafted in Carhartt

Now Rebecca runs workshops in several states to coach youth on their sheep projects. In these clinics, she covers basic maintenance, grooming techniques, feeding, breeding and showmanship. She’ll often work on individual levels to further their personal skills as they navigate farming at a young age.

Rebecca is passionate about helping beginners, with no prior experience, get to state and national competitions.

“I like to help families who think that they can’t afford to have champion quality sheep by creating a plan so that they can find a way with the right guidance.” -Rebecca Krinsky of Slack Farms

If you purchase any lambs from Slack Farm, Rebecca is now offering a free clinic to ensure every customer has the information and skills they need to successfully raise sheep.
Slack Farms / Lake Geneva, Wisconsin / Crafted in Carhartt

Slack Farms / Lake Geneva, Wisconsin / Crafted in Carhartt
an ewe and her brand new baby lamb just moments after birth

“First time sheep owners should seek out information from current breeders to help find the right breed for them. Different breeds require different housing, grooming, and feeding routines. No two breeds are exactly the same. If you do your research, there will be one breed that will fit your personality, needs, and wants better than the others. If you pick the right one to start out with, you will be hooked and possibly find other breeds to connect with over time.” -Rebecca Krinsky of Slack Farms

At just 7 years old, Rebecca began her work with the Suffolk breed. Over the years her herd has expanded to also include Hampshire, Dorper and Oxford breeds.

“Raising sheep can be a great experience for so many reasons. The memories and the time you spend together is something very special and will last a lifetime. Sheep are very reasonable in price to raise and maintain compared to many other animals. Their temperaments are great and they all have their own personalities. Sheep are very smart and easy to train through repetition.” -Rebecca Krinsky of Slack Farms

Slack Farms / Lake Geneva, Wisconsin / Crafted in CarharttSlack Farms / Lake Geneva, Wisconsin / Crafted in CarharttKeep up with Rebecca and her work at Slack Farms on instagram or facebook.

Shop Small with these Women Owned Businesses

It’s that time of year again, when we’re all looking to support the small businesses our communities hold dear. Purchasing goods and services from the pillars of your favorite neighborhood is the best way to show your support.

Here’s the quick list of Crafted in Carhartt’s favorite Women Owned Businesses (in order of appearance above):

  1. Messner Bee Farm
  2. Woodward Throwbacks
  3. Seattle Urban Farm Co.
  4. Homestead Wisconsin
  5. Blue Marble Ice Cream 
  6. Sustainable Crafted Wooden Goods by Alexandra Climent
  7. Sculptures by Amber Jean
  8. Circa Ceramics
  9. Greta de Parry Design
  10. The Little Flower Soap Co.
  11. The Elk Coffee Shop
  12. Amaltheia Dairy Farm
  13. Pewabic Pottery
  14. Live Edge Detroit
  15. Five Marys Farms

Below you can find out more about these 15 Women Owned Small Businesses. If you shop online this holiday season, don’t forget these incredibly hard working folks.

1.) Messner Bee Farm Shop small this Small Business Saturday (and Cyber Monday) with these Women Owned Businesses / Crafted in CarharttRachael Messner of Messner Bee Farm in Kansas City spun her hobby into a flourishing business. Her operations began as a 900 square foot urban farm. Over years of never giving up despite what different seasons showered upon her, Rachael and her family now live on a full-fledged bee farm. You can even stop by for a tour if you’d like to know more about where your honey comes from.

“Honeybees pollinate over one-third of all the fruits and vegetables we eat. Of course they also make honey! The best way people can help bees is by minimizing their use of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides, and supporting other organizations that do the same. Buy local honey, support your local beekeeper.” –Rachael Messner
Shop some of Rachael’s products here. Read more about Rachael’s story here.
Shop small this Small Business Saturday (and Cyber Monday) with these Women Owned Businesses / Crafted in Carhartt
Bo Shepherd and her partner Kyle started Woodward Throwbacks in 2013 as a means to repurpose much of the discarded lumber and abandoned antiques that plagued Detroit’s streets. Their shop has moved from location to location, each time scaling up and offering even more goods and services.
“My dad is a general contractor back in New York and when I was younger I used to go on some of the sites with him. I believe that is when I truly became fascinated with the idea of being able to design and build.

I started re-purposing found wood back in college but it became a serious hobby once I met Kyle. We used to bike around the city exploring different neighborhoods and during our excursions we noticed an abundance of wood from illegal dumping sites. We combined our love for the city and the idea that taking materials found in the street would also help clean our neighborhoods.” -Bo Shepherd 

Through their website you can shop salvaged doors, custom made and reclaimed furniture, and handmade goods. Read more about Bo’s story here.

3.) Seattle Urban Farm Co.Shop small this Small Business Saturday (and Cyber Monday) with these Women Owned Businesses / Crafted in CarharttHilary Dahl is co-owner of Seattle Urban Farm Co. and host of the Encyclopedia Botanica podcast. The podcasts are quick lessons in farming, each one is easy to access—you can listen to them online and read the highlights.

Seattle Urban Farm Co. offers many services, and they differ from customer to customer. Their knowledgeable team can plan, build, and maintain the urban farm you always wanted but never thought you could personally manage—perfect for those of us who may not have a green thumb, but love the idea of homegrown tomatoes.

If you are an aspiring farmer or gardener, browse the different webinars Seattle Urban Farm Co has to offer on their website, ranging from soil health to harvesting techniques. These online lessons are a great gift (for yourself or loved ones).

Read more about Hilary’s story here.

4.) Homestead WisconsinShop small this Small Business Saturday (and Cyber Monday) with these Women Owned Businesses / Crafted in CarharttBrit McCoy is a woman of many talents. She’s a full time farmer, runs her own flower business, and works at her family’s business, The Wood Cycle. Making strides in her career alongside her family is the most challenging and most fulfilling part of the job

Brit majored in Landscape Architecture at Iowa State University. Upon returning to Wisconsin, she and her husband Matt founded their own farm, first selling their ethically raised meat, eventually expanding their reach.

“My business started just like my father’s, to make our hobby our career. I started raising livestock as soon as I could afford to feed them.” -Brit McCoy

You can order a box of their fine grass-fed beef and lamb here. Read more about Brit’s story here.

5.) Blue Marble Ice Cream Shop small this Small Business Saturday (and Cyber Monday) with these Women Owned Businesses / Crafted in CarharttTen years ago, Jennie Dundas and Alexis Gallivan, opened Blue Marble Ice Cream in Brooklyn. Their products are entirely organic, made from only high quality ingredients, and absolutely no hormones, antibiotics, harmful pesticides or artificial additives. Manufacturing in New York with ethical and sustainable practices is crucial to this woman-run company.

“Nobody can really be sad eating ice cream, can they?” -Susan Jo, Ice Cream Chef

Ship Blue Marble Ice Cream straight to your front door here. Read more about Blue Marble here.

6.) Sustainable Crafted Wooden Goods by Alexandra ClimentShop small this Small Business Saturday (and Cyber Monday) with these Women Owned Businesses / Crafted in CarharttMeet woodworker Alexandra Climent. She operates out of her own shop in Brooklyn. Her passion for the extraordinary wood she found in the jungle lead her to teach herself the trade.

All of the products Alexandra makes are set apart from other wooden goods. She sustainably sources her materials from the jungle, befriending locals and working with each regions’ governments along the way. The wood she harvests and brings back to her shop is ancient, packed tightly over years and years.

“The wood I use is some of the most dense in the world. When you put it in the water it sinks and termites can’t even penetrate it. It’s like working with steel, and it breaks pretty much any blade.” -Alexandra Climent

Shop Alexandra’s one-of-a-kind creations here. Read more about Alexandra here.

7.) Sculptures by Amber JeanShop small this Small Business Saturday (and Cyber Monday) with these Women Owned Businesses / Crafted in CarharttFrom giant sculptures made from entire trees to carvings that fit in your hand, the interplay between humans and nature is the driving force behind Amber’s work. She put herself through college, finding work in the great outdoors that fueled her passion for earth and art.

Amber helped build the Continental Divide Trail, was part of the first all female crew at the Forest Service in Bozeman, fought forest fires in West Yellowstone, and was the first female wilderness ranger based out of the West Yellowstone District.

Amber was the first woman to carve in the country of Bhutan for the Prime Minister. She’s created many large scale works that have earned her great recognition in the art community. And she even gave a Ted Talk about her work.

“I never wasted energy grumbling at, whining about or looking for prejudices. I just got to work, stayed curious, made lots of mistakes, and kept after it.” –Amber Jean

Shop Amber’s sculptures here.

8.) Circa CeramicsShop small this Small Business Saturday (and Cyber Monday) with these Women Owned Businesses / Crafted in CarharttNancy Witt and her husband Andy have been making their wares in the Chicago neighborhood of Ravenswood since 2001. Their signature style is iconic in the windy city, with their Chicago flag items constantly flying off the shelves.

Browse their online shop here. See behind the scenes into their studio here.

9.) Greta de Parry DesignShop small this Small Business Saturday (and Cyber Monday) with these Women Owned Businesses / Crafted in CarharttGreta is a classically trained woodworker and sculptor in the Chicago area. She’s been designing and making furniture since 2007. Her collection consists of clean lines and minimalist touches.

Shop Greta’s furniture here. Read more about her story here.

10.) The Little Flower Soap Co.Shop small this Small Business Saturday (and Cyber Monday) with these Women Owned Businesses / Crafted in CarharttMichigan florist, Holly Rutt, started making soaps as a hobby. Combining her love for nature and interest in healing plant extractions and essential oils, she and her husband created a line of body care products. After realizing how much steam her side gig was gaining, Holly decided to devote the majority of her time to The Little Flower Soap Co.

“The maker movement is in full swing there has never been a better time to start your own small business. If you think your life would be better as your own boss in a creative field than get started and stick with it.” —Holly Rutt

Shop Holly’s body care products here. Read more about Holly’s story here.

11.) The Elk Coffee ShopShop small this Small Business Saturday (and Cyber Monday) with these Women Owned Businesses / Crafted in CarharttThis charming coffee shop in the West Village of New York is owned by Claire Chan. Five years ago, she took over the space, renovated, and reopened with her grand vision in mind.

“I feel so proud of the all women-run businesses I see popping up, especially right now. At a time where women’s rights and female empowerment is more relevant than ever, it is important to express your ideas and exercise your values so that others will be encouraged to do the same. There’s strength in numbers, and it feels amazing to surround yourself with like-minded and strong women!” -Claire Chan

If you’re in NYC, you can order The Elk’s offerings straight to your door here. Read more about The Elk here.

12.) Amaltheia Dairy FarmShop small this Small Business Saturday (and Cyber Monday) with these Women Owned Businesses / Crafted in CarharttAmaltheia Dairy Farm in Montana is a family run operation.

“We have had our farm for over 20 years. We love the Bozeman area and our goats get to enjoy beautiful scenery and seasons we have here. It’s beautiful every day. The best thing about what we do is to provide nutritious, delicious organic goat cheeses, pork, and vegetables to people. Those people appreciate being able to get great food and are thankful. It is a symbiotic relationship.

We have been making cheese for 17 years, certified organic for 12 years. We are sustainable farmers and try to utilize all of our resources and byproducts responsibly. We use the whey from the cheese to feed organic hogs and compost and use all of our manure for fields and gardens.” -Co Owner, Sue Brown

Ship some some of the famous Amaltheia Dairy Farm goat cheese straight to your front door here. Read more about the family here.

13.) Pewabic PotteryShop small this Small Business Saturday (and Cyber Monday) with these Women Owned Businesses / Crafted in CarharttPewabic Pottery in Detroit was founded in 1903 by Mary Chase Perry Stratton. Her ceramics were nationally renowned, landing her a spot in the Michigan’s Women Hall of Fame. Mary went on to win several awards and established the ceramics department at the University of Michigan. The touch she had on Michigan and the arts and crafts community will always be remembered. The shop is still operating to this day and is now a National Historic Landmark.

Shop some of their trademark Pewabic blue pieces here.

14.) Live Edge DetroitShop small this Small Business Saturday (and Cyber Monday) with these Women Owned Businesses / Crafted in CarharttIn 2016, Jenny, her brother Joe, and her dad Mike founded Live Edge. They now salvage the trees that Mike’s company removes. Once the wood has been cut and taken back to their warehouse, the crew mills them into new usable material.

“Our vision for Live Edge Detroit was to develop a branch of Mike’s Tree Surgeons, Inc. that focused on salvaging our local resources and making them available for the community to enjoy for many more years to come. Our long term goals are to uphold that initial vision and to see it bloom into a more sustainable and profitable branch of the family business. We aren’t planning to take over the world, but we want to make a difference within the community, and we feel that starts right here in our own backyard.” -Jenny Barger

Shop Live Edge’s offerings here. Read more about the family business here.

15.) Five Marys FarmsShop small this Small Business Saturday (and Cyber Monday) with these Women Owned Businesses / Crafted in CarharttA few years ago, Mary and her husband Brian were high-powered Silicon Valley lawyers/entrepreneurs who traded it all away to live the Carhartt way of life. Armed with a strong work ethic and the fearlessness to ask lots of questions, the couple and their four daughters who all share the first name of Mary – but who go by their middle name to keep things “simple” – have proudly become a fully-functioning ranch that sells its meats all over the country.

“I am so proud of the life we get to give our girls living and working together on the ranch,” Mary beams when talking about being the mother of four young farm girls. “I don’t think I gave my girls enough credit before we moved here,” she continues, “I made their lunches and filled their water bottles and did all of their laundry, not really expecting them to do too much. By necessity, when we moved to the ranch the girls had to step up to the plate and start helping more, and they are so much more capable because of it.”

Shop Five Mary’s here. Read more about this amazing family here.

Support Women Owned Businesses this Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday / Crafted in Carhartt