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 Operating Engineers 324

Operating Engineers 324, based out of Howell, Michigan, has been serving its union members for over 100 years. They now boast 14,000 members as they help build Michigan’s future. We had a unique opportunity to meet with some of the sisterhood. Join us as we introduce you to some of OE 324’s best.

Operating Engineers / Crafted in Carhartt
Ashley English, Elizabeth Kavanagh, and Ashley Cole

“The training center is an awesome facility and the instructors are amazing. An obstacle I faced in the beginning of my apprenticeship was that I was nervous to operate equipment in front of people. I thought I was going to get made fun of or people would judge me. But I got support from all of the instructors and other apprentices. Everyone has always been very helpful and supportive.

My mom and dad are both in the trades, so it has always been a part of my life. My mom is in the UAW but she is also an operator for Ford Motor Company and my dad is a lineman in the IBEW Local 17. I went to college for a year and was not interested in going back, so I started looking into different trades.

I got into the Operating Engineers when I was 20, so this is my first career. I think the best part of my job is that I love what I do. I love meeting new people. I also enjoy being able to work outside all day.

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.” -Elizabeth Kavanagh

Operating Engineers / Crafted in Carhartt
Ashley English

“I love the amazing view of the world in the mornings, the chatter between my coworkers, but above all–the FREEDOM of the culture within the field. There are no hair restrictions, not many handbooks, and we take care of each other whether we want to or not.” -La’Tasha Smith (pictured below)

Operating Engineers / Crafted in Carhartt
Ashley Cole and La’Tahsa Smith

Crane Operator Apprentice, Jessica Knight (pictured below), has been a part of Local 324 for 3 years. Before that, she served in Heavy Equipment Construction through the Army Reserves for 18 years.

“I love the fact that I walked into both the Army and the Union with an open mind and wide eyes. I feel like I have a better chance at my own personal success. Being a woman, you have to have thick skin. If you can dish it, be ready to take it. And be open minded.

I’m helping rebuild Michigan. And showing women we got what it takes. Sometimes, you get guys who think you’re a princess. They might stare if you’re curvy, and talk about you behind your back. And you know what? I’m fine with that. Keep talking, because I’m doing my job right, so that you can run your mouth.” -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.” -Jessica Knight

Operating Engineers / Crafted in Carhartt
Jessica Knight, climbing to position in a crane

“I am an Oiler. I learn to maintain the crane I am assigned to. I do my best to keep the cranes clear of debris, fluids topped off, and constant overview of the crane while in operation so that the Primary Operator can do their job…

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 Engineers / Crafted in CarharttChristi Smtih (pictured above) has over 21 years of experience as an Operating Engineer. She was in construction before joining the trades and wishes she had joined right after graduating from high school. Her goal is to work 35 years and retire at a young age. Before she does that, she plans on working as hard as she can, to the very last.

Christi loves her job for many reasons. But at the end of the day, she loves getting paid to play in the dirt. Even though she’s certified to operate many different pieces of equipment, like the overhead crane, she has a few favorite machines: the side boom, forklift, and skid loader. Those are the machines that are always moving.

“I’m not a one piece of equipment kind of gal. I like being more versatile. It makes you more employable.” -Christi Smith

Over the coarse of her career, she’s seen many changes. More and more women are joining the trades and more and more folks are accepting that. She notes that the worksite has become a safer place as well—putting the common good over a quick build.

Christi is certain that the best move she ever made in her life was joining OE 324. She couldn’t be more proud to be part of a union.

“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 Engineers / Crafted in Carhartt

After graduating from her apprenticeship, La’Tasha Smith (pictured above) will be a Journeyman Civil Engineer. She is currently a second year apprentice with no previous experience in the field.

“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.

I stayed connected to other women in the trade at my company. I asked as many questions as I needed to…

Do the legwork. Educate yourself as much as possible and stay teachable.” -La’Tasha Smith

Operating Engineers / Crafted in CarharttAshley O’Grady (pictured below) works under the Road Builders Contract, which covers heavy highways, bridges, and airport work. Currently, she’s on a concrete paving crew. She has 4 years of experience.

“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 Engineers / Crafted in CarharttAshley was interested in the trades because she knew she could be successful and make good wages without going to college. If she had known how much she’d love the work, she would have joined even sooner. The long hours have been the most trying part of the job, but the sense of brother/sisterhood, along with great health care, benefits, and a pension make it all worth it.

“I feel like construction workers have a bad stigma sometimes. I wish people actually knew how serious skilled trades are and how successful you can be.” 
-Ashley O’Grady

Ashley hopes to expand her skill set, continuing to learn different equipment. There are endless opportunities and paths you can take as an operator. She wants to be as versatile and experienced as she possibly can.

Operating Engineers / Crafted in Carhartt
Danielle Athey

Danielle Athey’s interest in the trades soared when she discovered she could travel through work and start her career while training, all without taking out loans for school. She currently works on the pipeline and has one more year left of her apprenticeship. Danielle’s been busy, particularly this past winter, taking class after class, making sure she is as educated as she can be.

“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 Engineers / Crafted in Carhartt
Elizabeth Kavanagh

“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 Engineers / Crafted in CarharttOperating Engineers / Crafted in CarharttTo find out more about joining Operating Engineers 324, click here.
To shop  favorite Carhartt gear, now available in hardworking new sizes from XS to 3X, click here.

Women in Trades

A few months ago, I had the pleasure of meeting with a few of the outstanding Women in Trades in the Seattle area. It was exciting and uplifting. Booths were set up all around Seattle Center, the Space Needle hovering in the background–speaking to the feats that can be accomplished by the hard working folks who make up construction teams.

Over 80 exhibitors are there to speak to curious children and work-ready women hoping to find a career match. I have truly never seen such a sense of community and encouragement. Women who have put so much at stake to pursue a career off the beaten path are there to embolden anyone who’s been considering that new job with a living wage. They are there to introduce the idea to a younger generation that women can do anything–and they will have a built-in family with camaraderie on the job that few other professions can boast.

For most, working in the trades is highly rewarding way to achieve financial independence and boost self-confidence. Working with your hands to build something tangible and substantial is empowering. That doesn’t mean there still aren’t disadvantages women meet on a day to day basis. Females make up a small percentage of the construction force, but as that number grows, the more their basic needs will be met. There is power in numbers and there is power in women finding the job that suits their skills and personalities.

Women in Trades / Crafted in Carhartt

Cynthia has been in the trades for over 20 years. To her, it meant financial independence for her and her 4 children. Her work has been the tool she needed provide well for her family in the present and pave a way for their futures. She now is the matriarch to 11 grandchildren, who will grow up knowing that their grandmother is strong and capable.

“Don’t be afraid to step out of the box.”
-Cynthia Garrett (pictured above)

Women in Trades / Crafted in CarharttWelcome to the Sisterhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, and Blacksmiths. These four are tightly knit, extremely supportive, and hope you’ll consider joining the trades. From their perspective, it’s imperative that you know how accomplished you can be with the right training.

“Follow your interests–do it today.”
-Kate Starling (second to left)

“You can do anything you want to. You are smart enough, tough enough, and you will look good doing it!!”
-Jennifer Matuika (far right)

“If you want to do it, do it!”
-Caitlin Batson (left)

“Do it even though no one else thinks you can. Always believe in yourself; only you can stop yourself from doing the impossible.”
-Kayla Santiago (right)

Women in Trades / Crafted in CarharttWomen in Trades / Crafted in CarharttKat Taylor was born into a legacy of strength. Her mom is also an Ironworker–in fact, she worked on the Space Needle (seen behind Kat in the picture above).

“You have to be confident in yourself and what you want because that’s what will get you through. Work harder than them if not more.”
-Ironworker Kat Taylor, Local 86

Women in Trades / Crafted in CarharttMeet a few of the fierce firefighters and EMTs of Tacoma, Washington. They are also a big part of Camp Blaze, a fire service camp where young women experience the firefighter life firsthand.

“Network. Look to other women to mentor you. Odds are, they’ve been down that path.”
-Erin Richardson

“Seek out opportunities. Don’t wait for them to seek you out.”
-Marja Stowell

Women in Trades / Crafted in Carhartt

Are you a woman in the trades? We’d love to hear your words of wisdom. Feel free to comment below.

Builder Amber Williams

Meet Amber Williams, Timber Production Manager aka “Lead Lawg Dawg” at On Site Management in Bozeman, Montana.

“In 1997, I got a job after school working in a local cabinet shop. They made doors, cabinets and furniture that ended up in OSM homes a majority of the time. It was there that I learned traditional woodworking skills from journeyman cabinetmakers. Three years later I was unhappy with the limitations of cabinetry, I wanted something more. I had a solid base of knowledge giving me the confidence to transition from fine woodworking to heavy construction. I started my own business building furniture and cabinets as well as working for OSM as a subcontractor. After doing this for a year I applied to work for OSM full time as an employee. The atmosphere and ability to build the best homes in the area is something I am still proud of.” -Builder Amber Williams

Amber Williams, Carpenter and Timber Production Manager at OSM in Bozeman, Montana / Crafted in CarharttAmber Williams, Carpenter and Timber Production Manager at OSM in Bozeman, Montana / Crafted in Carhartt

Amber Williams, Carpenter and Timber Production Manager at OSM in Bozeman, Montana / Crafted in Carhartt

“Being a builder is the only way I can make a living and be an artist at the same time. We build amazing works of functional art in remote locations that people can live in. This is the best of both worlds, the building experience of working in areas that most people will never see is unlike any other, and knowing that your work will withstand the test of time and be appreciated by generations. When building log assemblies, you don’t have the ability to work with traditional elements of level and square. It’s up to each team member to see the twisted log and find a way to make it plumb or level and fit within the job. Our end goal is to make each piece appear as though it grew together. Working with your hands allows each person at the end of each day to stand back and say, ‘I built that!'” -Builder Amber Williams

Amber Williams, Carpenter and Timber Production Manager at OSM in Bozeman, Montana / Crafted in Carhartt

Amber Williams, Carpenter and Timber Production Manager at OSM in Bozeman, Montana / Crafted in Carhartt

Amber Williams, Carpenter and Timber Production Manager at OSM in Bozeman, Montana / Crafted in CarharttAmber Williams, Carpenter and Timber Production Manager at OSM in Bozeman, Montana / Crafted in CarharttAmber Williams, Carpenter and Timber Production Manager at OSM in Bozeman, Montana / Crafted in Carhartt

Amber’s advice for anyone looking to get into the building industry:

“Be true to yourself, listen to your gut, and always do your best. You will never please those around you so don’t waste your energy. Remember to be kind to yourself, the world is hard enough as it is, don’t add to the insecurities/negativity already thrust upon you. Allow your work to speak for you.”

Carpenter Apprentice Traci Longenbarger

“I am a 4th year carpenter apprentice.

My father had a huge part in getting me into carpentry. Since I was little, I always loved helping him with fixing things around the house. Now that I’m an adult, I want to know more and do it all.

My advise for other women would be work hard, have thick skin, always be willing to learn, and know that you don’t have to be the strongest person out here to get the job done. It’s not about brute strength but knowledge strength and thinking outside the box.

Women can do this work and we can do it well. This line of work isn’t for everyone, but for the people that want to get into it it’s great.

My favorite part of my job is that I’m building America one building at a time. To see a building start out as dirt and end up being a beautiful building at the end, and knowing I had a part in that gives me a feeling of completion. To be able to drive by a building with my family and friends and say I had a hand in building that gives me a great sense of pride.” —Traci Longenbarger

Carpenter Traci Longenbarger / Crafted in CarharttCarpenter Traci Longenbarger / Crafted in CarharttCarpenter Traci Longenbarger / Crafted in CarharttCarpenter Traci Longenbarger / Crafted in CarharttCarpenter Traci Longenbarger / Crafted in CarharttCarpenter Traci Longenbarger / Crafted in CarharttCarpenter Traci Longenbarger / Crafted in CarharttCarpenter Traci Longenbarger / Crafted in Carhartt

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Before You Renovate, Take a Word of Advice From The Building Hugger

Home Renovation Advice / Crafted in CarharttHome Renovation Advice / Crafted in CarharttHome Renovation Advice / Crafted in CarharttHome Renovation Advice / Crafted in CarharttHome Renovation Advice / Crafted in CarharttHome Renovation Advice / Crafted in CarharttHome Renovation Advice / Crafted in CarharttHome Renovation Advice / Crafted in Carhartt

Amy Nicole Swift, Detroit’s Building Hugger, and master renovator, has a few tips for you before you start planning your home renovation.

1. Develop a list of priorities and a realistic timeline for working through those items, even if that means planning 5 years out. It’s important to remain flexible. Renovations are always full of unknowns, no matter how well you might plan. Sometimes you have to compromise part of your vision to make a project work, but that can open up other creative opportunities. It’s all in your attitude: challenges can either be problems or they can be opportunities. Having a clear set of researched objectives can help guide you through the hiccups.

2. ​When you’re renovating an older home nothing will end up perfect. Don’t lose sight of why you probably fell in love with your old home in the first place: there’s an intrinsic beauty ​in its imperfections. If you expect straight floors, perfectly plumb doors, and flawless finishes then an old home might not be for you. Your home renovation will also never be really be “done” as there will always be another project down the pipeline — coming to terms with this will save you some anxiety.

3. ​Don’t take too much on yourself without starting a project without a solid plan.​ ​I work with a lot of homeowners that try to cut out the project management costs of hiring a general contractor and/or architect to save money, but that often costs them money or time or both in the long run. I suggest working with a building professional that is open to helping you save money by accommodating DIY projects in their scheduling​, as well as coaching you through some of those projects. It’s an approach I started to take in my business because that’s what Detroiters seem to want.

4. It’s important that you find building professionals in your area that are familiar with the era and construction method in which your house was constructed. You want to hire someone that can anticipate the inevitable challenges that come with working in an older home because they will already have an action plan in mind based on their previous experiences. What is the contractor’s pricing structure? Do they make money on a markup if they sell you on new windows or flooring as opposed to refinishing? Because of course they’re going to tell you the windows or flooring can’t be saved. Don’t work with anyone that’s pushy or doesn’t listen to what you want. Make sure your contractor aligns with your philosophy for restoration and shares your vision because you will be relying on them to guide you through every decision you make.

Amy works on restoring windows often, as she and Jennifer are pictured above. Another tip to keep in mind is:

5. New window companies have been very successful at convincing the public that replacement windows are significantly more energy efficient than historic windows. But that’s simply not true. ​A well maintained historic window with a storm panel is at least as efficient as a new window, and if properly maintained with paint and routine care, will last another hundred years or more. The ROI of investing in your historic windows is actually better because of their repairability. Unfortunately, as a dying trade​, ​window restoration has become a somewhat pricey boutique craft in recent years, but I’m hoping to shift that perception with a new approach to the services we offer.

Amy is wearing the Carhartt Force Performance Tank (color available next spring), Driving Glove, & Series 1889 Slim Double Front Dungaree. Jennifer is wearing the Carhartt Force Performance T-Shirt, Driving Glove, & Relaxed-Fit Sandstone Kane Dungaree.

The Right Accessories

All the blogs and fashion magazines tell you that you need the right accessories. On Crafted in Carhartt, we’ll tell you the same thing—but for much different reasons. Forget color blocking or following passing trends, these accessories are made to match your job. Amy Nicole Swift, The Building Hugger shows us how. The Right Accessories / Crafted in Carhartt
Let’s talk gloves.
Keep those hands safe and cover them in quality. That way you can be that much better at your job. These Driving Gloves are constructed of leather and cotton with a reinforced thumb and palm. Take a look at all the women’s gloves. Which ones match your daily routine?The Right Accessories / Crafted in Carhartt
Let’s talk boots.
And no, we’re not talking about knee highs or heels. We’re talking serious shoes for bad ass women who do dangerous, dirty jobs. These killer boots are oil, chemical, abrasion, heat and slip resistant. Their cement construction with Carhartt rubber Rugged Flex provide an insane amount of safety. The rubber heel bumper gives you added protection. With the ASTM 2413-EH rating, The Rugged Flex Work Boot is approved by the American Society for Testing and Materials. The Right Accessories / Crafted in Carhartt
Let’s talk shorts.
These Crawford Canvas Work Short are constructed from 9-ounce, 97% cotton and 3% spandex canvas with Rugged Flex Technology that allows you to move with ease. They are outfitted with a utility loop, tons of pockets, and sit just below the waist. The 11 inch inseam gives you just the right amount of coverage when you’re on the job.
The Right Accessories / Crafted in CarharttLet’s talk tops.
Everyone loves a great Tee, and The Carhartt Force Performance T-Shirt is just that. How many shirts are sweat wicking, stain repellent, and odor fighting? (This style is available next spring, but check out the current styles here.) This is the kind of shirt you can wear every day and not get sick of it. It works just as hard as you do.The Right Accessories / Crafted in Carhartt
Let’s talk bags.
Carhartt tool bags are the best. This particular open tote will be available next spring. Take a look at what else Carhartt has to offer. They are all sturdy, covered in pockets, and ideal for the work site. Men and women alike will be jealous. The Right Accessories / Crafted in Carhartt
Let’s talk glasses.
These Billings Safety Glasses offer great coverage and protection with anti-fog lenses. They meet ANSI Z87.1 high impact requirements and are CAN/CSA Z94.3.07 rated. The lightweight design makes them comfortable to wear. Plus they are available at a great price! The Right Accessories / Crafted in Carhartt

Stewards of an Architectural Past

The Building Hugger / Crafted in CarharttThe Building Hugger / Crafted in CarharttThe Building Hugger / Crafted in CarharttThe Building Hugger / Crafted in CarharttThe Building Hugger / Crafted in CarharttThe Building Hugger / Crafted in CarharttThe Building Hugger / Crafted in CarharttThe Building Hugger / Crafted in CarharttThe Building Hugger / Crafted in Carhartt
You may remember Amy Nicole Swift, founder of Building Hugger in Detroit. She’s a talented builder, bad-ass, and restorer of old. The Motor City is littered with gorgeous architecture from decades past. As folks move into the magnificent homes that need some extra TLC, they look for a pro like Amy to help them maintain the building’s integrity and history. 


Why is it so important to keep things accurate in restoration construction? I’ll let Amy tell you.

“Buildings are an archive of our collective history, so there is an intrinsic value ​in the historic materials that comprise them. Everything tells a story. When original components of a building are removed we lose that connection to the past. Moreover, the material quality and craftsmanship of historic components like windows are absolutely irreplaceable. That’s why I’ve been working hard to develop a business model that can make repair and restoration of old windows a more accessible option.
It is important when we envision the futures of existing buildings that we consider the page we will write with our work. ​I love that the work we do helps to preserve these buildings for years to come, and that tradespeople in the future will look after our work as we look after the work of the tradespeople that came before us. It’s very fulfilling to see my work as part of a compendium of architectural stewardship — like the great master builders of the past.” -Amy Nicole Swift

In the photos above, Amy and Jennifer are removing the windows from a gorgeous Detroit mansion so they can restore them back at their work space. So much heavy lifting and immaculate detail work goes into this process. Stay tuned in the days to come and see a bit more of these women on a mission.

The clothes shown above will be available in Spring 2016. Check out what you can get your hands on now here.

Abigail Murray of Afterhouse

Keeping it Green in the Winter / Crafted in Carhartt
Keeping it Green in the Winter / Crafted in Carhartt
Keeping it Green in the Winter / Crafted in Carhartt
Keeping it Green in the Winter / Crafted in Carhartt
Keeping it Green in the Winter / Crafted in Carhartt
Keeping it Green in the Winter / Crafted in Carhartt
Keeping it Green in the Winter / Crafted in Carhartt
Keeping it Green in the Winter / Crafted in Carhartt
Keeping it Green in the Winter / Crafted in Carhartt
It’s no secret that many houses scattered across the city of Detroit lie in ruin from disuse, vandalism, and fire. Abigail Murray and the folks down at Afterhouse think those lots have a higher calling than eternally falling to pieces.

A few years ago a fire ravaged 3347 Burnside, transforming what was once a home into a pile of smoldering bricks. Rather than leaving the land fallow, the Afterhouse crew finished the demolition and rebuilt a greenhouse in the old foundation. The heat of the earth inside the under-structure of an old house dramatically expands the growing potential of the lot without the use of any additional energy. It also allows for growth in the dead of winter.

Amidst the rubble, artists, construction workers, contractors, and members of the community have banded together to let their greenhouse phoenix rise from the ashes.

Abigail’s workwear: Carhartt Women’s Signature LS T-Shirt, Amoret Vest, Jasper Jean, & Ravenden Sweater