AURA - Why did you create an all-female work environment?
HN - I had always known that I wanted to open my own shop, but knew that in order for it to stand out from the countless other auto body shops out there is had to be different. At the same time, I was meeting more and more women who were getting into this trade or looking to get into it, and hearing their stories of discrimination and struggles. That’s when the idea of opening a shop that was completely women-owned and operated came to life!
AURA - Share with me something about yourself that you're working on improving, and how you think it will be better/more productive/run more smoothly once you've accomplished your goal.
HN - One thing I’m definitely working on is becoming a better ‘business’ person. I have been a technician for the past 17 years, so making the transition to being a business owner has definitely been a learning curve for me! One thing I’m really focusing on is systemizing my business, we are creating job sheets and checklists for everything! I think this will help us be way more efficient and will allow us to create a process that could then be duplicated in another location(s).
AURA - What did your parents do, how did they influence you, and what lessons have you held onto?
HN - My dad is a retired police officer, and my mom is an Educational Assistant who works with special needs children. My parents raised my sister and I with the belief that if you want something you have to work for it. From a young age we worked hard at our house chores to get a $10/week allowance to save up for the toys we really wanted. From the age of 12 I have always had some sort of job. They are both extremely supportive of my career path, and never once questioned why I wanted to do this. Since opening my business they have been my biggest cheerleaders and supporters, and are always there to help. I love them both so much!
AURA - Describe your biggest obstacles in life and how you’ve mastered them.
HN - I think for me the biggest obstacle was just finally deciding to go for it and open my shop, I was living paycheck to paycheck at the time and didn’t have any money saved so I decided to use the crowdfunding platform Indiegogo to try and raise the funds. It was definitely hard to put myself, and my idea, out there so publicly not knowing how it would be received. It was a huge step outside of my comfort zone!
Learning not to let other’s negative opinions of me and my shop bother me was really hard at first as well, but I have learned to not take in personally and to focus on the positives only. If anything it just makes me work harder.
AURA - What were your biggest epiphanies: the moments of life-defining change that shaped you into the person you are today.
HN - I don’t think it’s been one particular moment, but rather a series of so many. Every day is a new challenge for me, filled with learning opportunities. I would say just meeting and hearing from other women in this industry, hearing the feedback on my shop, has made me even more committed to paving the way for women in this industry. I want that to be my legacy when I leave this world.
AURA - What is your life philosophy and how did you develop it?
HN - Positive vibes only! Having the belief that you can do ANYTHING you set your mind to, with the right attitude. We live in a society that gets so caught up in complaining about problems that don’t really matter (I got stuck in traffic, my coffee order was wrong, etc.). I once read that happiness is a mindset, not a feeling and those words have stuck with me. I can always find something to be happy about, to be grateful for, and I believe if you focus solely on those, more good things will come your way.
AURA - What is your vision for the future for you personally and professionally? Maybe add some thoughts on where you hope the world will go.
HN - My vision for myself personally is to continue to develop my skills both as a technician and a business owner. I want to be known for building badass cars, and I want to be able to mentor young women (and men too) looking to get into this trade.
Professionally I want to be able to open more locations all over the world! I love being able to give women the skills and confidence they need to go out into this industry with no fear, knowing that they can do just as good a job.
I hope that we will get to a place where it’s not unusual to see women working in a shop, or in any trade. A world where jobs are not gender-specific would be ideal.
AURA - What is the strength of your business?
HN - I think the obvious strength of my business is its uniqueness. We are doing something that has never been done before and breaking down stereotypes.
The feedback that I get from customers as to what sets us apart is our passion for this job. I genuinely love what I do, I wake up every day excited to go to work. I probably get almost as excited as the customer about building their dream car. We put our hearts and souls into every car we do.