Creating a Safe Space for Women to Remodel
This is the Simply Home Podcast - Ladies Who Build, a podcast for women by women.
This is Ashley Wainscott and Michelle Mullins.
After spending the last 10 years revolutionizing the construction industry and raising the bar of the contracting world.
We are inviting you on our journey as we continuously learn how to be extraordinary and thrive in this industry.
Now, come hang with us.
Welcome to episode 12 of Ladies Who Build. Today, we are talking about creating a safe space for women to remodel. And all of the things that we have built over time to keep women in mind. And we're so excited to share.
So some of the things we'll be talking about today are the different areas of life in which women in general don't feel as comfortable or feel is knowledgeable or feel as safe. And so we'll be doing some comparisons in general and life, when that feeling comes about for us. And then how we built our processes, keeping women in mind to ensure that that doesn't happen.
We're going to be talking about conscious building for women. We're going to be talking about why women gravitate towards a process like ours. We're gonna be talking about how we hire women. And how that has a big impact on working with women clients. And we're going to be talking about women in decision-making and what that process looks like with us.
You just said so many good things. I’m excited to dive in.
Okay. So one of the things you touched on, just kind of from the beginning, was women gravitating towards us because of the process we’ve built from the beginning. And so I would say like the company as a whole has been through so many changes. All good, right? But that's kind of been the most consistent is that's never wavered is that we really want to keep women in mind in the home.
And every process we've built around that has just expanded our opportunities to do that and to do it really well. And we've said in previous episodes, like every project is such a learning lesson. So we get feed, we take feedback really seriously from clients. And so if there's something that didn't work for like, oh my gosh, we're going to doc that and make sure that we do that differently in the future.
So anyway, we just kind of compounded this over the years. But, I will say this is a statistic only that we have created because we've seen it in real life. But majority of our projects like, what would you say? Even 80, 90% of them, the women make the decisions and the remodel. And obviously that this is like a joint, like a remodel is a big decision and both partners are making decisions in it and throughout it. But what we have definitely noticed is that women make, they almost have the final say of a decision in a remodel.
And so, it's really interesting for us to tune into that because we realized they might have a voice, like maybe the husband goes back and talks to her. Afterwards, or maybe she's the voice of the project. Like either way, we've really taken that into account because we want to make sure that they feel safe and heard in those decisions. And we don't want them to feel backed into a corner with those decisions.
So we really want to bring them women into the forefront to say like, that's great, but how do you feel throughout this? And are you feeling heard throughout this process?
Yeah, I think for a long time women weren't at the forefront of making those decisions. And I'm sure we could see that in different TV shows when it goes back to the 60's, 70’s. You know, you're watching mad men or, you know, a different decade and you're thinking women are just the stay-at-home mom. They're the stay-at-home wife. And they're not making any of those big decisions, right?
And they may be talking to their husband about it in the background, but as we have evolved and as women's right to have been more of a focus. Thank goodness for all the women who have paved the way for us. And fought those battles for us because we are certainly, Michelle and I have dedicated our last 10 years to paving a way for women in the industry to have a voice to be a part of this industry. And that goes for our clients as well.
We want them to feel like this is a safe and comfortable process where they know they can come and remodel. And everything will be okay.
And they're not taking advantage of because they're women. And I, we should stop and say that Michelle and I both identify as women, we created this business for and about women, but this extends to anyone that identifies as a woman or that feels that they would be taken advantage of in this process, Anyone that may have more of the womanly role in their relationship. It doesn't matter necessarily if you are a quote unquote woman, but when we are talking about women, not to we're talking about people that don't feel safe and comfortable in this process because historically women haven't been in the construction industry, right?
And so as we create space for women in this role, which means a lot of education. When you're working for Simply Home, it means a lot of education when you're remodeling as well. It's just a lot of education. And I think that's been the main difference is that we've built systems and processes. No matter if you're working for us or you're working with us, you're understanding what goes into the construction process. Because otherwise you wouldn't know.
Yeah, I think that's a good point you bring up because there are many times where I've spoken with men too. I mean, we're not this isn't just for women, but like men have given really good feedback of I'm so glad, you know, you guys really here and listen to my concerns and I can just know that I trust y'all. And so I think that that's a good point as well.
I think one of the things and kind of one of our topics is we make a really really transparent process in the sense that we want to make sure you understand what you're getting, right? So in the beginning, whether it's talking with a salesperson or whether it's talking with project managers, yes, there's terminology and things that are in the construction world that we just know over time.
But if you were to ask or if you care to know, like we want to educate you and we want to make sure that you understand what's happening. And so maybe if you don't understand the language, or if you don't understand a process, we ask that you speak up because we don't ever want to be, you know, I think you said it earlier as if we don't want to be an auto body shop or where you're going to dealership and you feel that they're just throwing all this language at you.
But you almost feel scared to like ask them, “Can you clarify?” Because then you're like, “I don't want to be dumb and should I know this?”
And you also don't want to show them all your cards where…
Maybe you don't know. And then you think they're going to take advantage of you.
Because you don't know.
You don't know. And then you just showed them that you don't know, right?
And then if you do feel silly when you're at the auto body shop and they're telling you this and that. And you're wondering, “Is that something that's actually needed? Are they charging me the correct price?”
Yeah. And like we would never know. I've just, I just take it at face value.
No. Also side note before we're totally gonna snowball but I just took my car on this morning, which is why Michelle and I were talking about this and I've had like the longest morning of just trying to get new tires. I just needed new tires and it was the longest morning trying to figure out what tires were good enough. Were they the right size? Did they have them in stock? And there was just so much tire information, but I was saying, why don't they have classes in like high school?
Because it's inevitable that you're going to be in a car at some point in your life where you're learning this. Why do I have to learn physics or chemistry?
Over car ownership.
Or like how to change a tire.
I’d be stranded.
You need to get me out there.
I need a choice. I could go on a whole rant.
Catch me under a car and you don't think, I mean, I don't think so because I don't know the first thing about it, but I would love to flex on any person or man and be like, yeah, I know how to change a tire.
Or like jumpstart a car.
But I felt so bad I had to Google it. I was like, this is not right. I'd have to Google this.
I know. But when, who is supposed to teach you? No. Nope.
No. That’s all I'll have to say. No.
I mean, it's certainly not going to be my husband. I mean, no offense to him but we have had to learn at the same time.
Same. I'm pretty sure Zach was looking over my shoulder at the Google that I just searched. So shout out Zach. Love you.
YouTube is really great, but anyways, Yeah, that's kind of where we snowballed, right? But where you’re probably also Googling when you're going through construction thinking Michelle and Ashley and her team just said, Blah, blah blah. And I have no idea what that means, but I nodded my head, like I knew.
Because it's honest, like ingrained. And I don't know if it's just like women or just people in general, but it's almost ingrained to kind of do that and to go along. There are so many parts of the process because especially too, like our team is very women-heavy that we kind of like take a step back and did you understand that? And you have questions? And we don't ask that, you know, every, like, even if you okay, sleep on it. Come back to us. Maybe we touch base next week. Like you know, we really want to make sure you understand what you're actually getting. And not that you need to know like what the framing terminology is, but just to understand like, what you're paying for is what you're getting at a fair price.
I think that is absolutely one thing because we have a lump sum contract, which we talked about that in another episode, if you're curious about what it is and how it breaks down. But because we're a lump sum contract, I know that for what our word is worth. And I know it's, it's a lot because we want our word to mean everything in this industry is that, that is like one thing is we do not for the life of us, like do not inflate prices or cheat people out of money. We are so careful with every single dollar that a client gives us.
So we have a whole system in place to, to be like so, so, so careful with every dollar, So anyways, that's just like a rant. But I think as women, we really, because we want to protect our reputation, that we're going to do everything in our power to not ruin that. Because it's so easy to ruin a reputation in construction and it's just not going to be asked, so.
Oh yeah. Yeah. I was just reading about a home builder that shutting down for whatever issues. I don't know if they were integritous issues, but I heard the FBI was involved in all sorts of things.
Right. And I'm so thankful that we don't ever have to go down a questionable integritous route because we can sleep at night. We know we’re treating our clients very well. We know we're following our values and what we promise because I. I started to use... I mean, I already can't sleep at night sometimes.
Because I already have so much stuff on my mind, but it's like, did I pack the lunch of my child? Or like, is he going to nap well tomorrow? You know what I mean? There's enough that you're thinking about and this really shouldn't be one of my…
Integrity of my business should not be one.
No. Then you should probably not be doing what…
It sounds like you need a life. It sounds like you need other things. If that's what you’re really treating people out of.
But yes. Circling back, Michelle and I didn't want our business to be the stereotypical business where our integrity was questioned and our values are questioned. Because we've built systems and processes that feel really good. And because women come to us and they experience a remodel that feels good. And they have a space where they can ask questions. They have a space where they can feel heard and seen and where things are transparent and communicated. You know, you know, a woman loves her communication. Love in all caps, 76 inch font. Love's communication.
So with a lot of our men too, which I appreciate.
Yeah. They do because our, I mean, our system is built.
For people who love communication. If you don't want us to communicate with you, you've hired the wrong contractor cause we would annoy the crap outta you.
Yeah. You know, we like to communicate, so you better communicate.
But to your point on that, so it's funny one of the topics we were talking about is being conscientious of how we're building things. So this is kind of like a twofold, but sometimes we'll walk through clients' houses and we've heard them say, like, I can tell a man built that because they didn't consider X, Y, Z, which is so funny to me because it's like, really sexist to say, but also true. Cause then you're like, yeah, you would just wouldn't have done that. But what is some other feedback I've heard a lot too, is that if clients were like interviewing different contractors, the recent, one of the reasons they went with us is because we say yes, and we say like, yes and here's how to do it.
So we don't want people to feel that they have a limiting belief of what's possible in their home, because we always say anything's possible with time and money. But we also want you to know that like what your vision is important and it can be created. And here's how to do that. And if you're willing to go down that path with cost and time, then let's explore it. So we're not going to come in and be like, I don't really think that's a good idea. Why would you do that? We would never say that unless someone asks, like, in your opinion, do you think this has good resell value? And then we'd give you our opinion? But if it's just something that you're really dying to do, and this has just been your dream, like absolutely let's make it happen, you know?
Right because your home is where you're supposed to feel comfortable. And I was just reading an article in prepping for this episode. We were, I was reading about remodeling tips for women and there's reading about, let's see, it said how your house makes you miserable by culture study. And I just thought it was so fascinating because if that's what makes you happy, having whatever that is. That weirdly painted wall or that strangely tiled wall that maybe someone else won't appreciate as much. And like, that's totally fine. That's why you're remodeling is to make your home your safe space. And, you know, as long as you're not getting crazy with some sort of tile from across the world and tiling the whole house and it's hideous. I mean, even then, I'm not going to say anything though.
No, we’re not gonna say no if that’s what you want to do.
I mean, that’s your house. We've never said no to what someone envisions. Unless again, you ask our opinion, but even then we're not designers. And I would say here's my personal opinion, which is obviously biased because I have a taste. And my taste is like, very, I care at, and our company summed up my style and it was hilarious. And I can't remember exactly how she put it, but it was like boho, mama, glam, colorful, blah, blah, blah.
Yeah. All those things were you.
Yes, it was something totally ridiculous that cracked me up. And I was like, oh, we need a personality test online that gives you the funniest names for your style, because sometimes you're not just transitional or modern or whatever.
I like a little bit of everything.
So I'm chaotic. It’s my description.
But not a hoarder.
No definitely not a hoarder.
I've seen your house. It is not hoarderish.
I don't like excess.
But it's very, your home is very, I feel like your title would be something around like…
Oh, okay. I love this. Mine was like, not finished period.
But if you had all the money in the world, it would be finished.
Oh, okay. Yes.
In a certain style.
A hundred percent. Yeah.
And Michelle has this really pretty in her kitchen. Jesus. Really pretty board with all these motivational sayings and all these things. And I walk in, I'm like, Ooh, I'm motivated already. Five seconds. Like, I mean, I'm here at Gandhi.
Well, I could go into that. It's really kind of like for Zach too, and like, let's be motivated,
Well, are you motivating him?
Well, us, together. So I'll be like, hey, what quote do you want to add today? And then like, that's cute. But let's have this one instead.
I did just listen to where I know we're snowballing to the Huber man podcast and he was talking about goal setting and how rewriting your goals every day is scientifically going to get you to your goal, rather than just looking at the goal every day. You need to gradually rewrite it every day. So that's a side note.
Oh my gosh. Amazing.
But anyway, so if your goal is to have your house be bright yellow because yellow makes you happy, then I say, rock on.
And let's do it. We're going to do it. We're going to support you no matter who you are. If you're however you identify.
We that's just, I think in general are value of how we think is we want to honor and respect people. We want to hear them. We want to listen to them. And our processes are really built out to make sure that happens. And we're not an old school contractor that's going to say, I really haven't seen it done that way in the past. This is the way that we do it. You know, we obviously have standards of practice, construction standards as far as spec books and manufacturer installation instructions. All those are very basic, but when it comes to historically how things are done versus doing it for you, we will get creative and we will figure it out.
Yeah. Honestly like the crazier, the better. Because it just makes for like a really fun project and it's just out of the norm. And then we get to take after photos and it's so beautiful. A week to share. Perfect.
Okay, but to your point, so we go back to like why we hire women and..
Women get women. And I will say like, okay, we have men in our team and they are fantastic men and the men we've had on our team in the past far fantastic men. I think what makes them so great to thrive in this industry, again, shout out to the men that work on our team because there's like, what 13 of us women. A couple of three men, right?
There were three. Wow. That's been a long time.
It really has been.
So, but shout out. We were shocked that we have three men on the team.
And it's not even Michelle and I don't go into the hiring process and we're only going to hire a woman, obviously that is not legal, but we go into the process super open to whoever the best candidate is. And majority more often than not it's women that present themselves that really aligned with our culture and what the job description, right? The people that want to learn, the people that want to excel, the people that are honest and transparent and who want to grow. There are so many reasons that women have always persevered through the lengthy process.
Yes. And because they really want to be women in this industry where it's a male dominated industry, I think that they are along for the vision that we have and that we've created. So they also want to be a part of something that's like, you know, more unique to the industry and, you know, being able to be a part of that and to change the way we, and you're really open to ideas and processes that other people have. And so they want to be a part of that collaboration where it's not just like, this is our way, are you game. It's like you can help build as we grow.
And so I think the men too, also can see the value in that and know that there is a need for that in the industry. And so they completely support and can listen and empathize. Empathy is huge, right? Like you have to have a lot of empathy in this industry and especially when we're promoting women.
But those men can really do that well. And so it's just really cool to see like a dynamic that they bring to, you know, our group.
Yeah. Obviously you want a diverse group of people with diverse backgrounds and everyone has different lived experiences. So everyone can bring that to the table, which is what we want.
But not all businesses have a space where that can happen and our employees that come from different work experiences will give Michelle and I feedback that, you know, they really do enjoy our leadership and the space that we give them to be who they are. And I think that that translates to. And it trickles down to our clients. The clients can feel when they're working with employees that are happy and that like where they work, right? I mean, we all know, we all know the person that you walk up to at the counter or who you're dealing with that you can tell, like, wow they're really going through something or they really don't like their job. And it's not a good experience.
So that's why we create. We talk about this and we create such an emphasis on this in our workplace because we want our women clients to also feel the joy that can come from remodeling. We know it's not all joyous. We don't smell on joyful. We will not put that out in the universe, but we are certainly trying to make it as enjoyable as it can be.
To your point, I was just gonna bounce off that is we, one of the notes that I've made, was like, we take care of ourselves and like, culture is so important for us. And mental health is so important to us because me and you have been on the opposite side of it. And then that was like super unhealthy. And it reared its ugly head. And then, so we know we don't want to go down that again. We don't want our employees to go down that again. So we make work-life balance super, super important. And then we try to call out people who are like tipping one or the other. And we're like, oh, you're, you're like that's too much work. Don't be working over time. That can always wait until Monday.
But when we have noticed that when we are healthy and taken care of, then we can show up for our clients in such a different way. Because when we were not taking care of ourselves, we show up to our clients in a drastically different way. Like, and it just, it wasn't their fault. It wasn't the contractor's fault. It was truly us and how we handled our stress and emotions.
And so we just don't want the same thing for the team. And so I think that because we create such importance around that, that we can show up joyous. We can show up ready to listen. We can show up patient because we want to be present to every client. And so, but that takes health. I mean, you gotta be healthy to get that.
And our clients want that. I mean, I'm, as a homeowner, want to work with somebody who creates an experience like that for me, and that I can laugh with and have good conversation with and rely on. And on top of that, our process was built so that, and it is ever evolving so that our clients’ wellness and health is at the forefront of the experience we provide. I think that's really important.
So whenever either topics is vendor onboarding, the safety, I think women, women in general, but a lot of people think about the safety of themselves. And the safety of their families and their home. And that is such an important aspect of all of this, right? There's, as you guys can tell, there's so many variables when it comes to a good remodeling experience. And our vendor onboarding process is such a big focus of ours and making sure that the home is safe and that the space we're providing for our clients does feel safe.
Yeah. I mean, there's another topic we're going to talk about when, you know, we don't take no for an answer. Like that's really fun. We can, we'll dive into that more later. But one of the things when we're on vendor onboarding is obviously, you know, the basics, right? Are they insured? Let's see past work, like you know, blah, blah, blah. But one of the other things is like, are they open to, are they like problem solvers? You know, we'll ask questions of like, okay, what happens when you've been in this situation? What was the outcome? What did you do? And so a lot of times our vendors, we even laugh about it now because it's like, no, that's not an option, but like our vendors will be like, “Oh, I can't make that happen. Sorry.” And so it's really funny, like we've had those calls and so either I'll call them or the project managers and we're like, we'll talk him through like, okay, I see that you think that this isn't possible. Why is that? What could be another way? What have we not thought about? What materials could we use? Like, so we kind of go through this process of questioning and I, I'm not kidding, 99% of the time, they'll be like, oh yeah, we could do it that way because we could use this material instead. Or do they just think on it for 24 hours and then they come back and they're like, I had a solution.
So it happens majority of the time, but we know that we don't take no for an answer. And so we want to make sure that our clients know that we're doing that work for them. So we don't ever want to just come to a client and be like, sorry, it's not possible. If we're coming to you with that, it's because it legitimately isn't because of structural issues, but here's option a, b and c instead.
You know, so and then if vendors aren't like that, there, there's been vendors that we've had to let go, because they just don't share the same values. And see that like we're a team and it's like, they're aware of the highway. I'm like, dude, that's totally fine, but not for us.
All of our vendor processes are important.
From how we take care of vendors, how we communicate to vendors and that question asking process can really be used in every all aspects of life. I would imagine. I mean, I was thinking about it doesn't even just apply to contractors. It applies to so many things.
Yeah. That's all. Well, that's all about that. Yeah. I may ask you questions. You can ask. Then we can get more information on vendors. So yeah, it's all part of the program. You know, I think the only last thing we talked about, the emotional, like remodel can be emotional. We are a present to that. We are aware of that, and I think that women bring a value of empathy with them. And so in construction, we want to be really empathetic to it being emotional. And so, we have weekly check-ins and so we kind of ask those deeper questions, but really we want to make sure that, you know, there is always a solution. And so we, we train the team to be thinking that way, and it's not, we train them not to be scared of emotion or to run away from a situation.
We really encourage them to like, run deep into it because you know, once you know you can talk things out, like there's a solution and there's a path forward and let's get to it. But if we could just sweep things under the rug, it's just going to fester. And so we don't want that to happen for the client or for our team so we pushed them to like, dive in on the deep end and get emotional with you in the sense that they can like be a sounding board for you. Not like emotional, like they're crying or anything. Emotional in a sense that like..
Our project managers will cry with you and will hold your hands.
Yeah. They probably would because they’re really sweet,
They probably would because they're empathetic and they're, some of them like, are you sad? We too.
Yeah. I'm also sad.
I'm sad that you're sad.
No, we are emotionally stable people. We are most days. And like Michelle said, we provide a lot of coaching and training to our team members so that they can show up for you. You know, when you're not, you haven't been in your home for months and that's really hard. I mean, it's so hard when I've been gone on vacation and I come home, I'm so relieved. So…
You know, I have so much empathy for people who aren't at home for even months. And even though they're undergoing this process and they signed up for it, you just don't, you don't have any idea at the road ahead until you're in it,
You know, it's kinda like, it's kinda like motherhood for me where I just heard about it all the time. And then I like, oh, okay. This is what they say.
I mean, there's really no way to know whether it's a remodel or whatever it is unless you go through it. There's no way to know. And everyone's experience is so different, right? Like if you're not working with Simply Home…
But that does remind me of this one client. It was so, I felt so like, just amazing that she called and to ask this question and she's shut up to this client. She's absolutely amazing, but she's working with a different vendor for her floors. Totally fine. It worked out. And so, some sketchy stuff happened with him. And so she was just reached out and was like, do you mind if I just like run some scenarios by you? I just want to make sure that I'm not like, am I crazy or is, did he do something sketchy? Like, is this normal?
And I was like, absolutely. So we talked about it and I told her the situation, anyway, she told me the situation, long story short. It was very sketchy situation. And I basically just gave her questions to ask him and things that she should not release to him. Like for example, payment or material that she had, like she paid for material that's for material, just because he's asking for it does not mean you owe it to him.
Anyway, I really, it made me feel really good at what we're creating because, hey, that would not interest, but be, that she felt so trusting of us to say like, am I getting taken advantage of here? Here's the situation. And I wouldn't normally say like, I oftentimes I might say, no, you're fine. That's actually a very standard, but this was not a standard situation. And so I just gave her some questions and some things that she could use with them. And it worked out fine. She ended up letting them go. It’s totally fine, but she was able to feel trusted that like, hey, wait, no, I'm not crazy. This is not okay.
Yeah, that's so nice that we can be a sounding board for people even if they're not using us. And that's okay. I mean, that's part of our mission of what we want. I was also just talking to someone that's doing a remodel in another state and this isn't a client. This is just a friend of a friend. And the contractor ran off with a sum of like $60,000. And the situation was working on it with a family member. And so I think they instantly obviously regretted giving that sum of money upfront because no real work was done. They couldn't be managed from afar or managed in general. And a lot of times this is how people become a victim or be put in this situation when you're giving out large sums of money and you don't know if they're going to perform or if they're going to do the work.
And something that we pride ourselves on and I think it's really important to establish with a subcontractor or remodeling firm is talking through how pricing is going to work, how payments are going to work, setting up a weekly payment system right because you don't. you don't ever want to be $60,000 in the hole. You don't want to be 10 or $20,000 in the hole, right? So you want to be thinking that through ahead of time and there's so many other tips that we have on our other podcast episodes but please, it just kills me every time someone tells me this. It really…
It's like a dagger to the heart,
It does. It hurts my heart and it really makes me feel sad so if anyone has any questions of what a standard procedure should be or something that you should be asking your contractors, please come to us. We want to help and it is important.
Yeah. Hear here.
Cheers to that.
Cheers to that.
Well that is all for this episode. We are really happy that we could be along for this ride and creating and paving the way for women to just be in this industry in general and reach out to us if you have any questions.