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Remodeling 101: The All-Women Team at Matriarchy Build Empowers People to DIY It All


Remodeling 101: The All-Women Team at Matriarchy Build Empowers People to DIY It All

June 2, 2022

A while back, Lacey Soslow teamed up with her mother, Audrey, to overhaul Lacey’s fixer-upper. The two had other full-time jobs, but found the experience so satisfying they made a practice of it: see How to Avoid 9 Rookie Remodeling Mistakes from Mother-Daughter House Flippers. They called themselves Matriarchy Build, and, after doing their own project management, materials buying, and specialist hiring, soon had a bigger goal in mind. “We want to get tools into the hands of women,” Lacey told us.

Years in the works, the new incarnation of Matriarchy Build is devoted to just that. Lacey and longtime friend and fellow renovator Gabriella Ainslie have turned the business into an online platform offering consultations by Zoom with women in the building trade. “The two of us have always talked about the jobs we’d love to undertake in our own homes if only we had the right person to guide us and ask for advice along the way,” they explain on the site. “We built Matriarchy Build because we wanted to create a space to talk with a diverse group of women about renovation, design, and DIY projects.” No #skillz required: the idea is to offer guidance to everyone, from hands-on types to the “do-it for-me set” (those inclined to hire help). Lacey and Gabriella also hope to inspire more women to go into the trades.

The site currently represents a roster of 28 licensed professionals, including carpenters, plumbers, tile setters, and electricians, and invites people working on their own places to peruse the Matriarchy Build directory and book time with an expert. These one-on-one video sessions start at 25 minutes for an average price of $55 (the specialists set their own rates) and are designed to be productive: clients are encouraged to fill out questionnaires in advance and to share photos and specs (looking these over is factored into the fees). You can request general help, such as where and how to get started. Or, if desired, you can actually get to work while being coached from afar. The website also offers plenty of free advice, including a series of “Get To Know Your Tool” tutorials on hammers, stud finders, and power saws.

Here, meet six members of the Matriarchy Build crew and read about the remote help they stand ready to offer.

trying to make sense of four different bids and timelines from contractors? or  17
Above: Trying to make sense of four different bids and timelines from contractors? Or wondering whether to tackle the whole house or just the kitchen? Gabriela Narvaez of Guild Properties, a general contracting company in Washington D.C., can advise.

“Sometimes it can be incredibly helpful to talk to an expert who you’re not hiring,” says Lacey. That said, all of these pros run their own businesses and can be employed should they happen to be located near you—see links to their own websites on Matriarchy Build.

schannon yodice calls herself that tile chick. she runs a houston tile contract 18
Above: Schannon Yodice calls herself That Tile Chick. She runs a Houston tile-contracting business and offers instructional videos on Youtube, such as “How to prepare a wooden subfloor for tile.” In a Zoom session, Schannon can answer questions about remodel timelines and what to expect from the process, or instruct on how to tile a backsplash or shower yourself.

In a recent Matriarchy Build consult with a couple who’d had a shower put into their basement but weren’t happy with the results, Schannon diagnosed a faulty shower pan installation. Shen then explained how to take it all apart, put in a new pan and curb, and retile—and encouraged the handy couple to do it themselves.

char miller king of atlanta, georgia, has more than \20 years of carpentry expe 19
Above: Char Miller King of Atlanta, Georgia, has more than 20 years of carpentry experience. A mother of four, she’s a wood shop teacher, and, notes Matriarchy Build, “can meet you at your experience level, whether you’ve been making furniture for years or are new to building.” Some specifics you might ask Char: tips on using a jigsaw and other power tools, suggestions for making a table or bench, and how to build a raised garden bed.
ayrica walker of hers electric in baltimore, maryland, is a licensed and insure 20
Above: Ayrica Walker of HERS Electric in Baltimore, Maryland, is a licensed and insured electrician. She followed her father in the trade: “The joy and happiness of putting things together, taking things apart, and figuring things out has always fed my soul,” she says. In consultations, Ayrica can offer guidance on tackling basic electrical projects, such as how to turn off your breaker, change a light fixture,  and add a dimmer–and how to do it all safely.
the runner up in america&#8\2\17;s next top model in \2006, joanie sprague  21
Above: The runner-up in America’s Next Top Model in 2006, Joanie Sprague discovered carpentry shortly thereafter while working on Run My Renovation and other home improvement shows. She’s now a “handy ma’am” and woodworker in Huntington Beach, California.

Her favorite projects for beginners? “If you’re comfortable using a miter saw, consider putting up an accent wall with batten strips and a chair rail. Or flip furniture: taking things apart and sanding them, filling holes with putty, glueing and clamping the pieces back together and refinishing them—these are all great skills to have.” And Joanie can, of course, talk you through each step.

More remodeling advice:

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Frequently asked questions

What is Matriarchy?

Matriarchy is a collective of women who work in the construction and building trades. They aim to support women in these fields and promote gender equality in the industry.

Why is Matriarchy important?

Matriarchy is important because it provides a supportive community for women in traditionally male-dominated fields. By sharing their experiences and offering advice, Matriarchy members help break down barriers for women in the building trades.

Who are the members of Matriarchy?

Matriarchy is made up of women who work in various areas of the building trades, including carpentry, plumbing, electrical work, and more. Some of the members featured on Remodelista include Sarah Turner of ST Design, carpenter and contractor Myecia Simpkins, and electrician Lily Tran.

What kind of advice do the women of Matriarchy offer?

The women of Matriarchy offer advice on a variety of topics related to the construction and building trades. This can include everything from specific DIY project advice, to tips for getting started in the industry, to issues related to safety and equal opportunity in the workplace.

How can I get involved with Matriarchy?

Matriarchy has a website where you can learn more about their mission and sign up to be a member. You can also follow their social media accounts for updates on their work and advice from the women in the group.

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