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.
“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.
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.
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:
- How to Work Well with a Contractor
- Expert Advice: 5 Things Your Contractor Wishes You Know (But Is too Polite to Tell You)
- 13 (Great) Questions for Architects Gachot Studios
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.