Toronto, Ontario, Canada
At The International Women's Automotive Society, our motto is to dream big, believe in yourself and surround yourself with good people. Here is a woman who has done just that. Despite all odds, Hilary is sreaching for her dreams and gives you an opportunity to be part of the action. Here, Hilary tells us all about her passions and goals of opening her own shop as well as gives advice for future female business owners.
What is your interest within the automotive industry?
body work, classic cars & restorations
I want to build a successful female owned and operated business, I want to gear my business towards building custom cars and restorations, and do top quality work. I want to provide a positive environment for training other young female technicians, and I want my business to be be an inspiration for any young female interested in getting into the automotive industry
What got you interested in body work/ classic cars?
I bought a '70 Oldsmobile when I was 17 and I wanted to learn how to fix it, so I drove down to the local auto body shop and asked if I could do a co-op. They said yes, and after I finished that and graduated high school I started right into my auto body repair apprenticeship
I originally thought I wanted to be a mechanic (I took shop class in high school) but I really hated all the electrical aspects of it! I guess the idea of transforming and changing the way a car looks just always appealed to me
What are your goals in the industry?
I have huge goals, ridiculous goals haha. I don't just want a business, I want a successful business. I want my work to be known, I want to create something great.... so that when I die I feel like I actually accomplished something with my life. I want to build top quality show cars, I want to push my self to always be learning new skills, and I want to be able to pass my knowledge on and train the next generation of technicians
What would you like to see in regards to women's involvement in the industry?
I would like to see more women getting into trades, I hate when I meet a girl and they tell me 'I wish I could do what you do'. I hope that eventually it gets to the point where no one even bats an eye if a girl is working in the trade. I'd like to see employers being more supportive of hiring females as well, everyone should get a fair chance.
What advice would you have for a female interested in starting her own business in the auto industry?
I would say make sure you have a good support system of friends and family, there are going to be a lot of people who will laugh at you, tell you that you can't do it, and just general negativity for no reason. Having a good group of people who believe in you and encourage you will help you stay strong. Take the time to build your skills and really get to know people in your industry. In a society where everything moves at warp speed is easy to be impatient and rush things, make sure you're fully confident in you skills before you venture out on your own, you want to do the best quality work possible..... it's your name and reputation on the line! Lastly, just be fearless and confident, you need to believe in yourself first before you expect others too.
What obstacles have you encountered in your path to success and what were your solutions?
Sometimes it's hard to get someone to take the time to teach you when you're learning, you just have to be persistent. Certain people won't take you seriously being a female in a male dominated field, but I always try to use that as motivation to be the best I can be, let your work do the talking.
What is the best way to go about getting an apprenticeship? What should you look for?
You need to find a body shop that will hire you on as an apprentice. In order to be registered as an apprentice, the shop that you plan to work at must have a licensed auto body repair technician that you can work under. Most shops will be open to having apprentices, as they will get incentives from the government for having them.
I'm not 100% sure of the exact numbers, but the government supplements some of the wages for registered apprentices (in Ontario, Canada).
Anything you would like to say to the women of the industry?
Just to never give up! Don't give in to the negativity. If it's something you're passionate about, then it's worth it! It's an awesome career, I couldn't imagine doing anything else!
Hilary is living proof that if you work hard enough and believe in yourself and you passions, anything is possible. Click the link below to see how you can help bring her dream to life and support an all female body shop.
Ink & Iron Fundraiser