Name: Katie Smith
Position: Self-employed Bricklayer
Company: The Female Factory (Crime to Construction Academy) and The Work Wear Genius
Location: Leicestershire, United Kingdom
What do you enjoy the most, working in the field of construction & development?
I absolutely love my job, I wake up every day and no two days are the same. One day I can be building a house, the next show gardens for designers and then onto garden walls and block paving. It can be challenging sometimes and with that brings also a sense of achievement once the problem is solved. Making people happy, when I build something for someone and I get a smile and a “thank you” at the end, or too see a family setting up a new life in a new home we’ve built, it’s massively rewarding.
Where do you see life in the next 5 years, what possibilities are ahead of you?
In the next five years, I’d like to see a ‘The Female Factory Construction Academy’ up and running. This would be for the young people who are growing up in the system (local authorities), first time offenders or those expelled from school. With the crime rate rising so rapidly, sadly so many young lives being taken. My mission is to get them off the streets and onto the sites. Swap the ‘Crime Gang’ for a ‘Construction Gang’.
If you could write a letter to a 13-year-old ‘you’ what would you say?
At 13 years old I was in the local authorities care which was a bit of a turbulent time for me.
However, what I would tell that younger me is …
You may not have control over what is happening now, but you have control over what happens next, stay on the right path, days will be tough but just keep going because if you could only see where you will be when you are 30, you’d smile and crack on. You weren’t here to be average so don’t make average decisions and make sure you stay humble. Go get the world kid … it’s waiting for you.
What are 3 skills you have had to develop to get to where you are presently?
- I had to start from scratch basically. At the age of 27, I started my apprenticeship with no qualifications. Since then I’ve gained my NVQ Level 2 in Bricklaying, along with my Math & English Key Skills.
- Back in June this year I was selected to represent the women in the trade to build a feature wall at the RHS Chatsworth Flower Show. Laying Vandemoortele bricks for the first time ever, on a 5mm black mortar bed at the back, for a shadow joint effect at the face. Covering a 3m x 10m wall, with 2100 35mm handmade bricks is a skill I’ll carry for life. The wall then went on to win an Award for Best Construction and the Wedgwood Show Garden, which went onto making RHS history!
- Communication and marketing skills – I’ve learnt the ways somehow?! Due to having a workwear range in the making, I’ve had to learn how to be ‘Business Minded’. Spending a lot of time doing research and knowing my audience, has enabled me to build an amazing network of people. I’ve gained just over 15,000 new connections and 4 million views on my posts (on LinkedIn alone), and that’s in just over 7 months! I was fully gobsmacked as this is something I was completely new too at the beginning of the year!