When she’s not shaping young minds, this school teacher and softball fanatic has an iron pipe in one hand and a plank of wood in the other.
Driven by her curiosity of how things work as well as her passion for building; Erin Brooks established SheSawDesigns a custom home decor business situated in Penn Yan, New York.
She creates aesthetically pleasing spaces and items harnessing reclaimed woods reflecting her signature rustic and industrial style.
I was fortunate enough to get in touch with this busy lady and ask her a few questions.
Tamara: What does your business name mean/ represent?
Erin: My business’s name represents me and my company as a whole. SheSawDesigns, says it all. “She Came, She Saw, She Built” is my motto and I think the name represents itself pretty well. Meaning I built everything myself and I am a woman in a traditionally male geared trade. With that being said, I also design everything myself too, to fit my customer needs and wants. The name also speaks for a lot of my customers, if my customers see a design they love and want, I hope I can give them either the courage, motivation, or knowledge to build their dreams.
Tamara: Tell me about your woodworking journey.
Erin: What started as a weekend hobby has grown to become a business I am passionate about. I have always been interested in how things work: clocks with intricate gears, musical instruments, lincoln logs and the crafts my grandfather built from scraps of wood all fascinated me. I had to know how these things worked! That same thirst for an answer led me down a crazy path of research when I bought my first home in 2016. As most new (or veteran!) homeowners can attest, finding the right decor can be tricky. It turns out the decor I wanted was either way over budget or not fit for the job. I had no choice. I had to build it myself. I had to make it work. So I chose to build it and I made it work. I made it work so well that I sold it to friends and then they told their friends and the rest, as they say, is history.
I personally was never formally trained in this field, I actually went to school to be a teacher and I am presently still a teacher. I really value education and I love teaching my students the value of being a self-learner. I feel it all starts with motivation and the “beginner spirit” and then never forgetting that spirit and always be a student in the game!
Tamara: What were your greatest challenges getting to where you are now?
Erin: The biggest challenges that I faced getting to where I am now is really pushing through the gender block. Walking into any department stores and getting asked do you need help in a “you don’t know what you’re doing” kind of way is still something I see and hear a lot. The way I grew up, those comments do not really bother me because my dad took me everywhere with him and taught me everything he knows, he expected me to work harder than anyone (male or female) else and still does to this day and I thank him for that every day.
Tamara: What characteristics/ skills/ attitude do you think you need to be a successful woodworker/builder and business owner?
Erin: I think there are many things that make you a success starting from your frame of mind. I truly believe that if you never let anyone outwork you, no matter what, you will always win. I feel that no matter what you can be a self-learner as long as you’re willing to work for it. Having the ambition to learn, work, and try new things without the fear of “failure” you will always be able to find success. I think the fear of failure is some people’s “Achilles heel” and view failure in a different way. Sometimes failure can be hard, but I view it as a learning experience. I learn more when I fail. So view it as a learning experience and take in everything I can!
Tamara: What has been your most rewarding experience as a business owner so far?
Erin: The most rewarding part of my business so far has to be the moment I was grocery shopping (pushing my cart around in the frozen food section) and a lady stopped me and says, “Oh my god, you are SheSawDesigns” and I was like a deer in headlights and then it registered to me and probably smiled the biggest, goofiest smile I had and said; “yes, I am” (laughing of course). She said, “I follow you on Facebook, I love your stuff and that little boy that you always have in your video is so adorable, you two are so funny.” It was probably the most surreal, amazing feeling, ever. I do not think I will ever forget that feeling or moment!
Tamara: Who are your role model(s)?
Erin: I look up to my Dad and my Mom, I really am my father to the core with a mix of my mom’s genuine, charismatic, personality and humor. My mom has always been there to help push me and encourage me through it all! My mom has always been at everything I have been in, from every sports game I have played in or coached, to just recently my festival that I was in this past weekend! Both of my parents have been the greatest support I could have ever asked for and I wouldn’t be where I am today without them!
Tamara: What advice can you offer other ladies interested in this trade?
Erin: Advice I would give the ladies, or anyone that really wants to jump into woodworking is, JUST DO IT, TRY IT, FAIL, GET BETTER AND REPEAT! The best thing with woodworking, if you mess up, it always makes great firewood and story to tell later (after your done being mad about it of course)!
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