Inspiring Inclusion in the Trades

As a woman working in the traditionally male-dominated field of carpentry, International Women’s Day holds a profound significance for me. It’s not just a day of recognition; it’s a celebration of resilience, empowerment and the relentless pursuit of inclusion. This year, the theme “Inspire Inclusion” resonates deeply with my experiences as a woman in the trades.

Throughout my career and my diverse experiences as a carpenter, I have faced constant skepticism and stereotyping. I had many doubters suggest I was only there to meet a quota or because I was pretty enough for television (speaking to my time on well known HGTV shows like Holmes on Holmes and Deck Wars). But through determination and passion for my craft, I persevered. Each project completion became a testament to my capabilities as a carpenter, regardless of gender.

HGTV Kate Campbell who was in Holmes on Holmes and Deck Wars International Women's Day

After years in the business and with a lengthy resume of successful projects, I believe that I am a tradesperson as worthy as any male tradesperson. And yet, in my work as an influencer and advocate, I still bump up against disbelief and skepticism. This has brought to my attention that ‘inspiring inclusion’ is much more than just inviting women to the table; it’s about fostering an environment where their voices are valued, respected and embraced. I have witnessed firsthand the transformative power of inclusion when teams incorporate or welcome women, they become more innovative, collaborative and resilient. 

Because true inclusion requires more than just lip service, I felt inspired to make this year’s International Women’s Day a month-long celebration by featuring different women in trades on my social media and blog. Different backgrounds and experiences enrich, leading to more creative solutions and better outcomes. This helped me shape the interviews that are to be released over the next month because inclusion isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s also the smart thing to do for businesses and industries!

Over the next several weeks, you will see interviews from different women in trades on my social media and blog. The questions I have asked them are carefully crafted to spark the conversation of ‘inspiring inclusion’ in the trades industry. It starts with awareness and then leads to education. By doing this, I hope to challenge ingrained biases and stereotypes by promoting role models and highlighting the achievements of women in non-traditional fields, like trades. 

Together we can inspire the next generation to pursue their passions without limitations!

Women in Trades Features:

Carpenter Paigey and Kate Campbell International Women's Day

Carpenter Paigey @carpenterpaigey:

Meet Paige Heron! A carpenter from Toronto, Canada. Paige joined the trades after her parents encouraged her to apply for a local cabinet company one summer during university. She had zero trades experience, and was pursuing a totally different career. Her parents thought she might enjoy it, and turns out, they were right! After that summer, she would work at the same cabinet company every summer leading to her designation as a carpenter.

What does Paige hope to see change and improve in the trades industry to ‘inspire inclusion?’

She hopes that providing simple items like wastebaskets in the Porta-Potties at job sites for feminine products will support inclusivity on a very ground level. She would also love more discussions around women in trades maternity plans as she hopes to one day have children, and would like to know what that looks like in her own career, as she is sure others do as well!

Advice Paige would give to women who aspire to have a career in the trades:

“Become comfortable with being uncomfortable.” This is a concept Paige believes should be applied to the workplace and your everyday life! You might not get it perfect every time, but she encourages getting comfortable with jumping in while also giving yourself grace. 

Therefore; practice makes perfect!

Molly the Carpenter and Kate Campbell International Women's Day

Molly the Carpenter @mollythecarpenter

Molly Allgood took a bit of a roundabout way to get to her designation as a carpenter. It was always an industry that was around her through her Uncle Eric, who was a carpenter himself. He would encourage her to help him with projects, and Molly really looked up to him. However, carpentry was not a top of mind career for her.

After some personal triumph, she recognized her love for building cottages during a summer job in university, so she went back to school and became a carpenter! 

What does Molly think it takes to be a woman in trades?

Molly explains that being a good listener, communicating well and doing your best at whatever task you’re given, no matter how little or big that task is, is the key to success in the trades!

Molly also encourages women looking to get into the trades to believe in yourself, trust yourself, do the best job you can and have a great support system around you. With those things, she believes you can handle and tackle anything that comes at you!

What does Molly hope to see change in the trades to ‘inspire inclusion?’

A change of mindset. Molly really believes that our tools and technologies are constantly changing, adapting and improving. However, the mindset and thinking of people in her trade are very much stuck in the past.

Samara Sampson and Kate Campbell International Women's Day

Samara Sampson @wingnutless 

Samara Sampson is a 308A red seal sheet metal worker out of Smart Local 285 inToronto, Canada! She also co-founded @women.on.site which is a nonprofit organization for women and gender diverse people in the trades, STEM, manufacturing and Ag industry. 

Samara felt inspired to get into the trades after taking an automotive class in high school where she was excelling and her instructor took note. This ‘sparked’ her imagination to pursue a career as a welder. 

What advice does Samara have for women looking to get into the trades?

“I personally had a lot of self doubt and fear. A lot of what I did, I did afraid. But I came out the other side . . . I’m not ever going to let anything stop me, and you shouldn’t either! Trade jobs are here and we’re not going anywhere!” – Samara

How does Samara  think the trades industry, specifically her industry, can ‘inspire inclusion?’

Samara believes the industry has come a long way, but believes in the promotion of outreach. She knows that skilled trades do need people in much needed roles. Samara believes that by getting into the schools and talking with parents to bring the awareness that opportunities are out there would help ‘inspire inclusion.’ 

Samara says in her experience, guidance from mentors was really helpful therefore; mentoring programs would ‘inspire inclusion’ as well.

Although Samara is aware that there are a lot of policies in place in the workplace, they may not always be enforced. She believes that setting safe standards for the workplace, always and holding people accountable will improve and diversify the industry.

Stay tuned to my social media and blog as we roll out more features during the month ahead! Happy International Women’s Day. I hope my initiative and content inspires you to promote inclusion, no matter what industry or role you’re in. – Kate Campbell

1

BEHR® Brilliance: Make Over My Mudroom with Premium Paint Products

 

In the world of home improvement, the transformation of a space often begins with a simple brushstroke. My mudroom is functional but it’s an often overlooked utilitarian space.  With its builder grade cabinets and boring aesthetic, this room provided me with the perfect canvas for a makeover. This blog will delve into the process of revamping my mudroom cabinets, highlighting the transformative power of BEHR® products and how they have evolved to become a go-to choice for professionals.

 

The journey begins with a can of BEHR PREMIUM Cabinet, Door & Trim Enamel Paint in Limousine Leather MQ5-05, (the perfect black in my opinion!). This specially formulated paint is designed to have excellent flow and levelling and dries to a hard, durable finish. Obviously cabinets get a lot of use and this mudroom is a thoroughfare in our home, so durability is a must.  When you’re taking the time to make over a space, you want to make sure the fruits of your labour last (this especially applies to contractors – the last thing you want is a call back because your paint is chipping!) and that’s why I chose BEHR PREMIUM Cabinet, Door & Trim Enamel Paint.  Its advanced formula also ensures easy application, providing a professional touch to cabinets, that goes beyond the capabilities of regular paints.

 

To add a touch of elegance and texture, the next step involved installing fluted wooden wall panels that I picked up from The Home Depot Canada. Behr’s commitment to innovation extends to its interior stain regimen, which was instrumental in achieving the rich, golden hue on these panels.

 

 

Before staining, it’s crucial to prepare the wood surface. BEHR Water-Based’s Pre Stain Wood Conditioner ensures an even absorption of stain, preventing blotching and streaking. This step showcases the dedication from Behr Paint to creating a comprehensive system for professional results.

The choice of stain plays a pivotal role in determining the final look. BEHR Fast Drying Water-Based Wood Stain in Golden Oak not only provides a warm and inviting colour but it also dries quickly, saving valuable time on projects.  I went with Golden Oak B4510 because of its rich brown undertones and boy did it deliver! 

To protect and preserve the beauty of the stained wood, the final touch involves sealing with BEHR Fast Drying Water-Based Polyurethane in Matte. This not only enhances the longevity of the fluted panels but also complements the subtle sheen finish of the cabinets.  

These products were all so easy to apply and work with – the results spoke for themselves!  The wood fluting is a gorgeous accent and plays off of the BEHR PREMIUM Cabinet, Door & Trim Enamel Paint in Limousine Leather MQ5-05 perfectly! The BEHR Interior Stain regimen is another example of how BEHR is committed to helping paint pros achieve high quality, long lasting, durable and professional projects. 

BEHR Paint Products – More than Just DIY:

BEHR has undergone a remarkable evolution over the years, transcending its identity as a brand primarily associated with DIY projects. The introduction of specialty paints and finishes, such as the BEHR Cabinet, Door & Trim Enamel Paint and BEHR Fast Drying Water-Based Polyurethane, demonstrates commitment to meeting the demands of professionals.

Innovation and Differentiating Benefits:

Advanced Formulas: BEHR products boast advanced formulas that set them apart in terms of durability, coverage, and ease of application.

Comprehensive Systems: The interior wood care product collection exemplifies Behr’s dedication to providing professionals with a complete system, ensuring optimal results at every stage of a project.

Project-Specific Solutions: With a diverse range of BEHR products catering to different surfaces and project requirements, the brand has become a one-stop-shop for professionals, offering convenience and reliability.

This mudroom transformation exemplifies the power of innovation in the realm of home improvement. BEHR products show a commitment to quality, durability, and ease of use that is evident throughout the process, making it a top choice for professionals seeking exceptional results.

 

 

You can find BEHR products exclusively at The Home Depot Canada, making them easily accessible for all your professional jobs and home improvement projects.  Learn more about BEHR products at behrpro.ca

This post is sponsored by BEHR®

7

BEHR® Paints: Affordable Excellence – The Palette of Pros

After renovating for what seems like forever, theres only one room left in my house with exposed drywall and today I’m working on finishing it.  The spotlight is on BEHR® products, celebrated for their value-driven approach, offering both low cost and uncompromising quality.

To start, Ill be using BEHR® Drywall Plus Primer and Sealer.

Surface Sealing and Uniform Absorption:

For any paint project, and especially when working with exposed drywall, the foundation is crucial.  BEHR Drywall Plus Primer and Sealer is designed to seal the porous surface of drywall and helps achieve a more uniform finish while also helping with the adhesion of the next layer of paint.  This is really important if you are painting over new or repaired drywall, like I am here, where the surface might be inconsistent due to joint compound or patches.

 

Stain Blocking and Hiding Imperfections:

BEHR Drywall Plus, Primer and Sealer also has properties that help block stains and hide imperfections on the wall. This is especially useful when dealing with areas that may have water stains, ink marks, or other blemishes, providing a cleaner and more professional-looking finish.

This primer not only lays the groundwork for a flawless finish but does so without burning a hole in your pocket. The main message here is clear: affordable excellence. As a business owner, budget is *always* on my mind.  Every dollar counts and that’s the added bonus of using BEHR paints: You stick to your budget without sacrificing quality.  And the quality of my projects is SO important because it directly influences my reputation and my business. 

Next up?

On the walls I used BEHR PREMIUM PLUS® Interior Paint & Primer in an eggshell sheen. I chose the colour Whipped Cream DC-001 from the BEHR Designer Collection, to keep the space light and bright.

Its The eggshell finish leaves a soft and subtle sheen that resists dirt and grime. I was also really impressed the consistency of this product – it was just right, not too thick or thin. It’s also worth mentioning the user-friendly and functional design of the simple pour lid and spout. It makes clean up so much easier and it leaves less room for accidental spills. The dry time was impressive and the overall finish of the paint completely transformed the look and feel of this space. Light and bright!  

To finish this project off, I installed the last piece of baseboard, caulking the top with BEHR® Rapid Dry Acrylic Caulk (I love that its paint ready in as little as 10 minutes!)  It can be used for trim, crown moulding, baseboards, doors and windows.  It totally brought the room together and made it feel complete. The cherry on top of the ‘Whipped Cream’ cake.

Behr Products: Quality without Compromise 

For painting professionals, the marriage of cost-effectiveness and top-tier quality is non-negotiable. Behr not only acknowledges this but excels in providing products that redefine the standards of value in the professional painting arena. Every product I used in this transformation is a testament to Behr’s commitment to delivering quality without inflating the project budget.

You can find these BEHR products exclusively at The Home Depot Canada.  Learn more about BEHR products at behrpro.ca/pro

This post is sponsored by BEHR®

7

Transforming Spaces with BEHR DYNASTY® Interior Paint & Primer: A Pro’s Perspective

Today, I’m excited to take you behind the scenes of my latest bedroom project, where I’m putting BEHR DYNASTY® Interior Paint & Primer to the test. This incredible paint not only makes my job easier but also elevates the overall look of the space.

And guess what colour I’ve chosen for this project?

The stunning Cracked Pepper PPU18-01, named the 2024 Colour of the Year.

It’s like BEHR DYNASTY was crafted with professionals like us in mind. Its advanced formula offers impeccable coverage, and the finish it provides is outstanding. What sets BEHR DYNASTY apart is its advanced stain repellency and unmatched scuff resistance. As a contractor who does a lot of painting, this feature not only keeps my clients’ walls looking fresh for an extended period but also gives me the peace of mind that my work will withstand the test of time.

Time is money in our line of work, and that’s where BEHR DYNASTY really impresses me. The one-coat hide* is a game-changer, and with over 1,000 colours to choose from, I’m guaranteed a flawless finish with minimal effort. The fast drying time** is another perk that I really appreciate. I was able to paint the accent wall in under half an hour including cutting in and rolling! This not only allows me to get my clients back into their spaces faster but also enables me to move on to my next project without unnecessary delays.

Having tried numerous products over the years, I can confidently say that BEHR DYNASTY stands out, especially when you factor in its reasonable price point. Saving money without compromising on quality or convenience is a rare find, and BEHR DYNASTY delivers just that—a win-win situation if you ask me!

Now, let’s talk about the star of the show—the 2024 Colour of the Year, Cracked Pepper PPU18-01. This deep and sophisticated colour transforms the bedroom into a space of elegance and style. The richness of Cracked Pepper adds a timeless appeal.  I love it on this feature wall and if I had any advice I would say, if you have reservations about painting with a darker colour, a feature wall is a great way to test the waters!

After painting an entire bedroom with BEHR DYNASTY, I am genuinely thrilled with the results. The transformation is remarkable, there were no visible signs of brush or roller marks and the finish is so smooth.  This product has become one I’m incredibly proud to recommend to my fellow pros. It’s not just about painting walls; it’s about creating a lasting impression and a space that stands the test of time.

If you’re on the lookout for a paint that combines professional-grade quality, efficiency, and style, look no further than BEHR DYNASTY Interior Paint & Primer.  You can find BEHR® products exclusively at The Home Depot Canada, making them easily accessible for all your home improvement projects.  Learn more about BEHR products at behrpro.ca

Cheers to transforming spaces with the best in the game!

This post is sponsored by BEHR®

*One-coat hide valid only when tinted to colours from the BEHR DYNASTY & MARQUEE® Interior One-Coat Hide Colour Collection

**Darker colours may require additional dry time between coats. Cooler temperatures or higher humidity may prolong drying time.

8

Flushing Out the Facts: Kate Campbell’s Comprehensive Toilet Guide

When it comes to toilets, there are numerous ambiguous terms and misconceptions that make it difficult to know what to look for when purchasing a new one! In this post, we’ll go over some of the most important considerations when purchasing a toilet, as well as dispel common myths along the way so you can find the toilet of your dreams. Buckle up!

TOILET FUNDAMENTALS

First and foremost, let’s go over the fundamentals: what is a toilet and how does it work? A toilet is a plumbing fixture that is used to dispose of human waste. It is made up of three parts: a bowl and seat, a tank, and a flushing mechanism. When you flush the toilet, a large volume of water is released from the tank into the bowl, washing the waste down a pipe and into the sewer or septic system. 

Got it? Good, now let’s move on to the fun stuff!

FLUSHING SYSTEMS

Believe it or not, the flushing system is one of the most important factors to consider when shopping for a toilet. There are two kinds of flushing systems: gravity, also known as siphonic, flushing systems, and pressure-assisted flushing systems. 

The most common type is a gravity or siphonic flush toilet. These toilets use the weight of the water in the tank to push the waste out of the bowl and into the pipes. Gravity flush toilets are generally quieter and more dependable than pressure-assisted toilets, and can be just as effective at removing waste from the bowl. Pressure-assisted flush toilets use pressurized air in the tank to help push the waste out of the bowl. These toilets are typically very powerful and efficient at removing waste, but can be louder and less reliable than gravity flush toilets.

Surprisingly, toilets have come a long way when it comes to flushing technology. One of my favorites is American Standard’s VorMax Collection, featuring the innovative VorMax flush technology. This revolutionary technology cleans 2x better than conventional toilets* by delivering a single powerful jet of water that vigorously scrubs the entire surface of the bowl from top to bottom, including the hard-to-reach spots. It also eliminated the conventional rim holes around the inside of the bowl that deliver water during flushing cycles to make it that much more efficient and reliable.

 

*Source: Test Report No. 109-141486-002, comparing VorMax against conventional under-the-rimwater-dispersal toilets from major retailers.

Another incredible option is American Standard’s Champion Flushing System. This cutting-edge line of toilets achieves the best flushing performance in the market, virtually eliminating clogs. How does Champion get rid of obstructions? The flush system has the largest 4-inch flush valve in the industry and an extra wide trapway (a curved pipe underneath the toilet bowl that the waste passes through when it is flushed) that quickly removes waste without clogging any areas.

FLUSHING POWER

Another important factor to consider when purchasing a new toilet is the flushing power. Toilets are rated on a scale from 0.5 to 1.6 gallons per flush (GPF) and a lower GPF means that it’ll be a more water efficient toilet (standard toilets flush at a rate of 1.28 GPF).

 

One common misconception about toilets is that all low-flow toilets are inefficient at flushing. While some low-flow toilets may lack the flushing power of higher-flow toilets, there are Ultra-High Efficiency Toilets on the market that flush at rates as low as 1.0 GPF, without sacrificing performance. These toilets, like American Standard’s H2Optimum Two Piece Chair Height Toilet (1.1 GPF) conserve up to 30% more water than standard toilets for a more sustainable option.

If you’re looking to conserve water but still want the option of a higher-flow flush, I suggest considering a dual-flush system. This offers the ability to choose either a full or partial flush, which in turn helps save water and money. The Studio Dual-Flush Elongated Toilet is a great option as it’s not only water-saving, but it also features a smooth, streamlined design making it that much easier to clean.

BOWL SHAPE

Bowl shape is another important consideration when shopping for a new toilet. Toilet bowls are classified into two types: round and elongated. Round bowls are shorter in length and more compact than oval bowls, making them an excellent choice for small bathrooms or small children. With a larger surface area, elongated bowls have become the more popular option and are thought to be more hygienic and comfortable.

Round: Champion 4 Max Round Front Toilet

Elongated: Cadet Pro Compact Chair Height Elongated Toilet

TOILET HEIGHT

Another factor to consider is the toilet’s height. Standard toilets are 14-15 inches tall, whereas comfort height or chair height toilets are typically 16-19 inches tall. Chair height toilets are more practical for individuals who have mobility issues or find it difficult to sit and stand from a low toilet seat. I personally prefer a chair height toilet, as I find it to be more comfortable and convenient, but I suggest visiting your nearest toilet retailer to find which height works best for your needs. Additionally, chair height toilets are more likely to be Barrier Free and/or ADA compliant and generally simpler to use for those with mobility issues.

TOILET ROUGH-IN SIZE

A big toilet misconception is that all toilets are the same size. While most toilets are roughly the same size, there may be differences in the width and depth of the bowl and tank. To ensure that the toilet will fit properly in your bathroom, be sure to measure the exact space where you intend to install it to avoid any potential issues and also measure the distance between the centre to the wall.  This is commonly referred to as rough-in size. The most common is a 12” rough but some older homes or smaller spaces may need a 10” which is available in the American Standard collection.

EASY CLEANING

Cleaning the toilet is often at the top of the list of worst chores around the house. But with today’s design features, brands like American Standard have made it easier to clean the toilet so you can get back to enjoying your day.

Let’s start with a concealed trapway design. I’ve installed quite a few toilets in my day, and I’ve found that toilets with concealed trapways are my favorite. Not only are they aesthetically pleasing with a sleek, contemporary design, but they’re also that much easier to clean due to the smooth skirted sides. I installed American Standard’s Studio Touchless Toilet in my own home and absolutely love it. Although regular cleaning is necessary for all toilets, the skirted sides have fewer crevices for dirt and germs to hide, making cleaning a breeze.

American Standard is also saving the day with their EverClean Technology. Built right into the surface of their toilets, this antimicrobial coating is designed to inhibit the growth of bacteria, mold, mildew and fight against long-lasting stains for a fresher, cleaner bathroom with a fraction of the effort.

HIGH-TECH TOILETS

Speaking of Touchless Toilets, if you’re looking for a fun, affordable, sleek, and hygienic toilet upgrade, I highly recommend investing in a touchless toilet by American Standard. The benefits of going hands-free include a healthier bathroom environment (less contact means less germ transfer!), increased efficiency, and added convenience.  

The Studio Touchless Toilet features a powerful flushing system ensuring daily dependability, and a flush sensor that can be positioned anywhere within three feet of the toilet, making it more accessible. Added bonus: when you wave your hand over the sensor and the toilet flushes, you’ll feel like you have magical powers! Sure to bring a smile to your face each time you flush.

If you’re looking to drastically improve your bathroom experience, investing in a bidet toilet may be the right move for you. American Standard’s Advanced 100 SpaLet Bidet Toilet combines the cleansing of a bidet with the sleek lines of a modern, auto-flush toilet for ultimate comfort and convenience. Featuring a heated seat and dual nozzles that direct a stream of warm water to front and rear areas, this bidet is a true game changer that you must experience to appreciate!

Although there are numerous factors to consider when shopping for a new toilet, it’s important to consider which you find to be the most important based on your specific needs and wants. If you keep these options and details in mind, you’ll be sure to find a toilet that meets your functional needs, style preferences, and budget requirements in no time. Happy toilet shopping!

10

Becoming a Yard Champion with Troy-Bilt and The Home Depot Canada

 

A dream of mine when I moved to British Columbia was to have a big piece of land that was close to the water. I pictured something where I could create an outdoor oasis including veggie garden beds, a place to raise chickens, big swaths of lawn for playing sports, with enough space to let dogs run and a place to host friends and family outdoors.

If you want to own a big piece of land, one of the first things you need to think about is getting yourself a big ol’ riding lawn mower. (Insert Tim Allen grunt here)

 

A riding lawn mower is not only a great investment to help ease the burden of maintaining a big lawn but personally, I actually enjoy getting out there, putting a good podcast on or my fave playlist and bopping away in my own little lawn cutting haven.

Spring is in full swing out here on the west coast and the Home Depot Canada and Troy-Bilt wanted to help me become a full-on yard champion this spring by equipping me with the Troy-Bilt 15.5HP 42” Foot CVT Gas Riding Lawn Mower and the Super Bronco Rear Tine Tiller – two outdoor tools that will most definitely help me win at yard work and take steps towards my dream of having a super spiffy outdoor oasis.

My first experience with the Troy-Bilt riding lawn mower was exactly what I pictured. The sun was shining, and this baby was purring! I had let the lawn get pretty long because we had several weeks of rain, and I wasn’t able to get outside. A good test for the mower and boy oh boy did it pass with flying colours. It fired up quickly and easily, and was an absolute beast as I ripped around the property.

The mower’s huge 42″ deck helped speed up cutting time and it also has a 5-position height adjustment setting which really helped me get an even cut. I liked the responsiveness of the foot pedals as I navigated my way around the lawn adjusting the speed or reversing as I needed to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the best parts? It even has a cup holder for your fave cold beverage on a hot summer day!

 

Then I moved on to the rear tine tiller.

I have to be honest, I’m a tiller newbie. I’ve never used one before and I even had to explain to a friend what a tiller is! In case you didn’t know, a tiller is used to dig, loosen, and break up hard ground into smaller chunks to create a new garden bed that’s suitable for planting (whether its flowers, veggies or fruit.) A tiller can also be used for removing weeds, blending manure and compost or improving drainage.

Now that we’ve got that covered, you also have to decide between a front tine and rear tine tiller. Front tine tillers are smaller and a bit more maneuverable and rear tine tillers are for larger areas. I went with the Troy-Bilt Bronco rear tine tiller. This tiller has a 14″ tilling width which is great because it works with my current garden (which is a little bit smaller) but it’s also suitable for bigger gardens (like my future dream garden!) To break it down a little further (tiller pun intended!), a tine is another name for a blade found on a tiller.

Being a first timer, I was impressed with how easy the tiller was to use. Learning how to work the tiller with the forward and reverse handles was really user friendly and intuitive. The machine fired up quickly and easily and I didn’t struggle with it at all. I’m often the person that just tries to figure something out without reading the instructions (not always a good idea, but I’m stubborn! Haha) but because I’ve never used a tiller before, I read through the whole manual. The instructions were clear and easy to understand, which was great because there was also a little assembly required.

I really put this tiller to work! Not only was the ground a bit mucky, it was also rocky in some areas and the tiller cut through all of it without any hesitation. This was where the self propelling feature really came in handy. I never had to struggle or really push the machine too much because it did all of the work for me! You can also easily set the depth of the tines from behind the tiller to adjust how deep the tines go into the ground.

It would have taken me all day (at least!) and a lot of achy muscles to do what this tiller did in under half an hour. I can’t wait to put it to use again and I’m so excited to have added a tiller to my gardening repertoire!

These Troy-Bilt products are available in store at the Home Depot Canada or online homedepot.ca through standard or express shipping or free pickup in store. Products over $35 are even eligible for free shipping!

Happy spring and best of luck with your yard, champs!

 

This post is sponsored by The Home Depot Canada. All expressed opinions and experiences are my own words.

14

How did you get into the trades? (The Long Answer)

This question is – without a doubt – the most commonly asked question I get. We still live in a day and age where it’s unusual to see a woman wearing a tool belt. Women are severely under represented in the male-dominated skilled trades sector.

As quoted from a recent Macleans article, “women’s representation in many trades, including automotive service technician, electrician and carpenter, is less than five per cent. (The numbers are even smaller when it comes to women of colour. The same CAF-FCA report says, “nearly half of Red Seal trades have no visible minority women, and the other half only between one and 12 per cent.”)

It’s no wonder that it’s a little shocking to see a woman walking into a job site – let alone running the job site, owning the contracting company, hopping on the tools and purchasing and working on her own houses. But it took me 15 years to get to this place and I had to start somewhere.

This is where my story begins.

I think it’s important to note that there is a short answer. I went to an all women trade school. Full stop. But we all have so many different factors at play in our lives that I believe the whole story is just as important as the short answer.

For as long as I can remember I have been an active person. I love sports and play. Growing up I was incredibly blessed to have a diverse array of activities at my fingertips. I participated in gymnastics, dance, baseball, soccer and took riding lessons.

Reflecting on this and the question of how I got into the trades, it was actually a conversation with my mom where something interesting came up. She mentioned to me, “You know Kate, you didn’t just want to play baseball as a young girl, you wanted to play hardball, with the boys”

kate's baseball picture

 

So like the good supportive parents that they are, they signed me up! She went on to talk about how the first time I walked onto the baseball field, the boys on my team wouldn’t throw the ball with me. And how I sat on one end of the bench and all the boys sat on the other. She mentioned a blissful ignorance of the fact that I wasn’t completely accepted by the team because I was a girl. It wasn’t until I stepped up to the plate and my team realized I could actually hit that they gave me a chance. (and for the sake of the story I always say that I hit a home run, but in reality I probably just held my own, running around the bases with a huge smile on my face). In time I proved myself and was finally looked on as part of the team. She continued to say, “And Kate, you did this year after year, new team after new team, proving yourself and holding your own in a world full of boys”

kate's baseball picture

 

It’s always interesting to look back on certain moments in our life with a different lens, isn’t it?

Fast forward to high school where the pressure really starts to mount on students to choose their career path. I was an academic student, taking all university courses based on the fact that I was told that was what I was supposed to do. But this is where I really started to get confused. I was being told I needed to go to university to be successful, but I didn’t want to just go to university, well, because?

So I did what most students do when they need help. I sought out guidance from my school’s guidance counselor. By this time I was in Grade 12 and apparently really needed to figure out my life path. The interesting dilemma was that I walked into the guidance office and immediately noticed that my transcript was out on the desk. Even though I mentioned that the only thing I knew was that I didn’t want to sit behind a desk for the rest of my life and that I loved being active, the question wasn’t, “Kate, what do you love to do? What would light you up inside?” It was, “Kate, you’re graduating with a 92% academic average, what university will you be going to?”

kate's high school picture

 

I was so lost and this meeting didn’t help so I did the only thing I thought I had to do. I applied. I applied to five schools and was very fortunate to be accepted to all of them, WITH academic scholarships. I remember clearly, sitting at my kitchen table talking with my parents and feeling so conflicted. I had the opportunity in front of me to go to university, ‘the path to success’ that is prescribed to every student. And I didn’t want it. I couldn’t just go because I was supposed to. I remember voicing these concerns to my entrepreneurial parents. My dad had never gone to school, college or university, yet built and owned several businesses over the years and had had success in his own right. My mom on the other hand, had gone to university but hadn’t pursued her chosen program after graduation. It was at this time that my parents gave me one of the biggest gifts a parent could ever bestow on their child, the gift of unconditional support no matter the choice. I clearly remember my parents saying to me,

“Kate, we believe in you, we’re proud of you and will support you no matter what you choose. You don’t have to go to university to be successful, you need to find something you love doing”

In hearing those words I felt like there was a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders. In that moment I decided that I wasn’t going to go to university. I was going to TRAVEL! (I’m not sure if my parents were, in fact, completely 100% supportive of their teenaged girl leaving for four months to backpack around Australia and New Zealand, but they put on a really brave front)

Whenever someone asks me how I gain clarity in my life, one of the main things I always reference is my love of travel. I love it for so many different reasons; the fact that it expands your world view, it grounds you, it introduces you to different ways of living and people of all walks of life. Travelling at this point in my life was formative because I realized that there were so many different paths I could walk down in my own life. Although I was hearing a lot of “What do you mean you’re not going to university!?” from well-intentioned people who were close to me, I now knew that, just because the society I lived in was telling me I ‘had’ to do something, didn’t mean I actually did ‘have’ to.

I came home a different person. Full of life and enthusiasm. I had done a lot of reflecting as I travelled. I always thought my dream job would be a National Geographic photojournalist. It combined three things that I loved. Travel, taking pictures and writing, so I applied and was accepted to college for photojournalism in Alberta, half way across the country (I live in Ontario, Canada).

As fate would have it, a couple of months before I was supposed to pack up my bags and head out west, I had an extremely bad horseback riding accident where I basically ‘90 degreed’ my femur (you know it’s bad when the paramedic cries), which resulted in an emergency surgery, a metal rod from my hip to my knee and multiple pins, bed rest for a month and learning to walk again over the next year.

If you know me (and my parents definitely know this) I’m also very stubborn, so I was determined to still move to Alberta and start my program. I packed up everything (read: my mom packed up everything as I sat and watched helplessly) and we flew across the country to move me into my dorm room. Everything was challenging. I was given the ground floor of my dorm but hobbling around campus on crutches in the winter, with my books, laptop and camera gear proved extremely challenging and painful. I wasn’t in a good place mentally and was on pain killers to get through the day. I was away from friends and family and after a couple of months I realized that it just wasn’t a good time in my life and that maybe, although I enjoyed all of these things individually, it wasn’t meant to be my career.

Kate Campbell

 

I packed everything back up, tail between my broken leg(s) and headed back to Ontario. Now not only had I chosen to not go to University like all of my friends had done and as I was told I ‘should’…I was also a college dropout. To say that I felt broken and lost was an understatement.

Fast forward a couple of months and I was back home, sitting at the same kitchen table where my parents had let me know that I had their unconditional support no matter what. My mom slid a newspaper article across the table to me, casually mentioning that she thought this course would be something that would be really appealing to me. It was an article advertising a Women In Skilled Trades course offered out of The Centre for Skilled Trades in Burlington, Ontario. It was a three month pre-apprenticeship program introducing 20 lucky applicants to the world of skilled trades, including carpentry, electrical, plumbing, fine carpentry and building code while also offering support with employability and workplace preparation, aimed at helping women feel comfortable in male-dominated work environments. It was also a fully paid program supported by the Government of Ontario in an effort to encourage more women to enter the trades.

Initially, I have to admit, I was a little hesitant because I had never considered a career path in the trades, because it had never been presented to me as a viable career path. But something clicked in my mind as I thought it through. I would be working with my hands, I would be active daily (and after having broken my leg and having the ability to walk taken away from me, this was of utmost importance), I would be challenged constantly and I would have opportunities to learn the basics but also to upgrade my skills until I was able to start my own company, if I wanted. Last but not least, I thought, even if I don’t want to pursue a career, I do want to own a home one day and would prefer knowing how to do things for myself instead of relying on someone else to do it for me. I was sold. There were over 200 applicants for the prestigious 20 spots. I consider myself very blessed to have been chosen as one of the women accepted into the program.

I can still remember my first week. Filling my tool belt with my new tools. Getting a new pair of work boots and using a circular saw for the first time. I. Was. Hooked.

That program allowed my confidence to grow amidst the loving support of 19 other women who were equally as enthralled with the work but intimidated at the idea of entering a workforce of mainly men. That course was my safe haven to learn as much as I could before I took my first shaky steps onto a real job site. Unlike the blissful ignorance I had as a girl playing baseball, I knew entering the skilled trades’ workforce would have its challenges. I knew I would stand out. But I also knew, from the moment that I picked up that saw and built a wall for the first time, that I had found something that I was passionate about and that it was worth it.

I was fortunate to have that Skilled Trades course under my belt (pun intended) because it really did help me get my boot in the door in the “real world”. I wasn’t walking onto a job site blind. I had skills – I knew how to use tools – so for any young girl or woman who is thinking about entering the trades, it is my hope that you also have access to a course. I love that mine was all women, but not everyone is that lucky.

I don’t know if I would have ever found myself in the trades if it weren’t for my parent’s encouragement and the WIST course. I believe everything happens for a reason and every single step leading to that moment contributed to my decision to enter the trades. And that’s why I like to tell the whole story.

Love and Light,
Kate


It is a tragedy of the first magnitude that millions of people have ceased to use their hands as hands. Nature has bestowed upon us this great gift which is our hands. If the craze for machinery method continues, it is highly likely that a time will come when we shall be so incapacitated and weak that we shall begin to curse ourselves for having forgotten the use of the living machines given to us by God. -Mahatma Gandhi

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Taking Off the Mask (and not the one you’re thinking about)

For as long as I can remember I have journaled. I can even recall, as a very young girl of 5 or 6, receiving my very first diary as a gift. I was SO excited. It was white and pink (as most young girls things were at the time and still are – much to my chagrin – more on my thoughts about that in a later post) and I can still remember its ornate golden lock and clasp. It was all mine and I was so excited to have a place where I could write.

I remember journaling half sentences – misspelled words and all – about everything and anything in my life. Many things I wrote about I didn’t understand, some I did, but I wrote anyway. I wrote about my grandpa passing away (I didn’t really understand but could still feel the heavy sadness surrounding me) and I wrote about my Aladdin Soundtrack on tape (yes, tape – as in music, on tape) and my bright yellow walkman that I had and loved because it gave me the freedom to listen to music any time I wanted…and I wrote about anything that popped into my mind, caught my attention or piqued my curiosity.

English was my favourite subject in school (other than gym – I’m a tomboy and super sporty so gym wins every time) and I loved writing so much that initially I thought that I wanted to be a photojournalist for National Geographic and (little known fact) I even went to school for it at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT), which at the time, had one of the only Photojournalism programs in Canada. (In another blog I’ll also address why I didn’t end up in Photojournalism…life has some interesting turns and this was one of them)

All of this to say that I’m starting a blog…about, well, everything.

I’ve been privately journaling for years but when it came to thinking about writing and putting it out there for the world to see, I either never felt the need, didn’t make the time or to be honest, mostly felt like I didn’t have something valuable to say.

The funny thing is, I actually think everyone has something valuable to say but much like myself, feel they aren’t good enough, aren’t smart enough, aren’t interesting enough, to share themselves with the world. I believe most of us walk around with masks on (and I’m not talking about the medical masks we all now wear because we’re in the middle of a global pandemic). The mask I’m referring to is something we have all been wearing way before the pandemic began – maybe even since we could start thinking for ourselves – for our own self-protection and self-preservation in a society that asks us to fit in, sit down, don’t be too loud, don’t stand out. So we wake up daily and put our mask on because to take it off and be truly ourselves seems incredibly scary and utterly impossible. Sometimes I think we wear our masks so long that we really do believe that’s who we are.

I’ve been doing A LOT of reflecting since my dad passed away two years ago and I’ve found that whenever I share the realness of my life, my happiness, my grief, my weirdness aka my uniqueness, my mistakes and in reality, whenever I take the mask off and share “me”, the real ME, I feel so much more connected , big picture, to humanity and life in general. I believe we all yearn for connection, to be seen and to be understood. I know I do.

So here’s to taking my mask off and to a new chapter of sharing…the good, the bad, the goofy and everything in between.

Love and Light,
Kate


Ps: Here’s one of my favourite poems that I read periodically to remind myself to let my own light shine <3

Text on paper

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