Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Ms. Fix-It: Okla. Women Expose, Bridge Industry's Wide Gender Gap

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Ms. Fix-It: Okla. Women Expose, Bridge Industry's Wide Gender Gap

Article excerpt

Marsha Watkins co-owns RainTech Gutter Solutions with her husband, but when customers call the store, most assume she is a receptionist.

"A lot of men don't want to hear what I have to say because I feel they think I don't know what I'm talking about," she said. "Some people we deal with don't take me as serious as they do my husband."

The home-improvement industry traditionally has been male- dominated. But over the years as more women became homeowners, many grew an interest in the field.

Watkins' business is one of more than 200 vendors at the Tulsa House Beautiful Show taking place Friday through Sunday at the QuikTrip Center, 4145 E. 21st St.

Denise Seyller said before she became co-owner of Backyard Depot Inc. she worked at an investment firm. She said she always loved ponds and waterfalls, and when she and her husband saw a lack of landscape stores they decided to start their own.

Initially learning all the technical aspects of building backyard products was difficult, and Seyller said she had to become a biologist and a plumber all at once.

But she said the real challenge came from working in a fairly male-dominated field.

"Imagine trying to explain how to build a pond when you're a female to a male," she said. "I learned not to get offended and to speak with authority."

Sandy Shoemaker, president of Pave-Stone Store of Oklahoma, has been in business since 1998 and said she hasn't faced too many issues working with male counterparts. She said that like any business, it requires an understanding of the product and knowledge of a certain lingo.

"I sell the product and get the word out there so I have to be competitive," she said. "The commercial world can be tough, so you have to be tough."

Norma Vally, host of the Discovery Home Channel show Toolbelt Diva, is the featured guest at the House Beautiful Show. …

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