Jamisontown resident Catherine Cook is swapping her high heels for work boots after her COVID-19 induced redundancy pushed her to follow her carpentry dreams.
After the single mother of two was made redundant from her real estate job in March, she applied for over 100 jobs, desperate for any work to make ends meet.
With not much success and a lot of spare time on her hands, she began to focus on her side hustle business ‘Three Reasons – Everything Has Beauty’.
It was then that the ‘aha moment’ hit her.
“No one was hiring so I decided to focus on my little up-cycle business and realised I’d never been happier,” she said.
“As a single parent it was stressful but a blessing in disguise because it really made me realise how unhappy I was working in corporate jobs all my life and that I wanted to pursue carpentry.”
From then, Ms Cook’s quest began as she hit the phones contacting tradespeople local and beyond in the search for someone to give her a chance.
“I was either ignored or laughed at and asked why a girl would want to go into something like that,” she said.
Finally, she contacted Andrew Ciancio from AMK Property Maintenance who was willing to give her a go.
“He’s never treated me like a girl, he treats me like a worker,” she said.
“I think all businesses should give women a go who have drive and passion and are wanting to get into these industries because they can bring a new creative eye to the business.”
Now, for the past two months, Ms Cook has assisted on bathroom and kitchen renovations as well as general maintenance jobs.
She hopes to expand her own up-cycling business too.
“I now have thousands of dollars worth of corporate clothes in the wardrobe I’ll never wear again, so I guess I’ll have to wear them when I do the vacuuming or house chores,” she joked.
“I’ve definitely hung up my high heels for my pink steel cap boots once and for all.”
A graduate of Western Sydney University, Nicola Barton is a news journalist with the Western Weekender, primarily covering crime and politics.