The new nationwide directory gives us all more choice when hiring, and benefits the industry as well.
Already half of design studio Akin and online pet-product store Dogdogdog, Auckland’s Emma Kaniuk has recently become wholly responsible for another business venture, Tradespeople. It shines a nationwide light on women and gender-diverse people working in the trades and gives people a choice when hiring tradies.
So, Emma, what was the catalyst for this idea? A small project turned large repair job at home a few years back meant I ended up with a reasonable-sized team on site — mostly men. It was my first experience of hiring tradespeople and coincided with me noticing that friends would often ask for recommendations for a female builder, electrician, plumber… but none of us knew how to find them.
You were able to apply your own trade as a graphic designer to establishing this brand — did you work with anyone else on the website? Sisters Sarah and Elly Hui and their team at Meide Studio built the online platform and made it so much better and smarter than I’d imagined. They believed in the idea from day one and helped me see the potential in it; what you see online now is a beta version that we’re developing.
What change do you hope to be part of in Aotearoa? Every time someone sees themselves represented, it means they’re part of the national story and that they matter and are valued — and that people like them can be too. When people from different genders or backgrounds are seen as the norm within the trades and not the token, we’ll start seeing more diverse, safer, healthier industries.
I haven’t be able to find any statistics on gender-diverse people, but women make up around 10% of people in the trades, with 3-4% hands-on, so those would be some great numbers to change! But it’s more than that — it’s also about how we treat each other when hiring and supplying these services, which is why we set out a ‘code of care’ for everyone using this site.
What kinds of tradies have signed up to your directory? ‘Trades’ is such an amorphous collection of jobs, so it was hard to define. I talk about it as work that requires advanced skills gained through on-the-job-experience like apprenticeships or vocational training. Some businesses we’ve listed sit slightly adjacent to this and I’m keen to widen people’s perception of what a trade job is. Right now, we have plumbers, electricians, builders, furniture-makers, gardeners, painters, upholsterers, environmental specialists — and a glazier, a roofer, a tiler and a piano tuner! We’re also looking for earthmovers, and people who can fix bikes and cars.