Ink&Iron Automotive – This All-Female Auto Repair and Restoration Shop Offers Customers a Little Sass and a lot of Bad Ass
It has been just two years since the official opening of Ink&Iron Automotive and in those two years this all-female repair shop has shown it is much more than just a “passing fancy.” At Ink&Iron, women “run the show,” and the color pink is more than just a clever nod to the all-female staff, it is a display of confidence, power, and comfort.
“Years ago when I dreamed of opening my own shop, I knew I wanted to create a shop where any woman could walk in and feel completely at ease,” founder and owner Hillary Noack explained. “The decision to paint our reception area pink was intentional. We wanted our female customers to know that our repair shop is welcoming–when you’re here you can feel heard, you can feel comfortable with the repair process, and ultimately you can feel good about your repair experience.”
Where did Noack come up with this female-friendly concept? It doesn’t take a stretch of the imagination to realize it was based on her own personal experiences, having spent more than 14 years in the automotive repair industry.
“There’s no arguing that auto body restoration and repair is a heavily male-dominated field. I have both seen and experienced my fair share of prejudice over the years.” In response, Noack decided to channel her extensive auto body repair and restoration training and her entrepreneurial efforts for “good not evil!”
Noack had a vision for Ink&Iron that reached beyond simply owning and operating an all-female auto body shop, it included a desire to use the shop for education and training, to offer opportunities for young women to explore their interest; to apprentice; and ultimately to offer women an entry point into the automotive repair trade.
“I was the only female in the School of Transportation program when I attended Centennial College, which was unfortunate because Centennial has a spectacular program but it is tough to overcome the stereotype that automotive repair is a ‘man’s job’” Noack said.
Noack’s own personal start in the automotive repair arena may have been based more on necessity than desire. “When I was 17 I bought a used, 30-year-old Oldsmobile and it needed work. I approached our local auto body shop and asked if I could do a high school co-op to learn to do the repairs myself,” Noack said. The auto body shop agreed and the rest is history –“I loved the ‘art’ of auto body repair and the ability to transform and change the way a car looks.”
Noack’s career path took her from co-op to apprentice; from college training to a licensed auto body and collision damage repair technician; from employment with two of the most reputable auto body shops in Canada to employment as a college auto body instructor; from aspiring entrepreneur to her role today as a business owner, mentor, and advocate for women seeking careers in automotive repair trades.
Ironically, the skills that best lend themselves to a top-rated expert auto body technician are those that women typically favor. “I often hear from my male customers how they feel like women are better suited for the auto body trade–we are patient and extremely attentive to detail, as well as having a good eye for color. If we can just get over the stereotype that this is a man’s trade I feel like women can really excel!”
And that’s where the rubber meets the road with this crew. “At Ink&Iron Automotive our primary focus is to provide top-quality work—it always comes down to the work,” Noack said. The novelty of Ink&Iron’s all-female crew could easily become its Achilles heel if the shop’s repair and custom work wasn’t excellent.
“I always tell women interested in automotive repair careers to take the time to build their skills—you want to do the best quality work possible—it’s your name and reputation on the line,” Noack explained.
When it comes to the Ink&Iron all-female workforce of techs and painters, there is one common thread that “binds.” According to Noack, “We have to be fearless and confident, we have to believe in ourselves when others don’t, and we have to be bold and say we’re girls kicking ass in a male dominated field!”
If you’re interested in checking out Ink&Iron Automotive’s work, including the progress on their 2017 SEMA build—a 1994 Pontiac Trans Am — visit their Facebook or Instagram, or if you’re in the Toronto area and are in need of an auto body repair, stop by the shop at 6-5900 Dixie Road, Mississauga, Ontario.