Hi Genderbuzzers, my name is Hattie Hasan and I am the founder of Stopcocks a company of Women Plumbers and heating Engineers based in the foothills of the Pennines in the U.K and this is my story:
Back in the day ….
In 1990 I decided to reinvent myself from teacher to plumber. I was fed up of the increasing lack of control I had of my work-life as a teacher and I’d always loved problem solving and fixing things, and being a water sign, plumbing was a natural fit for me.
When I first qualified as a plumber, I was living in Leeds and I contacted every plumbing company in the Leeds Yellow Pages asking for a job but I didn’t even get a single interview. Although that was disappointing, being a resourceful kind of woman, I decided to employ myself and started out on my journey as ‘Stopcocks’ and a self-employed Woman Plumber.
In 2006, I attended an Entrepreneur’s event in London, and over lunch we were invited to write a short summary about ourselves and our business. Imagine my surprise when I was asked up on the stage to speak! Everyone was so enthusiastic about what I was saying that there and then I vowed to create ‘An army of women plumbers’ who’d make a difference in the industry and in people’s homes. That’s when I created the idea of Stopcocks Women Plumbers’ – YEP I love the name too ;-). Little did I know what I’d started! Ha!
Providing great customer service is our mission
What drives me is that I know that women are as good as men at plumbing and gas engineering, and I also know that we’re often the answer to householders prayers. At Stopcocks, we pursue excellence and stand out by providing great customer service. Our plumbers are beloved by householders who tell us they’re sick of plumbers who don’t call back, don’t turn up on time, who are patronising, don’t do a good job, take ages to complete jobs – if at all, and don’t clean up their mess.
When they call Stopcocks we are thrilled to help them and for us it’s reputation-building and customer satisfaction at a stroke. WIN-WIN
So what are the barriers to women entering the Plumbing Industry?
The first barrier to a woman becoming a plumber is usually the training system and the perception of the industry as a ‘man’s industry’. Training to become a plumber is usually in a classroom full of teenage boys with careers advisors in schools often telling girls who want to plumb that they’re ‘too good for that”. Too good for what? – having a satisfying career that they’re suited to? We have to end not only this gender stereotyping at school but the fact that in many schools everyone is being channelled towards Uni and desk jobs where they can keep their hands clean. Most people who end up in trades jobs didn’t choose them. And this is what I think is partly responsible for the poor service and poor reputation of these industries.
When I started at college all those years ago, there wasn’t even a ladies loo for students and I had to use the staff toilets! I also had to deal with posters of naked women in the workshop; this was common in those days. I’m pretty thick skinned so I had a quiet chat with the tutor and asked him how he thought I felt with everyone in the workshop knowing that’s what I had under my T shirt! – next day the pin-ups were gone.
The apprenticeship system in the U.K also doesn’t work for adult women. Actually most female trainee plumbers are adults reinventing themselves following unsatisfying careers in other sectors. They have bills to pay and an apprentice’s pay doesn’t allow for that. It’s Stopcock’s aim, through excellence and visibility in the plumbing industry to increase the number of women who want to plumb in every age group.
Our Future is the Stopcocks Franchise!
In March 2017 Stopcocks Women Plumbers launched as a franchise
Since 2006 when I started to make myself visible online to be able to begin to achieve my goal of the army of women plumbers, I’ve been receiving requests for help from women wanting to be plumbers. We wanted to help them all and after many trials and tribulations finally in 2017 we set up the only national franchise of Women Plumbers – anywhere!
When you become a Stopcock franchisee, we provide office and support systems to minimise your admin and paperwork – most people have no idea how much ‘off the job’ work is needed to make and run a successful business We have a great supportive community of plumbers and provide professional technical mentoring, promotion and marketing to get customers flocking in.
Come and meet us at the annual Women Installers Together conference in July 2018
In September 2017 Stopcocks partnered with pipe and under floor heating manufacturers Polypipe Building Products and ‘Heating and Plumbing Monthly’ Magazine to run the world’s first national conference for women plumbers and gas installers. It was so successful it’s going to become a yearly event. The 2018 conference will be on 4th July at The Building Centre, Bloomsbury, London. I will be speaking again this year, along with Olympic Gold Medalist Anna Hemmings and we will hear stories from other women plumbers about their careers and how it has brought them joy and independence.
So, are you a woman, interested in becoming a plumber?
If you have any questions about becoming a plumber, or you’re interested in joining Stopcocks as a franchisee, hiring a Stopcocks Plumber or even attending the 2018 Women Installers Together Conference, then don’t delay – contact us today. We’re listed right HERE on the Genderbuzz® directory!