As a woman who absolutely dreads the idea of that “check engine” light in the dash, and after some pretty hellish experiences with every vehicle I’ve ever owned, I’ve vowed that when God blesses me with a few more coins, one of the first things I’m going to invest in is a driver. No lie.
But until that day comes, I’ll just be looking for better ways to not get swindled at the auto repair shop.
Patrice Banks, mechanic and creator of the Girls Auto Clinic, has helped me immensely. I met Patrice while perusing through some posts in a Facebook group I’m apart of. I saw her plugging her business and thought: I MUST TALK TO THIS PERSON!
After all, how many female mechanics do you know?
That’s what I thought.
So, I messaged her and asked to interview her for an article for BlackEnterprise.com as a way to highlight innovative women entrepreneurs during Women’s History Month.
After managing to get our schedules to sync, Patrice and I spoke over the phone for nearly three hours.
Her passion, charisma and determination were contagious. She spoke so enthusiastically about her visions, dreams and plans for Girls Auto Clinic, all while recalling how, just a few years ago, she didn’t know she’d be in this position.
And I couldn’t get enough. She was on to something.
As a former, self-professed “auto airhead,” Patrice became frustrated with the ways women (included herself) are treated in the auto industry, despite the fact that the majority of drivers in the US alone are women who pour $200 billion in the auto industry.
We’re all familiar with how male-centric the auto industry is at every touch point and women are actively discouraged from participating.
Marketing tells men they can get the performance, agility and sleekness of Porsches, Lambourghinis, and Corvettes as toys and what do we get marketed? A minivan. For the kids. For safety. For soccer games and groceries.
In fact, on the daily, we’re the victims of needless upselling, sleezy used car salesman tactics, all the while being in total oblivion about our own vehicles.
Patrice decided she was going to take matters into her own hands – literally. She decided that she’d create a place where women can feel comfortable, empowered and educated around cars instead of feeling inferior, fearful and helpless around them. So, she enrolled in classes to become a mechanic and auto technician. In fact, she was so passionate about her vision, that she worked as an apprentice for a couple of auto repair shops for free.
What’s more, so dedicated to perfecting her skills, she decided to sell her late model car for a hoopty on Craig’s list.
Patrice was my kinda woman. Fierce. Determined. Empowered.
She’s so committed to empowering and educating women about their vehicles that she free holds monthly auto workshops where she encourages women to get under the hood of their cars and learn the things necessary to preserve the health of their vehicles – like true #SheCanics ought to.
For those who can’t make it to Philly where she holds these workshops, you can buy her book, The Girls Auto Clinic Glovebox Guide. I have it and it’s my go-to manual for all my basic car care and maintenance.
Why? Because Patrice speaks to us in ways we can relate and she demystifies the repair and maintenance process, telling you which lights mean what and how you should prioritize repairs on your car (because sometimes that budget doesn’t allow for full repairs!)
But Patrice doesn’t just want to stop at monthly workshops or glovebox guides.
So, she needs your help. She’s launched a crowdfunding campaign to bring awareness around this vision, which can be found here.
And let me tell you, Patrice is the real deal. Our conversation was so rich and timely. In fact, I was going through another car woe during the time I spoke to her and she talked me through everything I needed to do and urged me to address the problem ASAP, instead of ignoring it (like some of us can do).
This is perhaps one of my favorite stories I’ve written for BlackEnterprise. Everything I’ve said here is only the tip of the iceberg to Patrice’s inspiring story. So, you should go check out the full article, here!
And again, please consider supporting Patrice’s vision for creating a brick and mortar home for Girls Auto Clinic.
What better way to close out Women’s History Month?