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female mechanic

Identity

This all-female auto shop let's you get a mani-pedi while your car gets a tune-up

Their services are done by an all-female repair team, aka “shecanics.”

@girlsautoclinic/Instagram, @clutchbeautybar/Instagram

The future of auto repair is female.

If you ever find yourself ini Pennsylvania in need of auto repair and self care, look no further than Girls Auto Clinic.

At GAC, customers can not only get the usual car services—like oil changes, tire rotations, figuring out the reason behind a check engine light, etc.—they can enjoy free WiFi, snacks and beverages, countless books, and even a mani-pedi at the “Clutch Beauty Clinic” nail salon while they wait.

Plus, their services are done by an all-female repair team, aka “shecanics.” Honestly, what’s not to like?


The auto shop-beauty parlor hybrid is the brainchild of Patrice Banks, who began taking mechanic classes to protect herself from getting ripped off. Her feelings are not unfounded—men are statistically more likely than men to be condescended to or get overcharged. Shocking, I know.

“I was tired of feeling helpless and having to go talk to a guy,” she told the Int. Business Times. “I was afraid I was going to be taken advantage of.”

Having no luck in finding a female mechanic, she decided to become one herself. So she enrolled in night classes that would allow her to continue working as an engineer at DuPont.

Eventually, Banks would leave that job behind to start her own business to make auto repair less of a “chore.”

And that’s where the mani-pedis come in. Banks explained to NPR that “me and my girlfriend that I worked with at DuPont would go to this specific Jiffy Lube on our lunch break because there was a nail salon next to it. We'd drop our cars off and we'd walk next door and get our nails done while we waited.” And thus, the idea to combine the two was born.

But GAC also offers women more than a safe place to get a tune up and some pampering. It also offers car care memberships, car care education classes, and hands-on mechanic workshops for women looking to learn the skills for themselves. That way no one has to feel helpless.

For Banks, the biggest priority is making sure her customers feel safe. And her primary strategy for this is simple, transparent communication, knowing that if a mechanic can “hear, see, feel and smell” what’s going on under the hood, the customer can too.

“People are coming in, especially women, with that guard up. In order to get them to trust you, you have to let that guard down. So No. 1 is just listening to them and respecting their opinion. Looking at them when they're talking to you. ... Stand in front of them and talk to them, and I make sure they don't leave without feeling comfortable about spending their money,” she told NPR.

While Banks’ business idea might be one-of-a-kind, it is part of a bigger trend. More women are entering the auto repair industry than ever before. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women made up only 1.4% of the industry in 1999. In 2022, it shot to 12%. Just like with all things regarding gender inequality, there is still progress to be made. But we have made some pretty great strides.

While we’re at it, enjoy Banks’ Tedx Talk about disrupting the auto industry: