Infl uential industry women | FOCUS

Kate Holderness, kbbreview100 member and director, Urban Kitchens, Preston

very successful beauty and hair salon. That industry was predominantly female, so I found it all a bit daunting entering what is a very male-dominated one. It was time to put the big girl pants on and try to be heard. And while the lads’ club attitude still exists – mainly in the older generation – the younger guys are now beginning to see that women can multitask and go the extra mile for business and home life. My advice to women is to grab the opportunities in this industry with both hands. It’s a changing industry, with many different career avenues, whether in design, as a rep or creating an empire of your own. You need to be tough and hold your own but let the creative side, practical advice and ideas fl ow. It’s a game of hardball played with soft tackles. I sometimes feel that a female designer can see the more practical side to a kitchen and this can clinch a sale rather than just the fi nal price. Yes, women are under-represented in the KBB


industry. I read many articles about successful men in the retail, manufacturing and the design areas.

y experience as a woman in the KBB industry has been an interesting one. I came to it after 14 years running a

But if they do, does it matter whether they are male or female? Isn’t it more a case of what they have to offer as a person?

In my experience, consumers react very favourably to a female designer. It’s all about reading the customer and assessing how to progress the journey. Females tend not to talk at people and tend to listen. But they can also play the poker game and talk a deal if the journey takes us in that direction. I would encourage any female to join our industry.

Functions laid on by large distributors tend to be things like ‘golf days’. I’m looking forward to a ‘spa day’ for the ladies. The industry will only change its attitudes over time, so it’s still a work in progress. As a female who works with four female designers out of a team of six, my mind-set is that the female infl uence and work ethic is a massive benefi t to this industry. Not every person, male or female, wants a role with signifi cant responsibility and commitment.

Natalie Peters, kbbreview100 member and designer, Kitchens Etc, Norfolk


have had a very positive experience as a woman in the KBB industry in the 20-plus years I’ve been part of it. In the past 10 years, I have had an abundance of tremendous support and encouragement and built some fantastic and diverse working relationships, networks and friendships – male and female.

My parents have always been my biggest supporters and champions, my dad especially, and they have always believed in me and pushed me to go for my dreams and never hold back. They have always treated me with respect and listened to my ideas and opinions. I

have also been

fortunate to receive excellent mentoring. Back when I started, it certainly was pre - dominantly

male -dominated, but this

has changed and we are seeing more women across a wide range of roles, many who are fl ying the fl ag for women in the industry. However, there is still a long way to go and I do think women have had to work harder to progress and be heard. My journey hasn’t always been smooth sailing. I’ve had challenges to overcome and self-doubt. When I was younger, I was often dismissed as being inexperienced and not credible, which was particularly challenging and frustrating. I defi nitely felt the need to

March 2021 ·

I feel strongly about encouraging more women to pursue a career in our industry. All of us have a part to play. More diversity and equality will only benefi t the industry

prove myself and still do to an extent. My advice would be to work hard and follow your dreams. Don’t be intimidated, challenge yourself and do what scares you. The road may not always be easy, but it will be worth it. I defi nitely think women are under- represented in the industry and even though we have come a long way, we still have far to go. We need to see more women across all levels – there should be more females in manufacturing and installation. I feel very strongly about encouraging more women to pursue a career in our industry. All of us have a part to play in this. More diversity and equality will only benefi t the industry. Women have a huge variety of skills and qualities and a high level of empathy, emotional under- standing and are good listeners – all key to our service.

We need to encourage more

people, from a younger age, to join the industry – making it an aspiration. We need more opportu nities, pathways and

industry-specifi c education.

Fantastic work is already being done within the industry to help enable this. The industry is changing, slowly but

surely, and is really starting to gain traction, becoming more open-minded and receptive to change. I think there are exciting and positive times ahead if we continue to progress, and promote and support change.

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It’s fast, it’s exciting, it’s fashion-based, it’s full of opportunities and it moves with the times. One thing I have learnt from the current situation is that customers have had to become fl exible. This, in turn, has helped us. Women can juggle home-schooling and home life around appointments on Zoom. They can make the appointments in the showroom and work from home on the paperwork side in their own time to make up the hours. It’s not a nine-to-fi ve job any more, now we have virtual tours on websites, click-and-collect sample services, home visits, etc. This has taken the showroom into the comfort of everyone’s homes, easing the pressure and making the day easier to manage. This can only be a good thing for females. I hope the future holds lots of opportunities now for women. We can go the extra mile and be the ones to see the job through. We are known for the art of multitasking. I’d say we are a good bet.

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