In this edition of Women in Business, women were interviewed who are employed in industries generally dominated by men or in a position that was historically held by a man.
These women share their stories of underrepresentation in their field and their leadership roles – in the hope that their persistence and success will become the common thread for the next generation of businesswomen, so that they continue to break the deadlines. glass ceilings and achieve their goals.
Women in Business shows who the movers and shakers are in Kelowna and that there is always a space to share stories of successful women.
After 13 years of taking someone else’s lead in a male-dominated industry, Jennifer Kammonen was ready to go it alone, proving that women are more than capable of achieving any goal.
In 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic brought the world to a halt, Kammonen launched Eco Naturals Aquatics, pool and spa maintenance.
“When I was younger we lived in a small town and there were few jobs, but there as a really big pool company and if you were lucky you could do the maintenance of the pool, ”she said. “In the summer you had to clean the pools, earn a lot of money and life was good.”
Most teens quit their summer jobs in high school, and Kammonen did too, but years later the pool industry pulled her out.
She completed eight years of post-secondary education, from a paralegal to obtaining her certificate in art and design. Nothing she studied would apply to the swimming pool maintenance industry. Instead, it was the years in learning a business while she was working that gave her the ability to start her own business.
“Pool maintenance basically starts with cleaning the pool, because everyone wants a clean pool. But, on a daily basis, you don’t just clean the pools, you make sure all the equipment is working properly, from service and maintenance to checking the heaters.
Although she started cleaning swimming pools, Kammonen quickly realized that this was not what she wanted to do every day, she preferred to do what men in the industry have to do, from mechanics to electricity. After following some of her colleagues, she will later take on the roles and responsibilities of what she calls dirty work.
“It’s really dirty stuff and I can see why it doesn’t attract more women to the industry, but I really like it. Tome [learning how to use] a computer is hard work, but i can stare at a green swimming pool and put a smile on my face because i can’t wait to fix it, ”she said.
In her many years in the business, Kammonen said she only met one female owner of a pool and spa maintenance business that she considered a mentor. She watched her run a business and showed her what is possible, despite the perception that it is a male dominated industry.
And, two years ago, that’s exactly what she did. Moving to Kelowna, Kammonen worked for another pool maintenance company before establishing her own, with what she calls an eco-friendly or Okanagan-friendly appeal.
Each day, Kammonen will visit between 10 and 20 homes to clean pools, check equipment, or provide direction on how to operate the spa.
“I’ve shown that you don’t need two big guys to come into a backyard to do the job that an experienced, knowledgeable person can do. “
Although COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on many Okanagan businesses, Kammonen has only grown his own much faster than expected. She said that due to people staying at home more to slow the spread of COVID-19, it meant they were outside and in their pools and hot tubs.
“Sometimes at first when I walk in the garden they would be shocked that I was a woman; they would look to see if there was someone else with me and when there wasn’t, they would offer help. Usually they are used to seeing two people doing the job. But, by doing it right, the smart way pays off and they are impressed. “
She also credits the ability to build relationships with her clients, saying it is a privilege to be allowed to meet their family and pets in other people’s homes.
Although she currently has no employees, this Kelowna business owner would like to mentor a young woman who is interested in the industry.
“I want women to know that it’s an option for them to work in this industry because the only skill you need is common sense,” Kammonen explained.