There are MANY jobs that women can do just as good as men. From being a firefighter, lawyer, mechanic, and even construction site worker. PrettyNPaint, owned by Aaliyah Sahar talks with us about not limiting ourselves to just a certain category of jobs and how she got her start in the industry.
DELUX: What made you want to start a business in a predominantly male industry?
PnP: Initially due to the fact that I wanted to spend more time with my father, I came up with the idea of learning how to tape which is also my father’s business. I figured maybe we could spend more time that way in him teaching me the taping trade. He told me “but you’re a girl.” I didn’t agree with his thoughts and still pushed him to teach me anyway. I’m the type of person when challenged, I personally make it to my business to overcome it. So he finally decided to give me a shot and in the mist of me working and becoming good at it, I also had a mentor that took the time to teach me a wall painting as well. I was learning simultaneously how to tape and paint at the same time. As a journey woman, I decided to make this my business noticing that I was the only female around, especially as a ”minority. I started out at $10/hour and after becoming a journey woman, I made $30/hour at 20 years old. After mastering my craft, it became my livelihood. After working some years in the union, I felt stagnant. Yes there were opportunities where I could’ve became a foreman on someone’s job but I didn’t think that was enough for me. The challenge was dying, saying to myself “what would be my next step?” In my younger days, I had a rebellious spirit who didn’t like conforming to working for others. This frame of mind forced me into entrepreneurship. Lastly, I wanted to get more women into this field. I’m not discriminating,but I diligently all the time encourage women to get into construction. I’m currently hiring more people. I’ve started an apprenticeship program bringing awareness to this trade, in hope that women feel that they have more options instead of working at a McDonald’s or something typical and average. That’s how I got started and I’ve been moving up every sense.
DELUX: How long have you owned your own business?
PnP: The year 2010 is when I received my LLC as a gift. A friend of mine in North Carolina took an interest in me talking about wanting to start my own business. In a simple phone conversation, he asked me if I had a business, what would i call it. I told him, “well, I am pretty in paint,” so he said that should be the name of my company, so I named it PrettyNPaint. As a mother one of the things that was really killing my spirit is the fact that I had to leave my son early in the morning to get on someone else’s job. It was hurting my relationship with my child because I couldn’t be there for his plays and field trips. It was really driving me crazy that I was on someone else’s time. So the driving force for me truly to pull away from being in the union and starting my own company was the fact that I really wanted my own time to be a mother. I’ve been a full-fledged entrepreneur and working for myself for 6 years.
DELUX: Growing up, were you pretty crafty and good with your hands?
PnP: Actually I was! As long as I can remember, at age 5 or 6, I would play in my parents basement and I had a Lego City set. I had a hospital, gas station, a fire station, a space station, equally a whole entire city. I looked forward to getting an other Lego set every year for my birthday. I used to have pet mice that I would let run through my Lego City. But truthfully did I ever think that I would start up an actual company and be a contractor to help build houses for real? Absolutely not. I was supposed to be Beyoncé and to this day I am a little bit salty that she’s living my life LOL. But at the end of the day, I believe that God blessed me with a gift and I’m not unhappy with where I am. As a matter of fact, I am diligently on a daily basis happy with promoting my business. Everyday I enjoy networking. Recently at Ball Park Village, while everyone was wearing Cardianls Gear, I was purposely wearing a PrettyNPaint shirt.
DELUX: Since you paint, have you thought about painting pictures and selling them?
PnP: No, truthfully my artistry is displayed in my work. Going into a house where the walls are old and falling down, I literally go from start to finish transforming it back into new and beautiful. I enjoy seeing something old and revamping it and making it vibrate again. The transformation process to me is my artwork.
DELUX: Do you hire women to get the job done or do you have men working for you as well?
PnP: Without being discriminatory, my mission and goal is to bring more women into the construction field. Therefore, I would love the opportunity building a team of women who are capable of doing the job. I have hired men and currently have two working for me. There needs to be a balance, certain things physically a man can do better than a woman like carrying tall ladders. I think women have an eye for detail and I would love to incorporate that gift into PrettyNPaint. Being that my motto is finish to perfection, I value the perfection part because the quality of work people put out nowadays is not sincere, being that they do it or the money and not the quality. I am very sincere about my clients being happy and I try to be as close to perfect as I can.
DELUX: What are all the services you provide?
PnP: The service PrettyNPaint provide is taping (drywall finishing), painting (interior & exterior) which is the bulk of the name and final cleaning. I’m not sure if I want to branch out into industrial because it is huge but I would enjoy the opportunity one day if possible. Outside of painting is the final cleaning which is when all the work is done and you have a tenet or someone coming in to occupy the space.
DELUX: Are your customers mainly homeowners or do you serve small businesses as well?
PnP: We do residential and commercial which services everyone. I’m trying to go as high as I can in this business, even if that means branching out of St. Louis. I have residential clients but I also work on apartment complexes and subdivisions. Having companies such as Doorway Housing as an ongoing client, which provide housing for him people who have HIV and AIDs, these are the type of projects I enjoy being on the most.
DELUX: What is the hardest part about your job?
PnP: I look at every scope of work as it comes. A hard job would be more so be based off the conditions instead of how much work I have to get done. In doing residential and commercial work, conditions can range from super cold in the winter and not having any heat in the building, to the middle of summer when it’s burning up and there is no air condition. A hard job is when the amenities aren’t available in a property which makes the conditions non-favorable.
DELUX: What is the busiest time of year for you?
PnP: For the construction trade, it’s always been the spring. Winter time is most difficult, because it’s harder to maneuver in certain situations in the cold. Outside of that, I have been building my clientele to where we can still work in the winter depending on the type of job it is. So yes, there is a time where work is slower due to the season but I’m trying to work it out to where we have consistent work throughout the year.
DELUX: Would you consider your industry competitive?
PnP: That’s a hard question because as of right now PrettyNPaint is legitimately the only taping and painting firm in St. Louis that is certified as a double minority business. There are a lot of companies out there but for some reason St. Louis minority owned businesses don’t have longevity. Advancing through a company working as a laborer, I’ve always been able to keep my ears open to what my bosses went through in regards to both their successes and downfalls. As a business owner, I try to avoid the pitfalls. It’s kind of like a crawl before I walk, walk before I run type of thing. Most people look at their businesses as their babies. When they’re growing, nurturing, encouraging and going to put their businesses out there, it’s like they’re raising their baby. I’m at a stage right now where I can share what I’ve built and the process it took to get to this point. I encourage others to follow their dreams and aspirations. I wouldn’t look at another company as competition, but more so as “let’s collaborate.”
DELUX: What message do you like to send in your message?
PnP: “Finish To Perfection” is my motto, but if I truly had to send a message, it would more on the lines to unify the community. St. Louis, in my eyesight, is not the most favorable when it comes to our community life. I would like to do use PrettyNPaint to catapult the power of women. I believe that everything starts with a woman, I may be bias but in certain situations women have mastered the law of attraction. We are the ones who are helpmates to the men in our lives. Women are the mothers and first teachers to children. The power in building up a community, I believe it would start with driven women. Encouraging one another and deciding to discourage negativity would bring about tremendous change. So what my message will be with PrettyNPaint is unifying women first.
DELUX: What are some other services you would like to offer in the future?
PnP: I would like to go beyond the final cleaning and get into real estate where I am owning property, going in and fixing them up myself and renting them out. When you get into the construction field, you meet all sorts of people talented in plumbing and carpentry and everything that goes into making a property a home. I even like designing, which I currently do and hopefully by the end of the year I would own my first piece of property.
DELUX: What plans for the future do you have for PrettyNPaint?
PnP: I would love to team build which I am currently doing. I want to have a workforce to where people enjoy coming even though it is a “hard task” in regards to the physicality of the work. I do believe that a enjoyable work environment can propel a company. If someone is excited and enjoy doing what they’re doing, they’re going to do it to perfection. The great thing about it is also getting paid at the end of the week. So my goal is to establish a health and enjoyable work environment which will ultimately help with emotional and self esteem issues.
DELUX: That’s good that you want to provide that sort of resource in your company. Thank you for taking the time to speak with us.
You can like her page on Facebook @PrettyNPaintLLC and also book services.