Tradespeople by Emma Kaniuk

9 months ago by

We spoke with Akin’s Emma Kaniuk, to learn more about a directory proudly shining the spotlight on women and gender diverse people working in the trades industries, connecting them to customers looking for repairs, maintenance, or to start new projects.

Photo of Emma by Mark Smith

What was the catalyst to build Aotearoa’s first directory of women and gender diverse people working in the trades industries?

Tradespeople started as a response to a challenge my friends and I had: we were keen to support women in the trades when we wanted work done around our house, to service our cars, or bikes, or to sort stuff in the office — but we really struggled to find them. I got curious about the industry and where the women were, and started collating a spreadsheet of people I’d found… and realised that this was a resource that many people would love to have.

The directory outlines an aim to create positive social change and support economic growth for trade businesses owned by women and gender diverse people. How are you measuring the projects success?

The aim is to support businesses owned by women and gender diverse people through increased visibility and a direct connection to customers, and also to create a kinder, safer, friendlier place for everyone to live, work and practice their craft. The interest has been super positive already. From architects who’d like to work with more female builders, to homeowners who want to feel safe in their own homes, and women who love to support women-run businesses. A study by Double Denim found “New Zealand women influenced 80% of consumer purchasing decisions. They were in charge as they shopped for food, clothes, home renovations, insurance, and for phone and internet services [however…] women believed tradies and car dealers didn’t treat them as well as men, and neither did lawyers, banks and real estate agents. These services were often dismissive or patronising.” So there is a statistic we can test back against.

Women who are currently apprentices have also reached out to say that hearing about this directory has already changed the way they’re thinking about their own careers — they are now thinking about going out on their own or training further to start a business, knowing there will be an easy way to connect to customers who value their work. Which is incredible! To me this is already a measure of success, creating a career path and job pipeline.

In terms of quantifying change and success in a more business sense, we’re building a range of analytics into the directory so we can be razor sharp on understanding what’s happening and how people are using the directory, and we’ll continue to iterate and improve based on feedback and use.

Noting that the project is only just getting started! What have you discovered/learnt about women and gender diverse people working in the trades so far?

Only a small percentage of tradespeople in Aotearoa New Zealand identify as female — around 10%, with only 3-4% on the tools. There is almost no information about gender diverse people within the industry. Those statistics haven’t changed in a long time — although I’m hopeful, as the uptake of the government-funded apprenticeships is growing.

What can you tell us about the visual language for the project?

Simplicity is delivered through restrained use of type, grid and colour blocking, visually expressing the experience and adding a playfulness. It’s purposefully counter to what much of the other directories in this industry look like (actually, there was one directory of tradesmen that had stock imagery of women wearing very little clothing wielding large power tools as their homepage 🙄). It’s typographically led — and all about “the list”. I wanted it to be easy to use, to feel considered, to be something that the people listed on here would be proud to be associated with, and that could live comfortably within the communities and industries we want to collaborate with.

Who built the directory and what did your user testing & development look like prior to launch?

I’m working with Sarah and Ellyn Hui and their team at Meide Studio.

Their studio provides direction, technology and creative services across fashion, culture and music clients. They’ve been an excellent (and VERY patient!) sounding board, and are astute both in a technical sense as well as their understanding of people and cultural references. I couldn’t have done this without them.

A lot of user testing involved getting feedback on the language, our values, code of care — I’ve consulted over the past year with women, people from the trades industries and rainbow community, to ensure the directory was a safe and inclusive space. The platform as you see it now is a beta stage, we’re taking live feedback and delivering value early. The aim is to be responsive and continue improve it together with our community.

What was the most challenging part of the site build?

Working with Meide, it wasn’t! (Actually, probably me, getting my head around everything).

How can tradespeople get listed?

Check out the website for details, or email me at While we get up and running, it’s free to everyone who fits our criteria and wants to be listed.

And what is the process for customers looking to contract women and gender diverse tradespeople through the directory?

The directory has just gone live this week — we have 22 businesses listed already, and our key focus now is to build this up. It’s a listings only directory — all bookings are done directly with those people listed, but in one easy-to-use filtered list, you can find someone who is right for you. Visit us here and follow us over here to find out more about the rad tradespeople who make up this vibrant community.


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