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Woman at Work: Furniture Maker D’ondra Howard

What does a day in your work life look like?
I get up, take my kids to school, come home, make some coffee, see what projects I have coming up, and get supplies if I don’t have them. I either get them from Home Depot or a lumber yard, and get to work until I have to get my kids from school.

What made you start woodworking?
I’ve always wanted to use power tools, but was afraid to use them because I had no idea how. I saw someone on Instagram share how they were self-taught and thought to myself, “hmm, if she can get out there and do it, so can I.” The next morning I got up, got me a miter saw, some wood, and went to work.

What do you have to sacrifice to be good at what you do?
I have to sacrifice working an 8 hour schedule. Ultimately my time is mine, but I’m not punching in a time clock. I work from when I get up to when I finish or am at a good place to stop.

What are you great at, and what do you suck at?

I think I’m great at getting started and making sure I finish. Sometimes I don’t like certain ways a project goes and have to remember that it’s not going to be perfect and have to deal with imperfections but ultimately if I didn’t tell you I messed up, you wouldn’t know.

What scares you?
Hurting myself horribly while working. You always hear of horror stories or hear people tell you about the things that can go wrong and that’s something I’m always cautious about. I don’t wanna be missing any fingers.

What do you want people to know about being a woman in your field?
Women are hardworking and like to make sure the job is done correctly the first time. If we need to think on our feet, I feel we are good at problem solving and sometimes thinking outside of the box.

How do you encourage other women to start doing what you do?
Just start. Do it. Don’t try to have everything in order—just get a tool and make something. I bought things as I went, and I now have more tools than I have space for. It’s so cool to see yourself evolve.

Who’s a role model who helped you in your journey to where you are?
To be honest, it’s a lot of women on Instagram. The women who answer questions when asked, who cheer you on, and encourage you along the way.

If you could give your 20-year-old-self advice, what would it be?
Don’t give naysayers the satisfaction of getting to you. Take what they say, and if there’s any truth in it, make adjustments and keep it moving. Don’t dwell on the negative.

Discover D’ondra’s custom wood creations here. D’ondra’s pronouns are she + her.

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