Woman at Work: Woodworker Denika Coakley

Ready for some inspiration? A few years ago, Canadian woodworker Denika Coakley was a single mom attending carpentry school and raising two toddlers. Here's how she stopped waiting to find her dream career.

What made you start doing the amazing things that you do?

I have painted murals on my own since I was six years old - God love my mom for allowing my creativity to shine! I started DIYing Pinterest things at 16 years old. I then went to school for carpenty as a mom of one…. Then graduated as a mom of two. That was a busy few years!

If you could give your 20-year-old-self advice, what would it be?

I would say, “Stop waiting and allowing society to make you feel like your dreams are wrong. Stop letting people in your life rule you and your decisions. I promise you that it will work out. The little baby girl your carrying in your body needs and deserves the strongest and happiest version of you. It'll be ok.”

Wow, that made me tear up thinking back!

What do you want people to know about being a woman in your field?

You need to be tough, yes, but you don't need to lose your femininity. I love makeup and nail polish and putting on a dress as much as I love sawdust and creating my pieces that turn my fingernails black.

What does a day in your work life look like?

It could be anything from consulting with a client on their future build, to down-and-dirty ripping wood boards and jointing them together, to the pretty parts of finishing and staging my pieces.

What are the top five things that are always in your pockets?

  1. Measuring tape
  2. Pencil
  3. Cellphone for media
  4. My bandana when jobs get REAL messy
  5. Snacks 😂


What would you tell other women who want to enter the trades?

Don’t wait until the time is right or the money is ok to step away from your job, or your kids are grown up. Do what you love now and watch how far passion can take you.

As a parent, I always think of the quote, "you were someone before you were their mom… and that person matters.”

Check out raw footage of Denika’s projects on Instagram and Youtube.

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