Tuesday, March 28Welcome

San Diego’s Girlie Garage Shows How Women Can Be Their Own Auto Mechanics

Talena Handley’s road to starting a business called Girlie Garage began with her first car being stolen twice.

When she got her black 1999 Honda Civic back with missing parts, she didn’t want to call her ex-boyfriend to help put it back together.

So she decided to help herself by going to a driving school. increase.

This 34-year-old entrepreneur offers virtual consultations and creates educational videos to help everyday people learn about cars. A big part of Girlie Garage’s mission is to help women feel confident in their cars and not be abused at the garage.

When Handley started Girlie Garage in late 2020, the name was simple. As a one-woman show running this business, Girlie Garage represents who she is in a traditionally male-dominated industry.

“I love seeing the shock on people’s faces,” she said. “In this current situation, we are trying to break down the stigma we have created.

Last year, only 9.5% of those working in the auto repair and maintenance industry were women. According to 2021 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

But just like the 23-year-old Honda Civic (the car that started it all) named Esperanza, she’s okay with crushing expectations.

    Talena Handley in front of her first car, a black 1999 Honda Civic.

Talena Handley, 34, poses for a portrait beside her first car, a 1999 Honda Civic. Using phone, Zoom, and FaceTime to teach people how to fix their cars.

(Ana Ramirez/San Diego Union-Tribune)

Her black sedan lacks the glossy paintwork, a deliberate choice to deter thieves. But under the hood, she keeps it in pristine condition, packing tools in an organized mess.

“People don’t feel comfortable going to mechanics and literally don’t try to fix their cars. That’s why I’m in the business,” she said.

Handley is on both sides of the counter and understands how difficult it can be to approach an auto shop, especially for women.

Despite nearly 15 years of experience as a mechanic, she has overestimated her services in the garage and has responded to customers who have asked, “Do you have a man who can help me?” . when she worked in the parts department at Porsche.

Handley explained that people can end up overpaying for services if they don’t understand what’s wrong with their car or the repair. Her Chevy Traverse almost happened to be her friend who was told she needed $2,500 worth of repairs. She called Handley, worried that she would endanger her two children if the matter was not resolved. Together, they ended up fixing it themselves for less than $300.

It’s not an amazing circumstance, but just seeing the amount of pain it caused her friend was enough for Handley to make this her business.

So Girlie Garage isn’t a mobile mechanic shop, says Handley. It is about providing knowledge so that clients can help themselves.

“If women can feel safer and more confident on the road by overcoming this anxiety and actually fixing their cars, everyone in the community will be safer,” she said. I mean, it’s kind of a lofty goal, but I’m going to get there.”

Her business is recognized by the San Diego Area Chamber of Commerce for empowering and educating women about cars so they can be safer on the road. Handley has also turned to local startups and her community to grow her Girlie Garage through accelerator programs such as Stella Labs.

You can often find Girlie Garage through social media. Handley was able to connect with clients in San Diego County and the United States without leaving Linda Vista’s home.

For $60 for a 30-hour consulting session, Handley can help answer questions about your car — what’s making that weird noise? Is the repair estimate reasonable? Over the phone, Facetime, or Zoom. She said it’s a model that more people can comfortably use since the pandemic.

handle After years of working in the international racing competition, the Ferrari Challenge, and various jobs throughout the industry, I know what questions to ask to diagnose mechanical problems.

She also offers one-on-one sessions for $120 to teach people the basics of their car. For those who don’t like popping the hood and checking the oil or changing a tire is daunting, she walks you through how to do it.

Handley said that if your goal is to hand over the keys to a mechanic and not get involved, her services are not for you.

“I want someone who will take good care of my car,” she said. “I want someone who understands that knowledge lasts a lifetime.”

That’s exactly how Pacific Beach resident Hayley Watson felt after working with Girly Garage. Handley showed her how to replace the headlights on her 2011 Toyota Corolla. Watson was a necessary repair to emphasize night driving.

“It was very simple and not scary,” said Watson. “If I put my hand under the hood, I immediately think that I am going to cut or burn my hand.”

Watson said she felt supported along the way and empowered at the end as Handley showed her each step in a caring and unbiased manner.

In one-on-one sessions, Handley also teaches other skills, such as how to jack up a car and change a tire.

She patiently explains the catchy mnemonic “righty-tighty, lefty-loosey” over and over again and loosens the bolt. Handley can explain the technical dynamics behind power steering and make it understandable at the same time.

Making this knowledge more accessible and less intimidating is one of the things she tries to do with the online videos she makes.

Every week, Handley sits cross-legged on his bike and creates educational videos for YouTube and TikTok.

Handley cites her social media as a marker of how much her business has grown over the past two years. Her YouTube channel has garnered her 2,000 subscribers, and she said her viewership has more than doubled this year without spending money on her ads. rice field.

She earns some income from her online videos, but it’s still not enough to sustain her startup. Handley calls her old black Honda Civic her “office.” This is because she uses mobile for her mechanic’s job helping her pay the bills while growing Girlie Garage.

A common theme in her “how-to” videos is the words “replacement” and “repair.” In her “office” trunk, she keeps a compartmentalized plastic case with extra nuts and bolts she’s pocketed from the junkyard.

She uses the educational side of Girlie Garage to show people that they don’t have to throw away what works.

It’s a lesson I learned as a kid while helping my grandpa fix vintage cars, who was a member of the Model T Car Club. She recalls using power tools and wearing goggles at age 10 to help fix the rusty convertible her top of her Volkswagen Karmann her gear.

Now she helps people fix cars for a living, but Handley gets questions about all kinds of cars. But there is one question she often asks her. What’s your favorite kind of car?

“I treat cars the way I treat shoes,” she said. “There are various reasons, so I can’t narrow it down to just one.”

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