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My Trade Story With Ashleigh Hiemstra

My Trade Story With Ashleigh Hiemstra

I am really excited to share our My Trade Story today, as Ashleigh’s story is so unique! I especially love the support that Ashleigh received from her family, very heartwarming. I hope you enjoy Ashleigh’s story as much as I do.


In my teens I used to joke with my dad, that I would just go work with him if I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do after I finished school. Growing up, I loved going to sites with my dad and seeing the houses being built and imagine them being finished.

At 15 I was accepted into Fashion Design at TAFE, to follow my mum and sisters footsteps. However, I wasn’t 100% about it. So I completed year 11 & 12 instead. Throughout the last years of high school I was still keen on fashion and was leaning towards fashion photography.

After year 12, I had a gap year, I ended up doing my cert 3 in childcare and worked six months. During this time I decided that I definitely wanted a career in building. I decided to apply for the diploma of builders registration at TAFE. My mum, who is not only a fashion designer/dressmaker was a registered builder when I was a child. I used to sit at her drawing board drawing my own house plans and imagine one day building them.

I studied my diploma of builder’s registration full time for 2 years. During this time studying I realised the best way for me to gain onsite experience was to get a trade. My dad however wanted me to go into drafting, my argument was the fact that when I come to applying for my builder’s registration that I won’t have any on site experience.


During TAFE holidays, I did work experience with my dad and his carpentry team. It was different. I still remember how much I used to struggle moving timber, planks and trestles. I was so sore and tired when I got home that I would passed out on the couch by 6pm.

At the end of 2010 I had completed my Diploma.

In 2011, at 20 years old, I started my apprenticeship in carpentry and joinery.


My dad took me on like any other employee, I was to complete a 3-month trial before signing up as an apprentice. The training provider was out one day to sign up one of the other boys. I was a part of the initial meeting to find out information about the apprenticeship. She said that If I had already lasted a month that it was likely that I would see it through. So I was signed up that day.

During my apprenticeship, I was faced with some self-doubt, questioning myself if I could do it, I found it hard to be accepted by some of the employees and was often over looked for some tasks. I pulled through it and I was determined to get to the end. In January 2014, I completed my apprenticeship. I was so excited when my trade certificate came in the mail. The feeling that I had done it!

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I have now been a qualified carpenter for 3 years. I am still working alongside my dad. I do all the accounts for the business so I am very much involved in the running of the company. I have started to source and quote for the company.

I am currently working towards getting my builders registration. Once a registered builder I want to make use out of my carpentry skills and knowledge, and specialise in new build timber frame construction and 2nd storey renovations. ( WA is still majority double brick with tin/tile roof.) My inspiration comes from American weatherboard homes and Hampton style homes

Being a female tradesman has not been an easy task. Especially working in such a physical demanding trade. I know my limits, I will only carry timber and beams that I know that I can handle, there is no point in hurting myself. I’ve had to prove that I can do it. I have worked hard to get to where I am. Some people are still so shocked to see female trades on site. I always get asked do I enjoy being a carpenter? my answer is always the same, I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t enjoy it.

If you are interested in learning more about Ashleigh’s story, you can visit the family website here, or find them on Facebook here.

Thank you for sharing your story, filled with grit and determination Ashleigh. I know I’ll be hearing more about your accomplishments for years to come!

Are you a Women working in any capacity in the construction industry, would you like to share your story? Please email me at [email protected] for more details.

Nicole xxx

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