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Meet Mindy Otten-Chen

Get to know Matriarchy Build Pro Mindy Otten-Chen. Mindy is a carpenter and handywoman based out of NYC. After more than 10 years of experience she decided to focus her attention on providing friendly 1-on-1 services centered on taking the frustration and intimidation out of transforming your space into your home.

An Interview with Mindy Otten-Chen

What inspired you to become a handywoman and carpenter?

Ultimately I always attribute the root inspiration of me becoming a carpenter to a memory I had as a child going with my parents to site meetings as my childhood home was being built. There was an older kid on site who was probably the foreman’s son that was assigned to watch me while the adults talked. He showed me a nail and hammer and let me tinker a little. I realized that they were building my house and that I could also someday build a home with my own hands.

I was inspired to start Handymin Help for a few reasons.

  1. There are not enough Women-owned building trades businesses.
  2. There are so many types of folks who get discouraged from a career path in the trades, and I wanted an outlet to be able to coach them in both the hard and soft skills required to succeed.
  3. The skills gap is real which means that homeowners are having a harder and harder time finding quality trustworthy professionals to help them with their projects.

What professional skill do you use in your day-to-day most?

I think I use problem solving more than any other skill. Sometimes that means finding cost saving solutions for a client that has a dream with a budget. And other times that means diagnosing something that is broken and coming up with different ways to fix it. The beauty of carpentry is being able to make something imperfect look perfect, and I think the main skill required to do that is problem solving.

How do you inspire more women to get into the trades?

I belong to a few Facebook groups that support women who want to learn a trade. I offer as much advice as I can in the comments. But being in the groups I realized that I would love to be able to do more of it in person, so I’m hoping to make that one of the main focuses of my business soon. I met one person for coffee to offer career advice and found out recently that they applied to go to carpentry school, so I call that a win.

Matriarchy Build Pro Mindy Otten-Chen

What skill are you excited to learn next?

I am really enjoying learning the business side of the trade although it can be overwhelming at times.

What projects are you taking on in your own time? Do you DIY at home?

These days I think all my home time is dedicated to the ultimate DIY project, my 9mo old baby, haha. It would be a dream to own something in NYC one day and fix it up for myself.

What’s in your toolbox that you can’t live without?

I can be like MacGyver with my utility knife. I mean I love all of my tools and can’t live without any of them, they each have a special use, but I will say that the oscillating multi tool is definitely one of the most versatile tools you can have with you.

How do you spend your time when you’re not on the job?

Pre-pandemic I would go to the climbing gym and eat my way around NYC. These days my biggest hobby is hunting for vintage finds and reselling them.

Who do you want to shout out? Another woman in the trade:

Shout out to my good friend Mary Webb who I went through carpentry school with, is always great to talk shop with and is working on starting her own historic window restoration business in Montana.

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