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First Friday Interview: Patrice Banks of Girls Auto Clinic

FF interview GAC picAt Philly PR Girl, we’re always on the search for organizations and resources that empower and inspire women. What Patrice Banks and the ladies at Girls Auto Clinic offer to their clientele is more than just standard automotive services – they’ve initiated a supportive community for women united under the title #sheCANic that teaches females to understand and become more comfortable with their vehicles. In her signature pair of red high heels, Patrice Banks offers advice and knowledge through events, workshops, and her handy GAC Glove Box Guide. We love how Patrice advocates for women within the automotive industry, and were glad to hear more about her story and the awesome work she is doing!

Philly PR Girl: Tell us about yourself and your interests before you went to school for automotive technology!

Patrice Banks: I was an engineer and manager working for DuPont in Wilmington DE. I spent my entire 12 year career working for them. I was your typical single girl living in the city; hanging with friends, trying new restaurants, exercising in the park, traveling. I also helped raise my nieces so I was somewhat of an aunt-mom. A cool one though 😉

Philly PR Girl: Was there a specific, light-switch moment when you determined to learn auto tech, or was it a series of events that led you to making the decision?

Patrice Banks: There was a light bulb moment. I was blogging tips for women that typically men know how to do or we have to pay men to do. Tips like, how to fix a leaking toilet, or how to invest money. I wanted 100 blog ideas before I started so I was surveying women everywhere asking them what they wanted to learn. Overwhelmingly the answers I got back were, “car maintenance.” Or “I wish I knew more about my car so I’m not taken advantage of.” I started looking for a female mechanic to help me blog tips for women and I couldn’t find one. That is when the light bulb went off. I was going to start a business in auto repair for women. I enrolled in school for automotive technology and started creating a vision for a company that educates and empowers women through their cars. So here I am today!

Philly PR Girl: What’s your favorite thing about working on cars?

Patrice Banks: I like diagnostic of cars problems. So if a customer has a complaint something isn’t work or isn’t working properly, I like to chase down the culprit. I was the corporate failure analyst at DuPont for 5 years so I have plenty experience in root cause failure analysis. I use that knowledge and experiences to help me determine how and why a car part failed. It also helps me teach other women because I can easily and relatably break down how cars work and how they break.

Philly PR Girl: What can women do to become more confident and informed when making decisions and purchases related to their own vehicles?

Patrice Banks: We need to change the relationship they have with their car. We will take care of a $300 bag better than a $25,000 car. We treat our cars the same way we feel our significant others treat us. Our cars are constantly communicating with us and need attention and care, but we have been conditioned to ignore our cars because we don’t understand them. And we fear what we don’t understand. Becoming knowledgeable about your car, how it works, and how to take care of it is the most important thing for women. The confidence that comes along with understanding your car and knowing you are doing the right thing for your car is very empowering. However, there are very limited resources to help women become educated and empowered through their cars. That is what Girls Auto Clinic is here to do.

Philly PR Girl: What might professionals in the industry (whether that’s mechanics, car salesmen or even the DMV) change in order to better accommodate and support the female demographic?

Patrice Banks: Hire more women to work for them. Support and develop women in their careers. There needs to be more women in positions of power with the ability to make positive changes. The industry does not reflect it’s number on customer, women. It is hard to get a man to understand the emotional need that drives a woman to buy a car or approve a repair service. The discrimination towards women in the auto industry is ghastly!

Philly PR Girl: What adjectives would you use to describe your feelings surrounding the growing popularity of your business and the #sheCANic community?

Patrice Banks: Grateful, Blessed, Tremendous, overwhelming, extraordinary.

Philly PR Girl: Do you have any plans in the works that you can share or hint at?

Patrice Banks: I will be opening my first full service auto repair shop here in Philly this fall. We will be hiring female mechanics, technicians and service advisors. We’ll also offer a beautiful, clean, warm, and welcoming lounge tailored to women. But the best part about Girls Auto Clinic repair, there will be an onsite nail salon and blow out bar to get your nails done while you wait for your car. The name of this “clubhouse” for women is High Maintenance. The Beautiful Thing About High Maintenance is that it removes the typical auto repair waiting room experience and replaces it with all of our favorite things to do. So while you’re getting your blown out tire replaced, you can get an amazing blow out. Or while you’re having your oil changed, you can change your nail color and have your eyebrows fleeked. Getting your car maintenance is no longer a chore, but something you look forward to doing.

Also Girls Auto Clinic has been selected as a semi-finalist (1 of 30 in the nation and 1 in 5 in Philly) to pitch our business idea to Daymond John of Shark Tank and other panelists in the Miller Lite Tap the Future business competition. The competition is July 16th at World Café Live. We need Philly to come out and support us as we represent our home city!!

Best of luck to Patrice and the Girls Auto Clinic crew! To learn more about Girls Auto Clinic and their workshops and services, follow the company on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!