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At the moment, the alone complete in Patrice Banks’ auto adjustment boutique in Upper Darby is the bang of her brand strappy red heels beyond the floor. Soon, though, if her plan pans out, the abode will boom with revving engines, lug-nut guns, and draft dryers, while in the air the scents of 10W-30 motor oil and beginning attach brightness commingle.



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Garages, about always, are shrines to the Y chromosome. But Banks’ eyes for the Girls Auto Clinic and So Clutch Beauty Bar is XX: car affliction for women, by women. Get a action with a ablution and a countenance wax, a bless with a mani and a mimosa.



Banks, 35, already has assassin four changeable mechanics. She took out a $550,000 coffer loan. By October, she projects, the 46,000-square-foot above Speedway Auto Adjustment on West Chester Pike will be adapt as a “clubhouse for women,” with purse hooks ancient from wrenches, a license-plate chandelier, an old gas bill for a faucet, beard food in toolboxes, and a ample mural of a barn door.

In her continued view, it could be the arrangement for a civic chain. There are a few added garage/salons about the country, but the bazaar can board a newcomer: Each year in the United States, women absorb $200 billion on car purchases and repairs.



“Women accept a lot of affairs power, so this is article that makes the boutique ambiance added comfortable,” said Timothy Hatcher, a administrator of the Automotive Maintenance and Adjustment Association, acknowledging that amid life’s unpleasantries, accepting a car serviced is additional alone to activity to the dentist.

Banks herself is a mechanic, although the job description sells her short. She’s a car-care diva, a persona aloof bristles years in the making.

Abandoning her career as a DuPont abstracts engineer, she accomplished as an auto artisan and went to assignment in the trade. Meanwhile, she launched adjustment clinics for women, wrote a female-centric fix-it guide, snagged a arrangement for addition book, and drew the absorption of O, the Oprah Magazine.

Friends who accept watched her reinvention say they don’t agnosticism the adventure will pay off. Jasmin King, a acquaintance at Lehigh University in the backward 1990s, acquainted agitation over Banks’ career swap, again admiration. She invested $17,500 in the start-up.

“You accept to accept a assertive backbone and backbone to do what she was ambience out to do,” King said.

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That mettle, Banks says, came from her asperous adolescence in Phoenixville – growing up poor with a distinct mother who couldn’t allow a car.

“Seeing my mom, how abundant she struggled, fabricated me anticipate I didn’t appetite to accept that life,” Banks recalled.

By 16, she was alive three jobs, and authoritative abundant to buy a amber 1988 Chevy Cavalier.

Far added impactful, she acceptable a scholarship to Lehigh, acceptable the aboriginal actuality in her ancestors to appear college. She advised engineering and was on the aggregation team. Next came the job with DuPont, allegory arrangement failures. At 23, she bought a home in Delaware.

As she entered her 30s, however, her career no best annoyed her.

“I was activity through the motions, attractive advanced to Fridays and vacations,” she said. “That’s no way to alive life. I capital to be aflame and motivated. I knew there was article abroad out there.”

One day, she took to her claimed blog – Banks On It – and asked changeable readers what they admired they knew that men already seemed to know. The best accepted response: auto repair. That resonated with Banks, who additionally alarming ambidextrous with car problems and had approved in arrogant to acquisition a changeable mechanic.

“I was annoyed of actuality nickeled and dimed,” she said. “I was annoyed of actuality an auto airhead and activity taken advantage of.”

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In archetypal fashion, Banks put the pedal to the metal and took a detour.

In 2012, she enrolled in night classes at Delaware Technical Community Academy for a amount as an auto artisan technician. In aboriginal 2014, she angry abroad from accumulated America and went to assignment in the apple of camshafts and claws – aboriginal for chargeless to get experience, again for $600 a anniversary at Keller’s Auto Adjustment in Roxborough.

Banks additionally started captivation account clinics for women in the parking lot of the Crest Auto Store on Lancaster Avenue in Overbrook, teaching them such basics as how to change the oil and the air clarify – all while cutting her signature red heels.

The clinics “empowered women,” she said, “because we’re the ones who feel best disadvantaged.”

Banks self-published her Girls Auto Clinic Glovebox Guide. That led to a arrangement with Simon & Schuster for a book that will acquaint her broader story; it is due out in 2017. She additionally did a video TED Talk in Wilmington billed “How I Plan to Disrupt the Auto Industry in Red Heels.”

For the Girls Auto Clinic and So Clutch Beauty Bar, she enlisted autogenous artist Sabine Guillaume Hayes to actualize an busy arrangement for bristles blow-out stations, eight manicure and bristles pedicure spots, absterge bowls – all afterwards trivializing the mission, to fix cars.

Males will not be barred at the barn door. In fact, Banks has assassin a West Philadelphia man in whose auto boutique she formed for chargeless while a student.

She and her changeable mechanics apperceive their way about the male-dominated profession.

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Colleen McClure, 38, of Horsham, absitively to get a mechanic’s amount in 2012 afterwards an auto boutique approved to allegation her $300 for atom plugs she didn’t need. In her new career, she begin that “either the bang-up screamed and hollered, or I was acrimonious up all the slack,” she said. “And aback I capital to be compensated for it, I wasn’t.”

She added: “It’s a actual adamantine industry for women to survive in. I acquainted my aback was adjoin the bank everywhere I was at.”

Banks is counting on babe ability as she goes up adjoin male-run adjustment shops. She can see some of them from her rooftop.

“You won’t acquisition one with a changeable mechanic,” she said, abyssal the roof in her red heels. “We’re activity to booty all of their business.”

[email protected]

610-313-8232 @Kathy_Boccella

Published: August 14, 2016 — 3:01 AM EDT The Philadelphia Inquirer

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