Empowering Women, Changing Lives.
My name is Camille Finan, a cabinet maker and kitchen designer with over 35 years of experience. I am also the host of the Remodel Your Life Podcast, the Kitchen Sink Podcast, and The Ugly Kitchen Challenge. If you couldn’t tell, I love the construction industry, especially kitchen design 🙂
You may already know all of this, BUT you may not know the full story behind how I became a successful female contractor in a male-dominated industry.
The Early Years
I grew up in Northern California with my parents. My Mom was a secretary and my Dad was a contractor and cabinet maker. When my mother went to work, my Dad would take me to his job sites where I started learning about wood working at 3 years old. I loved going to work with my Dad and believe this early exposure to the construction industry was a huge reason why I chose this career path later on.
When I was in high-school, my parents divorced and I was devastated. I started doing poorly in school and didn’t know what I was going to do after high school. I decided to go to community college and did well in school, earning 2 Bachelors degrees and an MBA in Business Development.
After college, I started my own business as a business consultant. I was making a lot of money and teaching business courses at the university. But I was miserable. It didn’t make sense that I could seemingly “have it all” and still feel unfulfilled.
My awakening occurred when I began experiencing severe depression and attempted to take my own life. I knew something had to change. I gave up my business, my home, all of my clients, stopped teaching and moved back home with my Mom.
Talk about a MAJOR life change, right? I took a year to work through my depression and figure out my next steps.
Finding My Way
When I had my business, I used the money I made to remodel homes. Remodeling was my mental break and creative outlet. It was the only thing that really got me through. I realized that the construction industry was where I needed to be, but I didn’t know how to break into the industry. I had no connections and was TINY. I’m talking 5’3″ and 95 lbs tiny! Definitely not your typical construction worker profile 😂
But I took the first step that ultimately changed my entire life. On a 100+ degree hot California day I walked onto a jobsite and asked for a job. The foreman had me digging ditches the next morning. I made it through the day sweaty and exhausted, but I was the happiest I had ever been.
New Business Ventures
I continued to get better and better, taking in all the information I could. That led me down a path of exploring different kinds of carpentry and I eventually found my love with kitchens. I learned how to fabricate countertops of all kinds and tile work and flooring. After many years, I eventually could do all the pieces of the kitchen from start to finish.
I decided it was time to go out on my own and start my own shop employing women to build beautiful kitchens. I eventually developed my own method of kitchen design, Design From the Inside Out, that led to me publishing my book, “Kitchen Love Story”.
Along this journey I kept noticing how excited women were to learn power tools and thus the idea for Carpentry U was born. We operated the physical classes out of our shop for 11 years and then created low-cost online classes to help women all over the country feel empowered with power tools.
I created the Carpentry U Scholarship Fund to help women break down barriers working in the trades. Every year I give $100,000 to women and girls who want to work and thrive in the trades. The scholarship helps women in trades to buy tools, take additional training, and get their certificates and licenses.
After 35 years, I decided it was time to close my business and shift my focus so I could help even more people. I started Kitchen Remodel Rockstar, an online program that has helped over 10,000 women create their dream kitchens. Kitchen Remodel Rockstar is a private group full of women that need help during their kitchen remodel.
Carpentry not only changed my life, it saved my life.