Just five years after stumbling upon welding for the first time, Bronté Freeman owns and operates a successful welding business in Victoria. It’s a feat that would be impressive for anyone but is far more rare for a woman.
“Sometimes it feels like it just happened, but it didn’t,” Freeman said. A lot of hard work has gone into where she is today.
Five years ago Freeman was living in Whistler. She had just finished her kinesiology degree at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia and, equipped with the knowledge that she had no idea what she wanted to do next, bought a giant Bernese mountain dog and moved across the country.
|(Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)|
It was there, while helping out a friend over the Christmas holidays, Freeman discovered a passion for welding.
“I was instantly mesmerized. I just loved it.”
Growing up, Freeman said her dad was super handy and happily introduced her and her three sisters to various trades.
“We always had bikes and tools around the house. He was always super keen to show us.”
But welding was not among those trades, and Freeman said she had always assumed it would mean going up north and working on the oil rigs.
As she began to look into the trade, Freeman realized it is quite versatile. Interested in more of the design and build side, she decided to attend Camosun College where she earned her Red Seal – the national standard of excellence for skilled trades in Canada.
What followed were two years of working in shops to afford to work on her own projects that her parents frequently purchased to help pay for her rent. Throughout it all, Freeman was driven and determined. She wanted to build her own business – one that focused on high-quality finishing work and customer experience.
“I just kind of knew that I could do it and that I wanted to do it.”
Two years ago, an opportunity presented itself. Bill Hooson, the owner of Steelcraft and Peetz Manufacturing, was retiring and looking for someone to purchase his tools and take over his lease and decades of clientele.
Today, she runs her shop a little differently than most she’s worked in.
“I like to involve the customer in the design portion and I like them to feel a part of the whole process,”
Customers are tired of feeling like they’ve been left in the dust by trades people, she explained. With Freeman Fabrication, she works to communicate with each client.
And she also has different ambitions for her business.
“I would love to be able to open up this space to training and be able to offer mentorship to females in the trade.”
Attending Camosun, there were plenty of women in the program, but not a single female instructor. Not having female role models in the trade never deterred Freeman from entering it, but she knows it could discourage others.
“I’d really like to be a place that can offer knowledge and mentorship.”
It’s her five-year goal to be able to offer workshops to interested women. Self-sufficiency is empowering and rewarding.
“It’s very satisfying to have something in your home that you built with your own hands.”
Freeman’s projects can be viewed at her website, freemanfabrication.ca, or on social media.
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