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Women in Plastering: Joanne Simpson | Interview

This month, after celebrating International Women’s day and Mother’s day, we’ve decided to interview a woman who’s been in the plastering industry for 30 years and has helped shape Bespoke Plaster Mouldings into its current state; our Works Director, Joanne Simpson.

What got you in the plastering industry?

I joined the family business right after graduating from high school. Initially I was responsible for the invoices and doing the admin work but I wanted to do more. I could always hear the plasterers laughing and having a good time in the workshop so one day I decided to give it a go and I got hooked. Working with your hands is so much fun and even though it can be tiring sometimes, I like being creative and personally I find it relaxing.

Was your family supportive of your decision to be in the workshop?

Absolutely. My family didn’t see anything wrong with that, they were happy I was enjoying work.

Joanne Simpson and her mother at Bespoke Plaster Mouldings

What is your favourite part about your job? 

I’d say restoring period plasterwork, especially old ceiling roses like this one. I can spend a day taking off the paint to find what’s underneath.

As a woman in a male-dominated industry did you face any challenges over the years?

It’d be a lie to say I didn’t (laughs). Over the years I’ve had my share of sexist experiences; I wouldn’t wanna go into details now. In my opinion, you just have to show the men you’re not bothered and you can do whatever they can, which is true. You also gotta have a sense of humour and not let anything affect you.

Are you happy with the current state of the plastering industry?

On one hand I am but I think it can be further improved. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t recognise the high skills and level of craftsmanship that goes into our work. Trade professions are still undervalued. In addition, there’s still a stigma about women doing plasterwork!

What advice would you give to women who’d like to get in the plastering industry? Any particular skills they need to have?

I’d say don’t overthink it. Find a good company that will look after you and respect your work. Working in plastering is like any other job that requires you to use your hands! You need to be motivated, you need to like working with your hands and not mind getting dirty.

Jo Simpson restoring a Victorian ceiling rose at Bespoke Plaster Mouldings Ltd

This year it’s Bespoke’s 31st anniversary! What thoughts and emotions come to mind when you think about that?

Can’t believe how fast it’s gone and how much we’ve progressed! Our vision remains the same and we’re still growing despite all the difficulties. We’ve also maintained our traditional methods of plastering, although we’ve made minor improvements to work even more efficiently. We try to keep up with new trends, for example using jesmonite and a new silicone rubber moulding machine, but our values remain the same. Our customers come first and there’s no project we can’t do; if you can draw it, we can do it!

If you’re a woman thinking about joining the plastering industry and you’d like advice or have any questions, feel free to contact Joanne using this form!

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