Changing the World with LaToya Faustin and She Built This City

The world is full of women doing incredible things. We’re not surprised by this fact – at hygge coworking we are literally surrounded by them. Most people aren’t surprised by this fact. But still, we take time every March to celebrate these women with International Women’s Day. It’s a nice gesture, She Built This City’s LaToya Faustin says. But is it enough?

“I am happy there is an opportunity to highlight the fact that women have and always will be doing amazing things to impact the lives of those around me,” she says. “I’m also a little bit angry that there’s a day. Where’s International Men’s Day? You don’t have one, because it’s every day.”

That’s not to say International Women’s Day isn’t important, LaToya says. But how are we changing as a culture to ensure that, one day, celebrating women and women of color is just as commonplace as celebrating the accomplishments of men? What are we doing year round as individuals to lift women up?

“Let’s celebrate, let’s honor, let’s change the culture,” she says. As the youth might say, 👏 retweet 👏

And if you need an example of someone who is working day in and day out to make this culture change, LaToya is it. She’s the COO of She Built This City, a nonprofit whose mission is to spark interest in girls and career-choosing women in the trades and manufacturing so there can be 50/50 equity by 2030. 

The organization was founded in December 2019 by Demi Knight Clark, who had spent decades in the construction industry and was ultimately tired of being the only woman at the table. Construction, manufacturing and the trades in general offer lucrative careers with great benefits and pay. Women needed to be brought into the fold.

Starting a nonprofit right before a major global pandemic didn’t slow down Demi, or LaToya, who joined the nonprofit just a few months later to further Demi’s mission and allow her to return to the for profit world. Instead, they found a need in the community and began using their resources to 3D print 17,000 face shields for 40 organizations across the country. They offered virtual shop classes that reached over 80,000 individuals. They launched a mobile learning lab to meet folks where they were and held 34 mobile events and worked with 500 students in the Charlotte community. 

They also found a home at Innovation Alley at the back of our hygge jay street location alongside two other incredible nonprofits, Rebuilding Together of Greater Charlotte and Digi-Bridge. It’s the beginning of a beautiful partnership where the three will host programming and create incredible things together, we’re sure.

If all of that is making your head spin just a bit, we should let you know that’s really only the tip of the iceberg. She Built This City, with LaToya and Demi at its helm, have some lofty goals, and they are most certainly the two women to get it all done. LaToya sees a future not only where women are encouraged to explore the trades as a viable career option, but also where they own their own businesses in the trades industry.

“If we can empower women in that space as well, can you think about what it would mean to serve domestic violence survivors? For them to feel comfortable with a woman coming into their space? Single moms? There’s lots of demand for that, so let’s empower women to take that demand.” 

This means alongside training women for the trades, She Built This City also plans to offer entrepreneurship training with a focus on owning a business as a woman and for minority owned women.

“Because the women who have made it don’t look like me,” she says. “We have a lot of pushing and poking to do, but we’re gonna do it.” 

We have no doubt about it. The last person we’d ever bet against is LaToya, who is so passionate and energetic about the changes she sees coming. She has big plans for She Built This City in 2021. You’ll see LaToya and her team pushing their partners to pledge to diversity, equity and inclusion in all aspects of their business, expanding their 3D printing initiatives at Innovation Alley to explore accessibility and critical home repairs in Charlotte and going to the legislature to create change on a wider, national scale.

“I am excited, I am overwhelmed and a little scared, but if you’re not a little scared, then what are you doing?” Laytoya asks.

To stay up-to-date on all She Built This City is doing and help them with their mission, check out their website by clicking here. You can also follow them on Instagram or check out their Facebook page. 

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