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Running a business

Audra Fordin is giving women confidence in the garage

In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re celebrating the stories of the amazing women in small business that are conquering male-dominated industries and working to #breakthebias.

Name: Audra Fordin

Location: Queens, New York

Business: Women Auto Know

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What do you do?

Women Auto Know educates and empowers drivers—especially women—on the topic of automotive maintenance, repair, safety, and consumer confidence as well as overall self esteem and empowerment. We make auto easy. 

Why did you decide to start your own business? 

Safety and truth are my passion. In my 30+ years of experience, I have seen more than my share of drivers wasting their time, wasting their money, and worse, getting hurt because of something that could have been avoided with a little “auto” know-how.

What is the biggest lesson you learned in the first year?

Without judgment, I learned that “common sense” is only common once someone tells you.

What was the most surprising thing about becoming a business owner?

It was a very natural progression due to my involvement in the shop. There is always something to learn even after all of these years.

What is an aspect of running a business that you needed to learn more about when you started? How did you learn about it? 

The service side of business is challenging, and using technology to communicate with our clients and guests at the facility is always a learning experience. We’ve been learning through reading, troubleshooting, and creating our own procedures over the years. 

How does running your own business make you feel?

Running my own business often feels like a roller coaster. I have an endless supply of emotions that charge me up and they change throughout the day depending on the challenges I meet. It is a very energetic experience that fuels the passion for Women Auto Know. 

What are some of the challenges you’ve overcome or are working to overcome as a business owner?

Changing the culture of automotive is my biggest challenge. The Women Auto Know philosophy truly simplifies the process by allowing me to overcome communication challenges between staff and customers. There are four components—Educate, don’t intimidate; Show and tell; Tell, don’t sell; and Service, not sales. This philosophy creates transparency and fosters participation.

What are your proudest moments? 

Being a mother and educating my own children about automotives are my proudest moments. I’m also proud of our interactive life-size traveling children’s museum exhibit. My thinking is to get to the kids before the stereotype does.

What are the next big plans you have for your business? 

Providing a complete workshop package so that automotive shops, clubs, and enthusiasts will be able to conduct workshops with us no matter the distance. These workshops are designed for team-building, small or medium size groups, organizations, homeschooling, scouts, and new drivers. They’re also designed for any driving age group.

What are three things that you feel have contributed to your success as a business owner? 

Insight, trusting my instincts, and relating to people. Getting granular. Our vision to change the perception of auto repair and have 400,000 people take our Women Auto Know pledge by 2025 is going to happen with one driver at a time. 

What challenges do you feel are unique to female small business owners? 

The auto industry is a service business. Until the industry as a whole relates to female customers in a way that women will receive comfortably, they will fail to harness that market. I see this as an opportunity for education and empowerment. This disconnect is repairable through our Women Auto Know program. 

What is it like working in an industry that some might see as traditionally male-dominated? Have you come up against any bias? 

For now, being a female in the auto industry means we are surrounded by men. That is why I created the pledge. By taking the Women Auto Know pledge and practicing the Auto Know philosophy, the auto industry can earn respect among all genders. 

Is there anything you want other women to know about working in your industry? 

If you like cars, let me tell you, there are not a lot of women auto mechanics out there. There is a tremendous, lucrative opportunity for a career in the automotive industry. 

What advice would you give to other women starting their own business?

You are here on purpose, for a purpose. If you feel it in your heart, activate it. 

When you’re having a tough day, who or what inspires you to keep going?

I read the Bible. The Good book is my go-to all the time. My favorite verse is John 16:23. 

How can female business owners support one another and their community? 

I believe that having workshops is my way of being of service for other people. Having the workshops packaged is a way to pass it on for others to be of service to others in their community. These workshops bring us together, safer and provide endless support across the entire network.

What’s your “power song” and why? 

There are many days I can relate to “Superwoman” by Alicia Keys. Especially the lyrics: “I’m searching for the better part of me…Gotta find the strength in me.”

To learn more about Women Auto Know and to support the business, visit their website or check them out on Instagram.


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