The “Tool Box Tom Girl” will be speaking at Timonium’s Crowne Plaza Hotel —but don’t expect her to be wearing her tool belt.
Jo Ellen Soesbee is the “Tool Box Tom Girl” herself, and she’s the owner of Reliable Repairs, Inc. Soesbee will speak about being a woman business owner. Her business is dirty and scrappy. She and her husband run a handyman’s service, and they’ve been getting dusty and splintery since 2004.
On May 17, at 6 p.m., Soesbee will be educating women on the ins and outs of owning a business at a networking event sponsored by the Towson/Hunt Valley Business and Professional Women's Association.
“I’ll just be talking to them about what I do and how I do it, because you can’t just walk out and start a business,” said Soesbee. “There are a lot of things you have to do, and a lot of hoops you have to jump through to get there.”
Soesbee, who lives in Pasadena, has a business degree from Johns Hopkins University. But more importantly, she has picked up the basic, do-it-yourself skills to execute the home repairs that so many women feel are over their heads. In addition to owning her business, Soesbee is reaching out and empowering women to take the hammers into their own hands.
“One of the basic things that I do,” said Soesbee, “is teach women how to do the small repairs around their house, so that they don’t have to call someone in. Especially things like small plumbing repairs, like putting in a new flapper in a toilet, and small drywall repairs, like fixing a hole in the wall. Or putting up small areas of trim, doing some small painting areas, spackling, sanding—that kind of stuff.”
Soesbee has a blog and a newsletter, where she shares tidbits of essential homeowners’ knowledge. The tricks of the trade are not trade secrets. She is always available for nitty-gritty how-to questions.
“People are always welcome to call or e-mail me with questions on how to do things,” said Soesbee. “I don’t charge for knowledge.”
Soesbee teaches at Anne Arundel and Harford Community Colleges. She also travels to local senior centers and teaches basic, do-it-yourself, hands-on handyman skills to seniors.
To register for Soesbee’s talk on the challenges and lessons of being a woman in business, call Donna Smith at 301-797-8761. In the meantime, if you’re struggling with the beveled edge of your crown molding or a clogged garbage disposal, you can reach Soesbee directly, through her website.