Jules the pool Girl
Certified Pool & Spa Operator
Certified Algae Eradication and Prevention Specialist
If you were to ask someone to close their eyes and picture someone cleaning a pool, I bet 99% of them would envision a male. The pool industry is dominated mostly by men, but the recent uprising of women in the industry is literally making headlines. Sometimes it isn’t easy to be “a woman doing a man’s job”. I had the privilege of chatting with some successful gals in the swimming pool industry and learning about their struggles and successes.
Let’s start with Kristen Melo of Preserve Pools, LLC AND the Pleatco Pool Gal of the Year 2022. Luckily for her, she hasn’t let anything bother her. She feels “…there is only a problem or a situation when you allow things to bother you. As far as struggles in the industry as a woman, there were a “few instances here and there where [she] felt disrespected.” She has been one of the lucky ones who wasn’t “treated any differently by anyone”. She goes on to add, “…especially in the industry”. Everyone she has met has “absolutely treated [her] completely equal, if not put me on way too high of a pedestal”.
This girl deserves to be put on a pedestal in my opinion! Winning the contest “was absolutely a huge success for me and I’m the most proud of”, she says.. Kristen has a lot of certifications and has spent “every waking moment dedicating [herself] to the industry.” She has her own company, which she “started from nothing” and has enjoyed “ [Watching] it grow into what it has become today”. Way to go, Kristen!
Another superstar pool gal is Paige Pruett-Wichern. Her biggest challenge was “overcoming stereotypes that women aren’t mechanically inclined, good leaders or intelligent enough to troubleshoot”. This is largely related to living in the Ozarks “due to gender norms in the area”. She has learned that “being able to speak comfortably and confidently about [her] business and knowledge usually wins over [any] worried clients”.
Paige is Vice President of the Southern Missouri Builders Association. She is opening a SECOND retail location. She states that she “is getting recognized by others who [she] never knew were even paying attention to [her]. Shegoes on to say she has “found her calling”. We most certainly agree!
Lauren Broom of Space Coast School is one of the forefront leaders in educating both men and women in the swimming pool industry. She admits, “It is definitely hard to be taken seriously as a woman in the pool industry, even as an educator.” Lauren has broken through the industry with her podcast and she “being the host as a woman was hard” to accomplish this break through. She feels women “have a lot to share to the industry that are so positive.
Lauren has been in the industry a decade and started her own business full-time a year and a half ago. She gushes, “I love educating the industry and its an honor and a privilege and something I hope to do for a long time”. We appreciate you sharing your knowledge with us, Lauren!
Up next is Shannon Sellers of Jeff’s Pool and Spa Service out of St. Mary’s, GA. She feels she is”on the right path in the pool industry” by winning “a National Award”, PPPG. This has “helped boost [her confidence] as a woman in a predominantly male industry”.
She has had her share of struggles and points to “new customers who have never had a female pool tech.”. And believe it or not, this is not limited to just men. “Women, too, tend to question [her} advice [simply] because [she] is a woman.’ It doesn’t get her down, though. Not anymore! “It used to bother [her]” but now she finds it “quite rewarding proving herself” and she always “takes [things with a grain of salt”. Great attitude to have, Shannon!
Rockstar pool gal Andrea Nanini of Hibiscus Pools out of FL “is still proving what [she] know[s] and what [she] can do [just] as well as a male”. She acknowledges, it will “…always require extra effort as a woman so I have learned to carry on and not let it stop me.” Don’t ever stop!
Andrea’s biggest success has been simple. “When [she] feels most happy and proud of [her] accomplishments. She goes on to add, “ [She] loves the industry and what [she] has learned and is the happiest sharing what [she] knows with others.” That makes us happy too, Andrea!
Finally me, Jules the Pool Girl, of Mission Pool & Spa Supplies in Southern CA.. Man, my biggest struggle as a woman on the “Operations” side of running a swimming pool maintenance and repair store for almost 6 years now has been getting my male employees to listen to and respect me as their boss and leader. Customers often want to speak to a man or a “manager”, not even giving me a chance to help them. I also get picked on for not having “field experience”. I am, however, a Certified Pool and Spa Operator and a Certified Algae Eradication and Prevention Specialist. Those that don’t “do” are certainly capable of teaching and be part of a working cog in the many parts of the swimming pool industry operation.
My biggest successes have been my ongoing training and certifications. I was also a winner of the “30 Under 40” contest that Pool Pro Magazine puts out a couple of years back. Ironically, what I am most proud of is my writing. I write for several different companies. I fell into the pool industry and also feel I have found my calling. Being able to utilize my talent and love of writing and incorporating it into the pool industry has been a dream come true!
So there you have it. Women are becoming more and more prominent in the predominantly male industry. We are breaking the mold and hope to one day be treated as equals. Pool Girl Power!