My other life: Stefanie Hamilton, welder

By Judy Lessin, Nails Magazine, reprinted with permission

Stefanie Hamilton pauses in front of a welding photo at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in Edmonton.

STEFANIE HAMILTON, OWNER of The Beach House, a home-based salon in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, says she needs nails in her life to keep her in touch with her feminine side. That’s because she spends most of her workweek inside boilers and on vessels. “As a member of the Boilermakers union, everything I do right now is oil- and gas-related,” says Hamilton, who has been welding professionally for about seven years.

Her fascination with welding began when she took a summer job in the safety field. “That was the first time I really saw what welding was,” she says. “It really piqued my interest and I had to find out more. I talked to everyone I could about how I could get started and by doing so I was soon offered a position as a welder’s helper.”

She soon found the pros far outweighed the cons. “I absolutely love the people I get to work with when I weld. I also enjoy working with my hands and creating a finished product,” she says. “Still, it can be challenging being a woman in a male-dominated industry. It gets frustrating having to prove yourself over and over and still try to keep a positive attitude.”

Although the two fields are so different, Hamilton does find there are a few similarities between welding and doing nails. “Again, I love working with the people who come in to get their nails done, and in both positions I’m creating something that I can take pride in.”