Woman-Led Waterworks Plumbing Pushes Back Against Gender Stereotypes

Both the moniker and Patrick Nagel-style graphic of a single tear below an arched brow are a “cheeky nod to supposedly hysterical girls.”

Waterworks Plumbing (Courtesy Waterworks Plumbing)

Well before Danielle Elowe launched her plumbing repair and remodel business, back when the ex-barista wasn’t sure she’d even stick with the trade, “I spent my entire apprenticeship trying to think of what I would hypothetically call this company I had no intention of starting. Finally, in the last year…Waterworks! It’d be a funny little double entendre for people Googling a plumber, thinking Waterworks seems like a totally normal name, to then see my van pull up with this crying eye logo.”

Both the moniker and Patrick Nagel-style graphic of a single tear below an arched brow—”a throwback to the classic ‘80s nail salon artwork I so love,” she adds—weren’t originally meant to signify much more than memorable branding, but Elowe came to embrace the “cheeky nod to supposedly hysterical girls. I mean, the job can be frustrating enough to give anyone what my colleagues refer to as the ‘plumbing sweats.’ There’s definitely crying in plumbing.”

With women representing approximately 3% of American plumbers, convincing prospective clients of her readiness remains a challenge. (Where male contractors are often forced to soften a reflexively gruff approach, she’s found that rattling off arcane technical lingo best reassures customers.) Nonetheless, Elowe continues to swim against the current with the hope of dissolving even the most pervasive stereotypes.

“Nobody needs to see plumber’s crack,” she sighs, “but try keeping your pants up after squatting in strange positions tucked up under cabinetry for most of the day. We’re a very subterranean breed of construction worker, and sometimes you reach back and find your underwear sticking halfway out of your pants. My remedy? Wear clothes that fit, get a Velcro mechanics belt without any metal, and just lean into the overalls style. Go full Mario, and we can put the reputation to rest, once and for all.”

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