Barbara Kavovit redefined what women expect from home repair tools. She designed a breakout line of tools for women that are sexy, fun and, above all, work. How did she break into the male-dominated construction industry? And how did she become the home fix-it icon, Barbara K? In this episode of Women on Top we’ll see how this single working mom runs a multi-million dollar business and an impossibly busy personal life.
At eight, Barbara helped her Dad build her bunk bed. She always loved building things. Home after college with a finance degree, Barbara overheard her mom complain about small home repairs. Sensing an opportunity, Barbara handed fliers to women at a local mall promising to repair anything. After one day, twenty women called. Soon Barbara oversaw a small army of handymen. She landed corporate clients ranging from IBM to Ralph Lauren, often as the first female contractor a company had ever hired. She built a million dollar construction operation until the 9/11 attacks depressed the New York economy and wiped her out. Divorced, with a young son, she was back where she started.
Barbara K discovered that little had changed since she got into construction. Home reno centres and repair tools were still geared to men. Marshalling her savings, Barbara created cool tools made to fit women’s hands. She wrote books encouraging other women to take charge of their own home repairs. A single working mother, Barbara K demonstrates self-reliance in everything she does, from raising her eight-year-old son to her company. She’s become a fixture on morning talk shows, just signed with AOL to be their home improvement expert and is developing automotive products for women. Barbara K’s philosophy is never look back. But can she keep all her balls in the air?