Welcome to Development with Danielle©, my weekly blog about women in the trades, by a woman in trades.
I decided to begin this series because construction has always been a male-dominated industry, and it’s rewarding to explore the inroads that women have made in this exciting profession.
My goal is to educate and encourage you, and also be inspired by you! I tip my hard hat to the talented, passionate women who are following their dreams. It’s rare but no longer shocking to find us on scaffolding, operating heavy equipment, or leading woman-owned construction firms.
Dads and Daughters in the Construction Realm
I hope my journey helps empower you to chase a career in any realm of construction you choose! Each and every one of us has a backstory that led us into the world of construction, and here’s mine.
Some of you, like me, grew up in the industry and on construction sites. I treasure two things that shaped me in those early years as I watched my father, a construction contractor in Brooklyn, New York:
- How to build
- The power of an entrepreneurial spirit
I will forever love my dad, who isn’t with us anymore—except as an everlasting example of what a business owner should be. Hard-working. Honest. Reliable.
I fondly recall the highest compliment he ever paid me. “Danielle,” he said, “you were born to be a serial entrepreneur.”
Find the Niche…But Expect a Failure or Two
Dad wasn’t kidding. I founded and operated five businesses after moving to Texas. Right out of high school, I decided to skip “traditional” college and entered the workforce (later attending the Dale Carnegie School of Business). Somehow, someway, I had an eye for finding gaps that I could fill in the marketplace, for instance, niche businesses that met a community need.
That’s the key. Find what people lack, and deliver what they need.
Beginning in 1998, I co-owned Intellifacts Corporation, an employment screening company named one of Houston’s fastest-growing two years in a row. Next, in 2004, I founded Katy Cab and Limo Co., the city’s first full-service transportation company with a fleet of ten vehicles ranging from town cars to SUVs to stretch limousines. Next came a partnership with a physician and the birth of the award-winning Ageless Med Spa.
And then came America Outdoor Living, a short-lived “staycation” type business that I got off the ground but decided to shutter. Why? I realized our business model wasn’t right. That was an “epiphany moment” for me personally as an otherwise successful businesswoman. Talk about humbling!
Failure is a topic we should talk about. We shouldn’t hide from it. We should learn from it. As difficult and devastating as my decision was, it pushed me forward with humility and reflection — letting go and moving forward.
The most important lesson? To embrace the importance of trying. That’s not a cliché. Rather, it’s a stepping stone into something greater, as reflected in the quotes below:
“Success is most often achieved by those who don’t know that failure is inevitable.” ~ Coco Chanel
“The phoenix must burn to emerge.” ~ Janet Fitch
Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” ~ Robert F. Kennedy
“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” ~ Jack Canfield
Back Into the Construction Realm
What brought me back to my first love, construction?
Well, for years, I wanted to start a construction company in my dad’s honor. It just so happened that I had already met the right person at the right time who encouraged this idea—James Wright. I was impressed by two things: 1.) his know-how and construction background and 2) his uncanny similarities to my father, specifically, his work ethic, safety-mindedness, and customer focus.
Honestly, there was a third big draw, and that was chemistry. When James proposed, and I accepted, a whole new world of possibilities opened up as we continued to blend our families and abilities. So, my fifth business, Right Choice Development and Construction, opened in 2016, and we haven’t looked back.
It’s Nice to Meet You
Thanks for stopping by, and I invite you to visit our Projects page to see some of the amazing retail, office, and industrial work that Right Choice delivers across Houston and the State of Texas. Please contact me for general contracting project inquiries (and perhaps some woman-centric mentoring) as we tackle the bold and beautiful world of women in the construction realm.