Automotive technician Faye Hadley is the owner of Pistons & PixieDust (mobile automotive repair and education by women, for women) as well as one of the founders of #WomanAndMachine, an organization of tradeswomen that hosts day-long, female-centered, automotive workshops across the country. Faye also teaches a series of popular, hands-on workshops for women several times a month, with topics ranging from “How to buy and sell a car and not get screwed” to Engine Building Basics.
Since childhood, Faye has been fascinated by machinery and vehicles, but her interest in becoming a mechanic was cemented by a 2007 cross-country road trip in a VW Rabbit that she converted to run on waste vegetable oil. After her return to the Northeast, Faye completed her education at Harvard University, graduating with a degree in Psychology in 2010. While working full-time as a therapist, she apprenticed in her off-hours with a mechanic in Providence, RI, where she was taught basic skills in exchange for taking care of shop tasks like cleaning, ordering parts, and disassembling junk cars. Soon, she was ready to pursue her dream full-time, and moved to Portland, OR where she returned to school to learn the automotive trade, working evenings at a local independent garage to pay the bills.
After completing several classes at the local community college, she was offered a job at a nearby Toyota dealership where she continued her education, receiving several certifications through Toyota. From there, she was recruited by a well-known independent shop, which specialized in older vehicles but was expanding to include Toyota and hybrid repair. Hoping to widen her knowledge base and experience, she accepted the job, and found that many loyal customers followed her there; they appreciated her enthusiasm and the way she included them in the process, empowering them to understand more about the way their cars operated. Their interest and encouragement led her to teach automotive classes after hours, which is now an integral part of her business.