INDIANAPOLIS — An area that is in high demand and is considered essential work during the COVID-19 pandemic is in the skilled trades industry.
A local apparel company founded in 2017 is working to promote pride and unity in the trades industry to encourage more people to consider going into this line of work.
Kelson Carter is a plumber in the Indianapolis area and his sister Lauren Carter is the founder of Career Coach Indy. Together, they founded the apparel brand and company, Trade Life.
"We started it because we just feel like there is a lack pride and unity in among all of the trades and so we created it to say hey, this is a cool clothing line and let's have more pride around working in the trades," Lauren said. "It's an essential service and it's the backbone of America in some ways."
For Kelson, his journey to becoming a plumber started at a young age.
"Plumbing, it just kind of runs deep in my roots,' Kelson said. "One of the best things I did was I job shadowed a lot of different trade jobs and that's how I decided that, hey, plumbing would be a good fit for me."
But as a high school student, Kelson says it was tough being one of the only kids in his class going straight to work rather than college.
"It was very difficult, you know? Everybody's going to college and having a good time and you decide to start working right away," Kelson said.
However, the financial benefits and job security of plumbing also weighed on his decision.
"A lot of places like electrical, HVAC, boilermakers, construction managers they all start at around $25 an hour, so starting out. And it can go up from there. It's all kind of knowledge based," he said.
Their Trade Life brand works to create unity and pride between careers that are hands-on and often not looked at as glamorous, but which are important in our society. Trade Life works to connect people in these different fields and helps them show they are proud to be in a career that helps people.
During the COVID-19 crisis, these careers are considered essential and workers can continue to provide for their families.
"Its an essential need," Kelson said. "So its very rewarding to be able to get out there and still be able to be working through all of this."
Lauren, a Purdue University graduate, said that as a career coach, she is able to see the benefits of earning a college degree and also going into the trades. She said it depends on the person and part of what she does for work is to help guide people into a career path that is best for them.
She says during the pandemic, many workers or students may be re-evaluating their future career plans.
"What's my industry going to look like in five years, in 10 years, or how is my industry really going to be impacted by the coronavirus," Lauren said. "It's a really good time for people to evaluate their industry that they are in and if they've had an interest in the trades before in their life. Maybe now is the time to check it out because its in really high demand. It's an essential service its not going anywhere any time soon and we really need hard workers in the skilled trades."
On their website, Lauren and Kelson not only sell clothing in support of the skilled trades, they are have blog posts with helpful career information. Some of the topics include steps to get into the trades, a breakdown of different trades in demand right now, and more.
The Carters said they hope just as students wear their college gear proudly, workers in the skilled trades can wear their Trade Lives apparel with pride in what they do.
"If it was more of like a cool option I guess then maybe more people would be inclined to look at it sooner rather than later in life," Lauren said.
If you want to purchase apparel or check out their blog, you can visit TradeLife.com and you can also follow them on Instagram at @LivingTheTrade. If you need help on your journey to a career or if you are without a job right now and seeking advice, you can chat with Lauren at CareerCoachIndy.com.