Eli Mack Williams
Founder of Q-House
Roofing break on a hot day in North Carolina, circa 2017
As a queer trans tradesperson it makes sense that my pathway into the trades was not a straight shot. Finishing up a collegiate experience in Michigan, I lived in a shared house whose furniture and rooms lacked functionality. It was living with others that my passion for improving spaces to cultivate a sense of welcoming and efficient organization started.
That same year, my dad gifted me a hand held electric circular saw for my birthday and it sparked my inner DIY fixer-upper and home-improver mentality. I began experimenting with building and quickly fell in love with the creativity, problem-solving and math required to have a project come to fruition. Taking a summer to save on rent, I lived with my parents and continued to explore my dads’ garage – using tools I had never thought I would have a desire to know the name of let alone how they functioned and operated. I would take pencil to paper, draw out something to create, then go figure out how to turn that drawing into a living project.
It was that summer my career path went from using my GRE test scores to get into a masters of public health program to taking a position with Habitat for Humanity in Portland, Oregon. I immersed myself completely into the world of construction and took quickly to rough framing, fence-building and empowering others how to use tools.
After building homes from the foundation up to completion with Habitat for Humanity alongside volunteers of all abilities, genders, identities and race, I saw what a collaborative and intersectional construction team could look like and how the multiple perspectives of each individual cultivated a more enthusiastic and rewarding project.
From Habitat for Humanity I ventured off in to the world of teaching with Oregon Tradeswomen Inc. and GirlsBuild as an in-field carpentry instructor. Oregon Tradeswomen aims to empower women, trans and gender non-conforming people to economic independence in the skilled trades through a pre-apprentice curriculum. Cohorts ranged in abilities and experience, but all were given basic carpentry skills with windows into the other trades for them to explore. My enthusiasm for teaching continued with GirlsBuild that aims to empower girls through the trades through their summer camps.
Almost two years from leaving Portland to sink roots here in Seattle, I have finally begun my dream to create a fully queer and/or trans team of remodelers to help clients reimagine their spaces, remodel them with quality and redefine what the trades look and act like. As Q-House LLC grows, I aim to have apprenticeship positions and full-time employees to create access and equity in the trades, specifically when it comes to gender and sexuality.
Whether you need a consult on your space and what opportunities are already there beneath the walls or have a dream for your future space that you want to become a reality, Q-House will get you there!