Steph Abbott: Women in Drywall

Steph Abbott embodies what it means to have a “work ethic.” Speaking to this Central Alberta-based drywall finisher, you’ll hear her affirm her belief in being a hardworking person — whether it’s in her drywall work or in the values she strives to teach her three kids — again and again.

Maybe that unwavering work ethic has been built up over the years, first by growing up on a farm, and then again by working as a drywall finisher for the last 14 years. Or maybe that’s just how Steph is: someone who’s always pushing forward, giving everything she’s got to every project she undertakes. And as for being one of the few tradeswomen working in such a male-dominated industry? It only adds fuel to her fire.

“When you walk by me, I'm not that person on my phone,” Steph told us. “I'm not that person talking to the guys. I'm that girl that is grinding, putting in every hour, every day, and just proving them wrong.”

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‘I could only get so far working for someone else’

Like a lot of drywall finishers, Steph got into the trade through a chance connection: her uncle owned a drywall company, and at just 19 years old, Steph asked him for a job — any job — in hopes of changing the path her life was headed down. She began working for him by applying fire tape, and once he saw how proficient Steph was getting at that, she got bumped up to working on walls. She received her first hawk and trowel set, and right away, Steph was in love.

For several years after that, Steph worked mostly commercial jobs as a part of larger crews, learning to master the tools of her trade. In that time, she had a daughter, and with her daughter’s future in mind, Steph started planning to open her own business. As soon as she was able, she started working overtime to make that dream a reality.

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“I worked on multiple different crews, between cribbing, steel and finishing, but — how do I explain it? I knew that I could only get so far working for someone else,” said Steph. “So, I decided to start my own company when my daughter, Teagyn, was about three years old. I would go to work at my normal job, drywall taping, during the day. Then, evenings and weekends, I started to work for myself. I was a single mom and I needed to provide more for my child.

Steph started her own residential drywall finishing brand in 2015, Absolutely Drywall. Seven years later, in 2022, now with two more children — twins named Elle and Krew — Steph gave her business a fresh start with a new name, one that combines her kids’ initials (give or take an extra “e”): Teek Interiors. These days, as a small business owner, Steph is making a name for Teek Interiors, both on Alberta jobsites and on social media. But her love for getting her hands dirty to create beautifully finished drywall has never faded from that first day she picked up a hawk and trowel.

“Drywall finishing is extremely hard work,” Steph says. “It takes a lot of time, dedication, and talent. But once you finally have it, it's like riding a bike — you don't really lose it …. It's very satisfying to see it all come together. Then, after you sand, you've put so many hours into a job, it's nice to look back and see what you've accomplished with so much hard work.”

Women in Drywall: ‘There’s been a massive shift’

For Steph, seeing women succeed in the trades is nothing short of inspiring. Steph began connecting with other tradeswomen when she started posting on TikTok. When a friend and fellow woman in drywall, Kristi Slade, recommended that Steph start a Teek Interiors page on Instagram as well, she discovered a whole world of female drywallers and tapers supporting and inspiring one another — and other young women who may feel encouraged to join the trades themselves.

“With having two daughters, I definitely want to show them what good work ethic is like, and that women can make it in a man's world, right?” says Steph. “I feel like right now, more than ever, there's been a massive shift with women in construction and I'm here for it. I absolutely love seeing it. We're setting the women up for success in the future, because I personally went through some hard times getting into construction. It was hard. You didn't normally see a woman on the construction site, so to be paving the way for the women coming up in the future feels amazing.”

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Steph may even be raising the next generation of tradespeople herself: her oldest child already knows her way around a drywall job, and at 11 years old, can spot screws for a whole garage. Her two-year-old twins, too, have been accompanying her onto some finishing jobs. Someday, Steph would love for her children to master the art of drywall finishing and make Teek Interiors a full-on family business. But that’s not necessarily why she’s teaching them everything she knows about taping now. For Steph, learning a trade means learning self-reliance through thick and thin — and, yes, once again, gaining a strong work ethic.

“I usually keep [my kids] pretty close to me, just to keep them interested in the lifestyle of blue-collar and drywall and pique their interest in it, and hope that, one day, they want to follow in my footsteps,” she says. “If anything, just for side jobs, so that they can always be self-supporting for themselves … I think that engraving good work ethic into our children at such a young age is so important. Growing up on the farm, we didn't really have a choice. We had to be out there grinding every day. I do want to give my kids a choice, but I also want to set them up for success with good work ethic.”

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Women in Drywall

Women in Drywall

Meet the women changing the face of an industry.