Why She’s Amazing
Patrice Banks doesn’t want to be a princess. She wants to be more.
After working in corporate America as an engineer for several years, Patrice found herself “always looking toward Friday” and realized she didn’t want to live that way.
Armed with an entrepreneurial spirit since childhood and a frustration with always needing to ask a man for help with certain tasks, Patrice decided to start a blog. When women responded overwhelmingly that they wished they didn’t need to rely on a man for car maintenance, she knew the feeling all too well.
So, she decided to do something about it. Patrice went back to school to become a mechanic and made it her personal mission to empower and educate other women car owners with her knowledge. During this time, Girls Auto Clinic (GAC) was born. According to Patrice, she recalls the idea coming to her and thinking, “This is it, Patrice. This is it!”
Fast forward several years, and Patrice has created a successful business model that supports a need in the lives of millions: automotive services, products, and resources that cater to women based on trust, education, inclusion and empowerment.
We had a chance to ask Patrice a few questions. Something tells us that she’s just getting started making her mark on the automotive industry!
“I want to help women change the relationship they
have with their cars. The end goal is to
change the automotive industry.” – Patrice Banks
Q & A
Q: When you were a young girl, what did you want to be when you grew up and why?
A: I remember always wanting to be a lot of things, not one particular thing. I was a dreamer. I wanted to be a soccer player, a teacher and a psychologist. Basically, I wanted to do anything that I saw that interested me. This also included being an entrepreneur. I loved reading The Babysitters Club series and wanted to start my own club. For some reason, I never thought about any gender limitations. I just saw it, liked it and wanted to do it.
Q: What did people think when you told them that?
A: They probably thought I was just being a kid. Kids have no bounds and limits to their dreams. As we get older, we start putting limits and boundaries on kids’ dreams. However, dreams are never practical.
Q: Did people call you “princess” when you were a little girl and, if so, how did that make you feel?
A: Sometimes people called me a princess, but mostly when I wanted things a certain way. I worked really hard, planned, organized and processed things purposefully. When they didn’t work out, my mom would call me a princess because I didn’t get my way. I wasn’t called princess a lot but, when I was, it was in a sarcastic way.
Q: What does the word “princess” mean to you?
A: As an adult, I’ve learned that words only have power if you give it to them. Now, I only think of a princess as someone who’s the daughter of a king and queen. I think of it by definition only now. People’s opinions can change the meanings of words, and I don’t let this define me now or equate it to certain behavior. I wouldn’t call my kids “princess” because I don’t view it as a term of endearment or entitlement anymore.
Q: How did you decide to found Girls Auto Clinic?
A: I began to realize that something was missing from my life, and so I circled back to what I wanted to do as a kid. It was interesting that once I started following something purposeful and useful, it didn’t seem like work. I went back to my true self of wanting to teach and be an entrepreneur. I’m fortunate to be doing both now.
Q: What did you have to do to accomplish this?
A: I went to school to be an engineer and worked in corporate America for several years. I was making good money, but I was never satisfied. I was always looking toward Friday, and that’s not a good way to live. I knew there was more to life, wasn’t fulfilled and coulldn’t imagine living the rest of my life this way. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I knew there was something else for me.
I moved to a city and surrounded myself with independent, successful and ambitious female entrepreneurs. I was inspired by how they own their lives and their contributions. It made me say “I can do this,” and I began looking for something I could own. I began to think about certain things in my life that I didn’t know how to do and always needed to look for a man to teach her. That disturbed me. One day, my toilet broke, and I watched a two-minute YouTube video and fixed the toilet. I was so proud! I knew I needed to share this with other women.
Initially, I wanted to start a blog so I started surveying women everywhere I went with the question “What do you wish you knew that you have to pay a man to do?”. Overwhelmingly, something with a car was the response. I started looking for a female car mechanic to feature on my blog and couldn’t find one or even any useful information online. It thought that was ridiculous, and that’s when this idea got kickstarted and just started rolling. I want to help women change the relationship they have with their cars. The end goal is to change the automotive industry.
Q: Of what are you most proud?
A: I’ve done so many things of which I could be proud. I’ve won business competitions, been featured in the Oprah magazine, given TedTalks and raised two girls. When I think about Girls Auto Clinic, what I’m most proud of might seem really small, but it’s meaningful to me. When I was young, my mom walked to bus stop every day, bought the Philadelphia Daily News and read it on the bus on her way to work. She’d bring it home, and then I’d read it every day after school. In 2014, I was featured in it for Girls Auto Clinic. That was my proudest moment so far. It might not be a big deal to others, but it was a big deal to me.
Q: What three words would you like people to use to describe you?
A: Funny. Confident. Compassionate.
Q: Given the choice, would you do it all again?
A: Absolutely and younger! Now that I say that, however, I also have learned that everything is a process, and everyone’s life is a journey. I have taken all of my experience and knowledge and put it toward Girls Auto Clinic.
Q: If you could eat lunch with one person, who would it be?
A: Tina Fey & Sarah Blakely are two of my favorite role models for women. Also, Serena Williams. They all took control, are unapologetic and now are in their own lane. They faced a lot of criticism but stayed true to themselves and prospered.
Q: Which woman would you choose to have on U.S. currency?
A: Harriett Tubman is a great one. Also, Eleanor Roosevelt or Maya Angelou.
Q: What advice would you give to a girl who right now wants to be just like you?
A: Confidence is key. You have to be confident. I never felt smart as an engineer, but it wasn’t because I wasn’t smart; it was because I wasn’t confident. Guys just say things, and people assume they’re right because they say it with confidence. We, as women, need to teach girls from a young age to own our confidence. Have the confidence to put yourself out there. When you do, be your authentic self. When you’re true and authentic, you will shine. I would also advise girls to read because I believe it’s essential to our evolution and to being open-minded. Reading and writing humbles you in a way that no other experience can. It also helps to recognize your worth and others’ worth.
Bonus Question: What question would you ask the next Modern Day Trailblazer we interview?
A: What was your lowest point and how did you handle it? How do you handle moments of fear, regret or depression? How do you handle stress, which I believe is the hardest part of being an entrepreneur.
- Patrice is changing from a night owl to a morning person. Sometimes she is up so early now, and that never used to happen. Girls Auto Clinic gets her energized!
- The last book she read was Americana by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
- Patrice doesn’t really have a favorite song; it depends on her mood. She loves every genre of music, but her favorite type of music is R&B and Soul. If she had to pick, it would be “Imagine” by John Lennon.
- She prefers vanilla ice cream but chocolate milk.
- Patrice’s favorite quote is “The future belongs to those who prepare for it today” by Malcolm X because it speaks to how important discipline is in the now.