When Patrice Banks opened Girls Auto Clinic in Upper Darby, Pa., she wanted to empower women by providing trustworthy car services and educating them about car maintenance. She also wanted to help them to keep their nails freshly manicured and looking great, which is why she opened Clutch Beauty Bar inside the garage a month later.
Banks was a self-described “auto airhead” before she decided to leave her job as an engineer and become a mechanic. “I would joke, ‘My car needs an oil change, but I’m going to go get a mani/pedi instead,’” she says. Feeling that mechanics were taking advantage of her, she tried to find resources to educate herself on car repair, but had trouble finding anything. That’s what inspired her to become a mechanic herself and open an auto clinic that would employ only female mechanics. More unusual still, the clinic would feature a salon where women can get manicures, pedicures, and blowouts while they wait.
Clutch Beauty Bar mixes an industrial look with touches of femininity. “Our hair stations are toolboxes and we have a tire sink, but it has a lot of color,” says Banks. It offers a range of nail services, including hard gel, gel-polish, and traditional polish. Banks has found it a challenge to find good nail techs, but she’s encouraged by her customers’ excitement about the new business. “It’s about female empowerment,” says Banks. “Women are the number-one customer in the auto industry, yet we feel so left out and taken advantage of. Here women can come, get their car done, get their nails done, feel good, relax, and know they’re going to be taken care of and be comfortable.”