SEATTLE — Eli Allison's passion is cars. But you don't call your garage Repair Revolution unless you're trying to change more than the oil.
“The norms of the industry are, you know, racist, sexist, homophobic, taking advantage of women and queer people,” said Allison.
Allison got denied sixteen times before a job offer finally came through.
“On several occasions it was like 'we don't have any receptionist positions available,' and I'm like 'I'm here to work on cars. This is what I do. This is what I'm trained in,'" said Allison.
“It was just like a time machine back to 1950, and as somebody who was born female and more feminine presenting at the time it was just a really hard industry to be in.
“And so my dream was to open a shop and do it differently.”
Repair Revolution is different. As some of the employees like to joke, they put the “gay” in “ga-rage”. It's especially friendly to the LGBTQ community but welcomes anyone with a car.
“I feel pretty lucky," said Allison. "Everyone who works for me is here for the same reasons that I am. They were in the industry.They didn't like what they saw and they wanted to see it done differently.”
Les Fino-Fugate has been a part of the revolution for several years.
“It's a place where I can be myself, where I don't have to worry about trying to be something that I'm not. Someone that I'm not,” said Fino-Fugate.
Both Allison and Fino-Fugate are both former social workers who want to empower customers by teaching basic car maintenance.
“This industry would have you believe that it's all a mystery and no one can do this and that's just not true,” said Allison.
Allison has a staff of eight, but every month brings applications from around the country from more mechanics who want to join the revolution.
“I would love it if I could train all of those folks that have this passion and have all these apprentices but from a financial perspective I can't do it,” said Allison.
It takes a lot of pushing before something moves in the right direction, but at Repair Revolution, Allison has put together a team with the right drive.
Repair Revolution crew will be at Trans Pride this Friday, June 22 from 5 - 9 p.m. They will be sharing a table with their friends from the Lavender Rights Project at Cal Anderson Park. All proceeds will go towards Repair Revolutions Low Income Fund. They will also have tons of free and fun gear!
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