Through her company Lady Fierros, Alejandra Hartman forges new pathways for women in auto mechanics

My true calling took me out of my comfort zone but I embraced the change, bravely studying to become a car mechanic. I felt proud to be the only woman in my classes and the day I received my diploma was unforgettable.

  • 6 months ago
  • November 17, 2023
5 min read
Alejandra Hartman and her father stand together at the Lady Fierros car clinic | Photo courtesy of Alejandra Hartman Alejandra Hartman and her father stand together at the Lady Fierros car clinic | Photo courtesy of Alejandra Hartman
Journalist’s notes
interview subject
Alejandra Hartman served as the former CEO of a Dutch multinational company before giving it all up to launch Lady Fierros and pivot to her passion in auto mechanics. She is now continuing her family’s legacy in her father’s garage. She founded Lady Fierros Clinica de Autos, a brand dedicated to automotive education, and actively shares car maintenance tutorials and tips on social media, especially on Instagram @ladyfierros, where she has nearly 200,000 followers. Hartman also hosts workshops at Taller Mecánico Motorika and developed ‘Lady Fierros THE GAME,’ an educational app. She champions empowering women in automotive fields and encourages careers in traditionally male-dominated areas, believing firmly that “Professions don’t have a gender.”
background information
Bertha Benz, Carl Benz’s wife, made history in 1888 as the first person to journey in an automobile, traveling 106 kilometers with her children, which propelled Carl to further develop his motorized tricycle. This period witnessed significant contributions from German women in the automotive field: Emma Kurtz and Berta Habermass, married to Daimler and Maybach, played roles in petrol engine development, while Wilhelmine Erhardt drove one of the first Wartburg cars in 1899. Innovations also came from Dorothy Levitt, who invented the rear-view mirror, and Mary Anderson, creator of the manual windshield wiper in 1902. Florence Lawrence, a Canadian American actress, contributed to safety with the invention of the turn signal in 1913. Another notable figure, Sophie Marie Opel, transformed a sewing machine and bicycle factory into a modern automobile factory, cementing her legacy in the industry. Discover more about these pioneering women at latercera.com.

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – I left the corporate world to launch my brand Lady Fierros to empower and educate women about cars. Driven by creativity and a desire to become a trailblazer, I set to work researching the industry. I soon discovered that a woman named Mary Anderson invented the windshield wiper and Margaret Wilcox developed the first rail car heater design. Inspired by their legacies in the automotive industry my goal became clear: to equip women with the confidence necessary to work on and understand cars.

As I began developing maintenance tutorials, I covered topics like changing tires, buying used cars, lighting for foggy weather, and the meaning of exhaust smoke colors. I shared the videos online, eagerly anticipating the reactions I might receive, but challenges emerged quickly. Some male viewers left disparaging comments, undermining my credibility. While the comments felt hurtful, I refused to allow them to deter me from my purpose. I saw challenges as opportunities for growth and resilience. With this mindset, I pushed forward, determined to grow the Lady Fierros brand.

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I grew up working in my father’s car mechanic shop

Growing up in the Villa Devoto neighborhood of Buenos Aires, my childhood differed from my peers. While they played with Barbies, I reveled in my family’s mechanic shop at our house. Amidst car tires, oil stains, and the aroma of gasoline, I spent hours mimicking my father, fixing my bike using his tools.

A passion for cars always existed in my family, right back to my grandparents who were Italian and German immigrants in Entre Ríos. My grandfather built tractors and it ignited a fascination that led my father to a career in mechanics.

In the 1960s, my father established his workshop Motorika, where he still works at 80 years old. Despite this rich mechanical heritage, I picked a different path in life. I pursued work in marketing with a master’s degree in international business, leading to a successful, global corporate career.

Despite breaking through the glass ceiling at lightening speed, a deeper and unfulfilled calling left me with a persistent, inner void. My heart yearned to work in mechanics. When I walked away from the boardroom in favor of the grit of the workshop, a decisive shift in my life brought me back to my family’s legacy.

Venturing into entrepreneurship, I founded Lady Fierros as a car clinic. In a male-dominated field, I recognized the pressing need to not only empower myself, but other women. I channeled this passion into a beacon for change and inspired many women in the process.

Trailblazing to bring more women into auto mechanics

My true calling took me out of my comfort zone, but I embraced it, bravely studying to become a car mechanic. I felt proud to be the only woman in my classes and the day I received my diploma was unforgettable. Holding on to my certificate, I felt overwhelmed with emotion. As I met my father’s gaze, I imagined being in the workshop beside him, but with a new role and perspective.

My marketing experience inspired me to redefine the relationship between women and cars. I dreamt of a unique garage, free of the cliches like pin-up calendars. I wanted to create a space where women felt comfortable in any attire. They could come in skirts and high heels or trousers; it didn’t matter. By creating a welcoming environment for them, women could bring their cars without the fear of being judged for their lack of knowledge.

Stepping back into the workshop in 2016 felt like a homecoming. On that first day, nostalgia washed over me. I reminisced about my childhood, riding bikes and doing homework against the backdrop of engine roars that now felt like a personal greeting.

Alejandra working on repairs at Lady Fierros | Photo Courtesy of Alejandra Hartman

Embracing my father, it felt like the start of a new era in my life. I never imagined myself as the heir to my family’s business, but fate and determination brought me here. I dove headfirst into modernizing the workshop and integrating social media. It infused new life into the business.

Alejandra Hartman at the heart of her car clinic Lady Fierros | Photo courtesy of Alejandra Hartman

The evolution of our company requires strategic planning to become profitable and to draw brand attention. I aimed to set us apart, continuously seeking innovative ways to realize my unique vision. Ultimately, I focus our services on women, recognizing the opportunities available for us to be involved in non-traditional professions. Today, Lady Fierros has become a trailblazer in the industry.

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