About women in the trades, digital media and what counts when it comes to bathroom design.
KALDEWEI & Sandra Hunke.
Sandra Hunke is a systems mechanic. Her week starts on the building site. On Mondays and Tuesdays Sandra works for a bathroom company. She also does a Wednesday there every two weeks – in each case eight hours a day. On Thursdays, Sandra’s life changes completely: she flies to Milan, London, Hong Kong, Berlin or Düsseldorf. Sandra Hunke is a successful model. Model and skilled tradeswoman – a life in two worlds that couldn’t be more different.
Skilled trade runs like a red thread through Sandra’s life. Even as a child she knew: “I wanted to be a tradeswoman.” At a young age, she used to stand in the workshop watching her father – a self-employed tiler – at work. At school too, her interest in the trades was very evident. “While other girls were drawing flowers on their pads during the handiwork classes, I always wanted to get stuck in straight away.” She never entertained the idea of a career outside the skilled trades. Having completed her schooling, she tried out various trades and finally became a systems mechanic. She says that if you’re the kind of person who dislikes monotony, the sanitary industry is the perfect choice. Her profession offers her new work and challenges every day.
As a tradeswoman, Sandra Hunke is something of a rarity. That entails both advantages and drawbacks. “Now and again I hear stupid remarks like Sandra, you’re not on the catwalk here , but by and large all of my colleagues respect me.” There is more scepticism on the part of customers. Many customers initially inspect her work with a critical eye but if Sandra does her job well, their prejudices are quickly dispersed. Single women in particular are delighted to have a female installer doing the work in their home.”
Even after her working day is over, the installer still hasn’t had enough of refurbishment – her own bathroom is currently being given a makeover. As a systems mechanic with years of experience, Sandra Hunke knows what counts when it comes to bathroom design. “It should be functional, look good and be instantly recognisable. It’s very important not to scrimp on material, especially with regard to bathroom products. I only choose steel enamel. It stores heat and is extremely robust.”
Sandra also conveys to her customers those points that matter in her own bathroom. “Unfortunately, steel has negative connotations for many people, so they go for acrylic. That is a shame – because if you buy cheap, you buy twice.” The question of whether to choose a tiled shower area or a floor-level shower also needs some explanation. “If you ask customers, 70 % of them want a fully tiled shower area. But any tiler will argue the opposite. Naturally, the tiler will seal everything but water will penetrate the joints sooner or later. You really don’t want to know what it looks like underneath,” Sandra says, adding that customers don’t get enough expert advice and they lack trust in installers.
For her, one thing is certain: when it comes to floor-level, she would choose a shower surface every time. She particularly likes the NEXSYS. “The 4-in-1 system is 100 % watertight and can be installed in a flash. Because it has a design cover, those who like a channel design don’t have to miss out either.” NEXSYS offers a wide range of design combinations so there is a personalised solution available for every bathroom. “It isn’t only in the fashion world that trends are set.” We are seeing more and more colour being used in bathrooms these days. That’s why the NEXSYS is an absolute stand-out product and its pared-down design has the huge advantage of making it timeless – in other words, so much more than just a passing trend.”
When Sandra talks one can clearly see how much she loves her work. Her eyes light up, her long red hair give her a very special look. No wonder that she’s in so much demand as a model. Nonetheless, she refused an offer from her modelling agency to go to Milan for four months. “I don’t want to give up my trade. I simply hope that I’ll never have to make a decision one way or the other. Because Sandra without the building site is just not on – not a chance.”
Having a clear, consistent opinion is one of Sandra’s distinctive traits. She won’t get any help to renovate her own bathroom either. “I can manage it by myself, I’m proud of that,” she says with a laugh. She is not entirely alone, however. “Naturally, I’m sharing the refurb with my followers. They’ve already given me lots of good tips and inspiration.” Sandra shares her life as a model and systems mechanic with over 26 thousand Instagram followers. The colourful mix of high-fashion shoots and short building site videos is unique.
Sandra hopes that she can use her function as a person of public interest to the benefit of the skilled trades. The skilled trades lack apprentices. If more tradespeople were to present their work on social media, we can show just how diverse the profession is and how much fun it is. Because it’s precisely in the social media that young people are to be found – and we need them!”
That is why, even on the building site, a mobile phone is Sandra’s constant companion and her most important assistant alongside her tools. “There are more and more digital tools that make my work easier. Apps are a great example. Instead of having to leaf my way through a paper manual, I have everything at my fingertips – planning assistant, configurator, installation videos. The building site is getting smarter all the time.”
Sandra frequently looks at her hands as she talks. They have many calluses. Her nails are short. “It’s not a problem when I’m modelling, they can be airbrushed. But I can never be a hand model,” she laughs. And as she laughs, the tradeswoman in Sandra is clearly visible – a part of her that nobody can airbrush out.