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International Womens Day - Clare Miller- Allett Stirling User

 We spoke with Stirling owner Clare Miller who is a professional lawncare specialist from Burnham-on-Crouch, Essex. Clare has recently purchased an Allett Stirling in order to offer a more premium lawn care package to her customers.

Lets get to know more about Clare....

 

Tell me a bit about your lawncare journey so far

I spent many years as a professional freelance photographer in London, & about 12 years ago, between jobs I started helping out a friend with his gardening business - general maintenance jobs for local residential gardens. I loved all the aspects of working outside so when the photography came to an end it seemed logical to go into the gardening full time. Within a short space of time I had a good number of customers but finding the lawncare side was what interested me most. The more I learnt the more passionate I became about the amazing transformative effect a great lawn can have on the overall look of a garden. I soon realised the lawncare industry in the UK was a small but thriving community, & one I wanted to be a part of, so Absolute Lawncare was born! 

I’ve always been an active person, into sports & fitness & grew up with a love of the outdoors. Nothing makes me happier than to be outside on a summers day! Even in the winter when it’s cold & damp it still feels good to get out in the fresh air - although the motivation to get out there in the depths of winter to start the day can be hard to find sometimes!! When I’m not working I still love to be outside - walking by the river where I live with friends, or venturing up to Scotland in my camper van to explore the islands & walk some big hills with my partner - often with a camera in hand. I’m a single mum to a 16 year old son so juggling work & home life can be a challenge!

I remember when I was young, watching my father cut the grass at home. I was never allowed to help as he was very particular about it and always cut the edges very precisely! That’s definitely influenced me as I always make sure I edge a lawn properly now & customers often don’t realise how important that is until they see the finished result! I think a well cut & edged lawn makes the biggest difference to the look of a garden - it’s very satisfying to see the transformation!

 

Why did you go for the Allett Stirling?

My business now offers a premium grass cutting & maintenance service, & obviously delivering a premium service requires premium equipment & there’s nothing better than a cylinder cut. The Allett Stirling provides a whole cultivating system in one machine with the interchangeable cartridges. This has big advantages for me - it means I can effectively have all my machines on the van at the same time instead of a separate mower, scarifier, leaf collector, verticutter, & aerator which would take up much more space. This also changes the way I can offer services as I can be much more flexible. If I arrive at a customer’s house to cut the grass & it looks like it needs scarifying I can quickly change the cartridge, perform the scarification & collect the waste material easily. This approach gives the best possible customer experience, saves me time & money  and is super efficient. Obviously running a lawncare business means I need robust equipment that can take a bit of a beating & won’t let me down. The Allett machines are unquestionably very well engineered & built.

 

What made you choose battery power?

Battery powered tools are generally quieter and also lighter, & easier to start. They also have the advantage of not needing so much servicing so I’ve been thinking about changing to electric tools - including lawnmowers - for a while, but didn’t want to end up with the situation of having several different battery systems & chargers. The Stirling uses an Ego battery & that gives access to a whole range of other Ego tools on the same battery system. This was a real game changer for me. I now have a charger set up in my van so I can charge batteries between jobs & change batteries to different tools as needed, making everything easy & convenient for me. This means I always have spare batteries & a means of charging so never run out of power.

 

Do you have any other cartridges for your Stirling?

Alongside the 6 blade cutting cartridge I currently have a scarifying cartridge, a dethatcher, a verticutter & an aerating cartridge. This covers the majority of cultivating jobs I perform on a regular basis.

I think this system has a real place in a professional set up. It definitely has both the quality & the versatility to justify the investment, & also looks the part in a top end garden!

 

What challenges have you faced being a female in the industry?

Being self-employed is something I’m very used to but it has it’s challenges & advantages! The seasonal nature of the work means I become a painter & decorator over the winter months to keep busy. I’ve always worked in male-dominated industries (I was an aerospace engineer before I became a photographer) and I don’t actually know of any other female lawn care specialists in my area! Maybe it’s because of the amount of heavy machinery involved & the physical nature of the job? But for anyone interested in being active & being outdoors it’s a great career. I’m not very tall (5’2”) & the biggest problem I have is that tools, lawnmowers etc are all too tall for me! Most mowers don’t have the facility to adjust the height of the handles & it does feel like they’re all designed around men! I normally have to chop a bit off the handles of rakes etc so they’re more comfortable! The Stirling handlebars are perfect for me as they are adjustable both in height and angle.

It took me quite a while to realise that lawn care can be a separate job from general gardening, & that there’s so much involved in making a lawn look great. There’s a big market out there for customers who want their grass looking fabulous but don’t have the knowledge or time to achieve it. I’ve not had any negative experiences from customers about being a female in the industry - in fact I think many customers prefer it & feel less intimidated perhaps?  

 

What can be done to get more women into the lawncare industry?

Most advertising I see for mowers & garden machinery seems to show men doing the “serious” work with larger mowers, aerators, scarifiers etc, and women only pictured with small lightweight machines in a pretty back garden! I know plenty of women very capable of taking on the heavier jobs & it would be nice to see these examples used to encourage women into the industry.

 There is a lot of information online about lawn care & how to improve your own lawn at home. Much of it can be quite technical in terms of specific treatments, expensive machinery etc, but there’s also big improvements to be made by regular mowing & an occasional rake & feed. But if I give away too much I’ll be out of a job!

Find Clare's website here

Find Clare on Facebook here

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