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Barbara Kavovit Interview with Greener Living Today

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Very few women can brag that they own a successful renovation and construction management business.
Barbara Kavovit has earned these bragging rights and has now launched another venture, “BARBARA’S WAY.” 

In 2004, after ten years in construction, she developed a unique line of tools designed especially for women.
Building on this concept Barbara K has taken it even further with BARBARA’S WAY an on-line resource guide that empowers women to simply DO IT YOURSELF!

Greener Living Today:
How did you get started in the construction business and how has your business evolved over the years?

barbarak_th1Barbara Kavovit:
I got my start in two ways. Number one, after I graduated from college, I moved back home. My mother and her girl friend would talk about how they were tired of relying on their husbands for simple repairs or for contractors to show up.  They wished they could do more of the home repairs themselves. So, I started a home repair company dedicated to helping women get home repairs done. From there I ended up building the largest female owned construction company in New York, probably in the country, actually.

Greener Living Today:
Besides the feminine look of your line of tools and accessories what is it specifically that makes them different from typical hardware store brands?

Barbara Kavovit:
When I was in the construction industry, after 911 I went out of business, and at that point I realized women were still, after all of those years, intimidated in their own home. So, after watching an episode of Sex in the City, I received that Eureka moment. There was an episode where Samantha couldn’t hang her curtains and that is what gave me the inspiration to start Barbara K Enterprises, which manufactured and created a line of ergonomically designed tools for women. The premise was that no woman should be without her own tool kit. Not only make them a tool kit, but a good looking one.

Greener Living Today:
How do you see the current economic climate affecting the home improvement industry and how does Barbara’s Way help the consumer save money?

barbarak_th2Barbara Kavovit:
What happened with Barbara K was that it evolved into Barbara’s Way, because of the economic times that we’re in and because people want to save time and money. Instead of just tools, women have really evolved in the home improvement sector. Women were calling for information and knowledge on various products to empower them in the home. That goes beyond tools. It involves plumbing products, saving energy by installing a programmable thermostat, accessories such as gloves and protective goggles. Barbara’s Way really became an extension of Barbara K and the tools, a simpler approach to getting things done in the home.

Greener Living Today:
There is a growing trend towards reusing existing materials during remodels.  Are there any videos on your website to help the consumer dismantle a room, so that existing materials and fixtures can be recycled?  If not, do you plan to offer this type of information in the future?

Barbara Kavovit:
Yes, we definitely plan on offering that in the future. I also have many “How to’s” on my website. I’m getting into doing things with no chemicals and reusing materials. For example, there was a project where instead of throwing out an old chest of drawers, I took the drawers and installed small caster wheels on the bottom, loaded them up with my winter sweaters and stored them under the bed. This created storage units on wheels, So, I’m constantly trying to come up with ways to reuse existing products.

Greener Living Today:
What products do you offer that help to eliminate the need for toxic chemicals in the areas of home improvement and maintenance?

Barbara Kavovit:
Some of my new products are in the plumbing sector. I’m a big proponent of No Chemicals, especially if you have children around. If you have, for instance a clogged sink drain or a toilet bowel, there are ways of clearing that clog without using chemicals. Some of those ways involve using some of the new products that I have coming out, such as a drain cleaning kit. It comes with a plunger and an auger and you use these tools with my instructions on the best way to clear your drain. I think those types of things save you time and money, because you don’t have to call a plumber and it prevents the use of harmful chemicals in the home. Another example is saving water. When your toilet bowl or sink is leaking, it’s really important for women to know how to stop a leak, or stop the toilet from running.

Greener Living Today:
People are adapting to smaller living spaces. What type of advice, ideas and products does Barbara’s Way offer to the person moving from a larger to a smaller space?

barbarak_th3Barbara Kavovit:
I think where we are with the changing times; we’re not in a position to have grandiose type of homes. Homes that are too big for us, expensive to maintain and use too much heat, gas, electricity and oil. I try and show people how to section off their space. For example putting an area on a different level, such as a living room. I might create a step or two up and that gives the illusion that it is a separate space. I’m a real advocate of living simple. I think that women who are starting up businesses can make use of areas like an oversized closet, where they could set up a small office. Today people are downsizing and staying in their homes, so there are many creative ways to go about creating the illusion of having more space.

Greener Living Today:
Have you used any of the new green building materials that are becoming more popular?  If so, which ones do you recommend and how would you compare cost and quality of say, bamboo flooring versus hardwood?

Barbara Kavovit:
You know, both bamboo flooring and hardwood can be good and can be bad. There is bamboo out there that is bad, and there is hardwood out there that is good. By the same token there is hardwood that is bad and bamboo that is good. There many different types of bamboo and hardwood. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an organization that certifies wood to make sure that it is legal, formaldehyde free, plantation grown, etc. With bamboo, people often don’t know what to look for. Sometimes the moisture content can be too high, it might contain formaldehyde. My advice would be to speak with people who are experts in this field. Just because it says bamboo, doesn’t mean that it is good. With both woods you need to look for the certification and look to see where it’s from and where it was harvested.

In regards to working with some of the newer green materials, I’ve worked with some of the new wood and some of the paints that are out there. The low volatile organic compound paints (VOC) really focus more on outdoor air pollution as regulated by OSHA. Paints are loaded with chemicals and even if you find a low or zero VOC paint it may still contain chemicals such as ammonia, acetones, etc. When you do find the paint that is low in VOCs and chemicals the performance is very good. I would rather pay $40.00 a gallon for this type of paint and know that it doesn’t contain all of these chemicals.

Greener Living Today:
Finally, what direction is your company headed in over the next several years?

Barbara Kavovit:
I like to be on the cutting edge of information. If I can develop products that help people save time and money, I will continue to do that. As long as it focuses on the home and the environment. Creating content, creating webisodes (short online episodes), building retail distribution. I’d like to come out with as many products as I can that help people live a more comfortable and green lifestyle. I’m also working on a TV show and will write more books.

Learn more about Barbara Kavovit by visiting her website located at:

http://www.barbarasway.com

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