With nearly 1 million followers across Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, and YouTube, Lydia Crowder—known to her followers as Drywall Shorty—is one of the leading voices in the world of drywall finishing. As part of our On Point series, which features insight from industry experts on the latest topics and trends in their respective fields, we touched base with Lydia to better understand how social media is impacting the drywall industry, as well as what it’s like to be a woman in a male-dominated trade.
Why drywall? How did you get started in the industry?
I have always been around drywall—my dad has been finishing for over 30 years, so I would help him when I was younger. I graduated high school and attended one semester of college, quickly learning that was not the right fit for me. My dad asked me if I wanted a job, and I thought I would give it a try. At the time, my roommate and cousin both worked for my dad, so I had a great crew to learn the trade with and fell in love with finishing. Work was always fun even though it was hard those first couple months, but you adapt and it becomes easier and easier. I introduced my husband to the trade when we were dating, and we started our own business in 2009. We've been working together for around 20 years and both love the trade!
What obstacles have you had to overcome as a woman in this industry? What guidance would you offer to other women who want to have a career in the built environment?
I, thankfully, have been blessed to work with great crews and builders that are always respectful and treat me as an equal. One common thing that does come up is being treated as a helper or as though I'm just there to do menial tasks. I do my best to explain what I do, ask questions about the job, and show that I am detail oriented and a professional. If I respect my own abilities and show that I truly know what I'm doing, it's the best way to build respect on site.
The biggest piece of advice I can give to a woman looking to get into the trades is to show up, do your work, and don't get caught up in the mentality of proving yourself to others. Take yourself seriously—you are there to do a job, and you are qualified for the task. Also, don't be afraid to ask for help or advice from others. Most of what I have learned in the industry is from others that have been willing to help and teach. Don't be so proud that you think you know everything; there is a lot to learn when it comes to construction!
In what ways has social media impacted the industry?
I think social media has helped the drywall industry immensely! It is a trade where you really learn from others, and social media has created a platform for others to share their tips, tricks, and experiences with others. It has created an amazing community of people helping others and improving their finishing skills. It has also opened up the industry to ask questions, educate on proper techniques, and create better drywall finishes overall!
What are some of your key takeaways or lessons learned from social media? What advice would you give to others looking to share their trade online?
Be confident in what you create! It seems everyone has something to say about what you do—good or bad—and it can be very hard sometimes. Stay confident in what your abilities are on site and what finishes you give your clients, and stay positive. You are the one doing the work, not the commenters on social media, so don't let them bring you down. You need to have thick skin when sharing your work with others and not take everything personally. Don't get caught up in the comments or opinions of others; you have no idea what their experience is in the trade and what kind of background they are coming from. Stay true to yourself and try to help build up the drywall community and others in it.
I love getting daily messages and emails telling me how much I've helped someone, helped them with their project, or showed them a new technique to do something they've been struggling with. The good absolutely outweighs the bad!
Also, stay focused and have a plan when you are posting. It's always a good idea to have a month planned out so you can stay consistent with content.
Which social media platform would you recommend to other trade professionals looking to expand their brand and professional network?
Every platform has its strengths and weaknesses. Instagram has a great community of finishers that really uplift and help each other. It can be hard to grow on that platform, so don't give up if you don't have immediate success. Facebook can be very good but also very negative at times, and you need to set a standard for what you will and won't tolerate. Videos can go viral very fast on Facebook and you can wind up with a lot of negative comments. I tend to not look at them and stay focused on the positive comments. Both of these platforms can help you reach a local market, advertise your services, and build your brand.
You’ve been using ClarkDietrich products for quite some time now. Do you have any go-to or favorite products? What do you love about them?
I love the Mud-Pro2! It is so easy to use and makes installing corner beads and Strait-Flex incredibly fast. I also love the Big-Stick corner bead. It is completely composite, so there is no worrying about roughing up the paper face when coating or sanding. It's also incredibly fast to install, durable, and takes less compound to finish compared to other corner bead options. And you can't leave out Strait-Flex—I've been using it for over 21 years, and it is my go-to for off-angles and tricky spots that need some extra help.