At the time Laura Grandlienard, owner of ROCKin’teriors, started thinking about working in the stone industry, she was employed at IBM (International Business Machines Corporation), an American multinational technology corporation, covering a global territory.

“I was managing software sales for South America and the lower Caribbean region,” said Grandlienard. “I was in awe of the natural stone I was seeing, and intrigued by the industry. We were in the process of building a home, and I was intrigued about how stone comes from a quarry and arrives to our homes. At the time, most countries had little government involvement/regulation on how the stone quarrying and fabrication process impacted our environment. It has not always been a top priority for many in our industry. We created our business model by asking, What can we do better?”

Since she joined the stone industry, Grandlienard has seen more women enter it, and said it has been a needed shift. “Take a simple example such as unfinished surfaces on the underside of desks, tables, counters and so forth,” said Grandlienard. “Men sometimes don’t take into consideration that women can catch their delicate fabricates (i.e. silk, sweaters) when surfaces are unfinished. It’s quality-control elements like that, that make a difference.”

Grandlienard also treats natural stone as a piece of art, her workshop and design studio space reflecting that. As a result, ROCKin’teriors has even hosted weddings in their facility.

“We’ve also hosted numerous industry roundtables, workshops and continuing education courses in our space for architects, interior designers and others,” said Grandlienard. “Often, we’ll do those in conjunction with organizations such as the Natural Stone Institute or the International Surface Fabricators Association (ISFA). The number of women in those settings is very reassuring that the next generation of our industry is in good hands. In another area of focus, we’ve been featured on various television programs -- from Today’s Builder Television to Lifetime’s “Designing Spaces.” Interestingly enough, the hosts and subject matter experts in those programs have typically been women. For us, it all comes back to treating Mother Nature’s finest as the treasure that it is. We lead by example, so that others will hopefully change.”

Grandlienard has been a part of Women in Stone with the Natural Stone Institute and ISFA. She’s on the accreditation committee, and she is seeing more and more women in leadership positions across the industry. For women looking into getting into the industry, her advice is to explore. “Don’t be afraid to get involved in various roles,” said Grandlienard. “Learn about the processes from selling to marketing to polishing and coordinating installs. It’s amazing what Mother Nature has to offer. We have room for more women leaders.”

Women Spotlight: Read more about the leading women in the stone industry.