Natalie Martin, chief technology officer, StoneLoads
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While Bre Covell has only been working in the stone industry for six years, her first experience touring a slab showroom dates back to when she was 16 years old. The visit left a lasting impression on her and drove Covell to her current position as general manager of Pacific Shore Stones in Springdale, AR. A member of Women in Stone (WIS), Covell is the recipient of the organization’s Women Empowerment Scholarship, which provides a trip to one of three major industry events: StonExpo, Coverings or a Natural Stone Institute Study Tour, and the opportunity to shadow industry professionals within different sectors of the stone industry. Moreover, it allows Covell to explore her potential for leadership and her commitment to a career in the stone industry. Read more about Covell and her thoughts on working in the stone industry.

SW: Tell us a little about yourself.

BC: Sure thing! My name is Breanna, but I have always been called Bre. I grew up in Sedona AZ, which I think influenced me from a young age to view the earth as natural art. As a teenager, my family moved to Northwest Arkansas. I still call this beautiful state my home. I love learning and trying out different experiences, whether that is traveling to a new place, trying a new hobby or learning a new skill. I have a passion for stone and got into the industry early in my life at 20 years old. I now have the privilege of being the general manager of the Springdale, AR, location of Pacific Shore Stones, one of the nation's largest stone distributors.

SW: How long have you been working in the stone industry?

BC: I have been in the industry since 2017.

SW: What would you say is one of the most memorable experiences that you have had with your job so far?

BC: Honestly, I have a tough time picking one because I have had so many amazing experiences thanks to this industry. That said, there is one experience that had the largest impact. That experience was the first time I visited a stone showroom when I was 16. I was with a friend whose husband worked at Pacific Shore Stones. I tagged along to visit him at work and I was amazed by what I saw that day. To be honest, when they asked if I wanted to see the stone showroom, I was not intrigued at all. In my mind, granite was either brown or black and was not interesting to look at. However, as soon as I walked into the showroom, I was struck by the vibrant colors and intricate patterns of the natural stones on display. I had never seen anything like it before. The showroom was filled with slabs of all kinds, and I was amazed that each one was unique in its color and pattern. I remember running my hands over the cool surfaces of the stones and marveling at the beauty of nature. I kept asking, “This is natural?” I could not believe that these pieces of natural art were just here waiting to be turned into something beautiful and functional; and that nobody was talking about it! That experience sparked a curiosity in me about the world of stone and set me on a path that eventually led me to a career in the industry. At the same company, I originally visited funny enough. Looking back, that first visit to the stone showroom was a turning point for me and remains one of the most impactful experiences of my professional life.

SW: What were some reasons for joining WIS?

BC: I think there is something really empowering and beautiful about WIS. When I started in the world of stone, I was so intimidated by how male dominated the industry is. I quickly began gravitating towards other females, and I was really impressed with how they carried themselves. I remember thinking, “Wow, these girls are total bosses. I want to be able to carry a tape measure like that and respond to Mr. Gruff Builders' questions with grace and confidence like so many of these ladies do.” WIS is a group designed just for that, to support and encourage. The group is there to empower us women. There are so many amazing ladies who have vast amounts of expertise and life experiences, and I wanted to be a part of that. I wanted the opportunity to learn from people who have similar paths, because being a woman in the stone world is a unique experience. I can confirm as well that the ladies in WIS are in fact total bosses.

SW: How has being a part of the WIS organization helped you?

BC: I have benefited from the organization in a few ways, but most notably through their mentorship program. I had the chance recently to mentor with a wonderful woman who has some similar life experience as me. It was so helpful to sit down with someone who can relate in many ways to areas I would like to improve in, but our paths are different enough that I could gain an outsider's perspective on certain things. I have already taken her practical advice and seen the benefits!

SW: You recently were the recipient of the WIS Empowerment Scholarship. What does that mean to you?

BC: It means so much to me. I am truly humbled and honored by the scholarship. For various reasons, I was not able to pursue extra education after high school and part of me always felt a bit insecure about that. I have grown to realize this industry is my continued education. There is always something new and exciting to learn. The scholarship, to me, is an acknowledgement of that. And, I can now say I have a scholarship to my name. I get a bit emotional about it actually. I am very thankful. I have had so many amazing people help me throughout my career and teach me the basics all the way to the more intricate details of our stone world. I just hope that throughout my career I remember how it feels to be the new person and that I can help those who are new to our industry.

SW: What do you like most about working in the stone industry?

BC: There is a lot I love about this industry, and I certainly have a passion for stone, but I will always be so thankful for the confidence within myself this industry has given me. I am a better person and a more confident woman thanks to stone. Now being a manager and putting together my own team, I take considerable pride in seeing them grow and become more passionate about what we do. There is nothing more satisfying than getting to see the benefits I have received being imparted to others.

SW: When you are not working, how do you like to spend your free time?

BC: There are few things you can do in life that bring you as much feeling of accomplishment and peace of mind as the outdoors does, so I try to get involved in as many outdoor sports as I can. Kayaking, mountain biking, rock climbing, hiking are all activities I love to spend time doing. I especially love doing these activities with my family and friends.

SW: Is there anything else you would like to share?

BC: Yes. I guess my advice to the girls is do not be afraid to ask questions. Do not be afraid to admit that you do not know things. Be authentic and yourself. Being honest and open with my community has brought me so much further than had I held my tongue or tried to figure things out alone. It has opened communication and brought upon return business, many professional relationships and wonderful friendships that have helped my job remain a passion.

Meet more women in the stone industry in Stone World's Women Spotlight.