As you all know, we love when strong women rock our brand. We seek these women out and want to tell their stories so they can inspire you as much as they inspire us. Today, we wanted you to meet another one of our brand am-BADASS-adors, Norma Jeanne Maloney.
Norma Jeanne is a truck-driving sign painter from Texas. We caught up with her to talk to her about sign painters, teaching women and doing what you love.
TomboyX: You are a self-described “truck-driving sign painter” – tell us about that.
NJM: Well, I have always painted signs since I was a kid, but took a short break from it for a while and drove an 18-wheeler. Even when I returned to painting, I still drive an old pick up truck.
TomboyX: How did you get started in hand-painting signs as a career?
NJM: When I was young, I was really into typography. I was painting this sign and this man came up to watch me work. He left and came back a little while later. He handed me the correct paint and a much better brush to use then left before I could thank him. I realized I had been doing it wrong and that there was a better way and I started to learn more about it until I was a professional.
I was featured in a film called “Sign Painters” and, as a result, there was a lot of follow up interviews. I was in the New York Times and on NPR. The man who brought me that paint and brush heard me on NPR, found out who I was and then introduced himself to me. It was really cool to be able to thank him 30 years later.
TomboyX: What are you passionate about?
NJM: I actually feel passionate about women in trades and about people doing what they love in general. Women in predominately male trades seem to have a hard time being taken seriously. They try to learn the trade but the men don’t want to share their secrets for success or give apprenticeships to women.
After the film came out, I would get calls from women who wanted to apprentice. They were reaching out to the men and getting rejected right off the bat. The men just didn’t want women working for or with them. If the men would have training workshops, they would post photos of them with these women and write things on their websites like, “Look at this little hottie that came to my workshop” – they were just sexually objectifying them, not taking them seriously as painters. As a result, I began teaching them. I now have women only workshops. In fact, I have an art weekend workshop for women coming up at my studio, Red Rider Studio, July 10-12th.
As for doing what you love, I just want to tell women to follow your heart. If you are doing what you love, you will be successful at it. When vinyl lettering came out in the 80’s, a lot of the sign painters left the business and told me I just missed my window. But I loved it and I was passionate about it and kept doing it. It didn’t matter that the industry was changing because I was so good and there was still a demand that I am quite successful. But it’s because I love what I do so much.
TomboyX: Who’s your favorite tomboy?
NJM: My granny is one. She was a feminine woman but she also knew how to do so many unconventional things. She could fish – she played guitar. She taught me how to play guitar.
I also love Susan Sarandon. I’ve always wanted to meet her. She is so much of what I want to be. She works to get innocent people out of prison. She helps villages to get goats to improve their quality of life. She helped the firefighters on 9/11… she just really inspires me.
And you inspire us, Norma Jeanne. Thanks for being an amazing brand am-BADASS-ador for TomboyX.
If you know of a badass woman who needs to be featured on Tomboy Tuesday, please drop us a note. We want to hear more stories about our customers who are rocking our brand!