Charity Adeoti is a student at Hawkeye Community College in Cedar Falls, Iowa, where she is wrapping up the 10-week Floor Covering Education Foundation (FCEF) installation program. Adeoti brings several years of flooring installation experience to the table and has big plans following the completion of her education.

In a recent FLOORtalk podcast, she shares her flooring journey and how she plans to help bring in the next generation of flooring installers.

Floor Trends & Installation: Tell me who you are and what you do.

Charity Adeoti: I am a Christian African American woman who is mid-ish 20s. I am from Chicago, but I do live as of right now in North Dakota and going to school in Iowa at Hawkeye Community College for the basic floor covering installation program.

Floor Trends & Installation: What made you decide to move from Chicago to North Dakota?

Adeoti:  It was a lot of God's moving, but also COVID happened and hit in Chicago. At that time, I was not only a restaurant manager, but I was also in school for mechanical engineering. My brother was in school at University of North Dakota and was working for a flooring company. He invited me to come and help out and work and ever since then, I fell in love with the trade. I actually moved back to Chicago because COVID did end up hitting in North Dakota. When I did that, I just simply remember God being like, go ahead and go, don't go back to school. I was thinking, “Don't go back to school? That's super weird, I'm three to four years in, that's insane to me.”

At this time, I had just recently lost a cousin to gun violence and I would love to do something with that to be able to help get teenagers off the streets. Eventually, I want to open up a non-profit youth center or trade school to be able to do just that, keep kids off the street, give them a job and allow them to have the resources to reach their goals.

Floor Trends & Installation: Why did you choose flooring installation?

Adeoti: I feel like flooring chose me, in a way. I definitely did just jump into it and kept going with it. I do think it's one of the easier parts of the different construction avenues you can go into. I'm actually happy that I started out with flooring because I'm literally starting from the bottom up. Ever since then, I fell in love. I've always been good with my hands and loved working with my hands. I've been that person that you would send the Ikea furniture to and I'll put it together.

Floor Trends & Installation: Which flooring category is your favorite to install?

Adeoti: Carpet is absolutely the easiest to install and my favorite would have to be carpet tile.

Floor Trends & Installation: Tell me about your experience with the Floor Covering Education’s 10-week installation program at Hawkeye.

Adeoti: It's been absolutely great. If I'm being quite honest, being a woman in the flooring industry, I deal with a lot of imposter syndrome and having confidence and guaranteeing my work. That's really what made me look back into going to school, that way I can at least have something behind my name, something that I can actually say people who literally know more than me have a technical way of doing this rather like a guess and check type thing.

When I first was looking up schools, I saw FCEF. Even from the very beginning, speaking with Kay Whitener has been amazing. Kay has been awesome. She's always checking in on me, always making sure I'm good. She helped me throughout the whole process of everything. Even speaking with Jerry Orr [trade and industry coordinator] at Hawkeye Community College and just getting me situated there. All of the instructors—we switch out instructors every week—Ron, Jared, all of these other people who are local installers who took time out of their jobs to be there to show us the ropes and teach us, have been absolutely amazing. I am so grateful that I've gotten to be there and be able to experience it.

Going into it, I was kind of nervous. I thought I was going to be the only girl, I thought I was going to be the only black person. I thought I was going to be the oldest of the group because I'm out of college age. It turns out I am the only girl. The class is a full class of African Americans, and even some most of them are actually straight African. And I am actually one of the youngest. It was definitely a lot different than what I expected. I will be recommending it to whoever would like to take a shot at it, whether it's there or anywhere else that you guys have a basic floor installation program.

Floor Trends & Installation: What do you plan to do with your education?

Adeoti: Having family members in Gary, Indiana, and Chicago, I have seen and lost quite a few family members to gun violence and things like that. I want to help make a difference. I've always had a heart for teens. I'm actually a youth pastor at my church and I work with the teen ministry. I always wanted to be able to give them that first step. I know a lot of places always want you to have experience before you come work with them. I want to be that place that gives everyone a chance. My vision of the nonprofit/trade school: I would like to own property for myself, whether it's an apartment building or whatever, for these kids to learn on so that they can learn on things that I can be able to be there and fix. I also want to have a professional crew that goes out and does the commercial, residential and things like that. I want to be able to allow these kids to be able to move up in the ranking. As they turn 18-21, if they want to go into project management, if they want to, be a foreman, if they want to stick with simple installation, if they want to get into accounting and help with the accounting side of things, I want to have all those different avenues for that. Then they can easily bump up to the professional side of the program.

Eventually, if I can, I know it'll have to be a separate section of it, but I would love to also have a, I call it almost like a second chance course for people who are coming out of addictions or out of prison, people who just don't get that easy second chance. Being in North Dakota, and some of the people that I've worked with in the past, they are such awesome people and you would not believe the past that they had and if the companies that I was working with didn't give them a second chance, how much potential are we missing out on? We judge people because of past, because of what they've been through. If they want to go out on their own and do their own thing and become their own business, I would love to help with that. I don’t want to be worried about being territorial and only teach you so much. I don't want to be stingy with wisdom. I want to be able to be that stepping stone for them to get to the next level.

Floor Trends & Installation: What do you think the flooring industry needs to do to attract more young people?

Adeoti: Honestly, I would just say really patience is a huge thing. Even from my generation to the generation coming up has been a huge difference in technology. I hate to say it, but common sense isn't even so common anymore. Working with my teens and seeing the different things that they're exposed to and the things that they deal with nowadays, I would say not only inviting them in, but also having that space for them to mess up and having the patience to guide them, holding their hand because it is going to come down to that and giving them that safe place to be able to grow.

I think we're really quick, especially now, to just be like, “This kid is not a good worker. He doesn't take any initiative.” But nowadays, it's those simple things where back in the day, we should already know. John is always saying in class, we're in class, this is the place where you need to mess up. He makes us feel so comfortable. I definitely feel like it'll draw more kids to the career fairs and things like that. Also, showing them different tools and how they work and getting them excited and interested in it. From the jump, understanding, what is your purpose and goal from here? Do you want to open up your own business? Do you want to be a foreman? What is it exactly that you want out of life? Help them to get those goals and hopefully once they reach those goals, they can go further than what they thought they've had.

Floor Trends & Installation: What do you think the flooring industry needs to do to attract more women?

Adeoti: Putting women out in the flooring industry. I feel like a lot of women who I even see now on Instagram and YouTube and things like that who are literally doing their kitchens as DIYs and I'm like, they could be awesome in this field, but they probably haven't seen other women in the flooring industry. They haven't seen other women in the construction field. We’re able to do it and sometimes, we usually see things better and have a better eye for detail. I don't know why more women aren't into the flooring industry. But if I can encourage any women who I see like who are good with their hands who don't mind getting their hands dirty, they’ll fit right in and do what needs to be done.

Listen to the full interview!

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