- ‘Señorita Maria’ is an all-female run and staffed SEAT dealership and repair shop in Germany
- It is the brainchild of a young German businesswoman and empowers women in a traditionally male-dominated industry
Walking into a car dealership only to find an all-woman team working there is not something you see every day. But Maria Ekner, who continues with the family tradition in the sector, decided to create a business aimed at empowering women in a career that is typically male-oriented. She opened her SEAT dealership in 2010 in the town of Hennigsdorf, just north of Berlin. She called it ‘Señorita Maria’ and everyone who works there, from the sales floor to the auto repair shop, are all women.
“I wanted to do something different”, says Maria Ekner. This young German graduate of business management is no stranger to the automobile sector, having grown up around them in her father’s own vehicle sales and repair business. After graduating she wanted to follow in her father’s footsteps, but with a unique twist. Why not open a dealership and staff it exclusively with women? And that’s how she rose to the challenge of opening Germany’s first all-women auto dealership.
Oversized red-lipped kiss marks decorate the walls of the dealership, where the team of eight women are keen to prove that cars, engines and repairs make no distinction between men and women. In fact, Sarah Hübner, one of the mechanics who works at ‘Señorita Maria’, says that “women can also stand out in this profession, not just as sales and technical advisers, but also as auto mechanics”, as she inspects a car in the repair shop where, by the way, there isn’t a drop of motor oil on the floor and everything is neat and tidy.
But beyond the feminine touches found all over the dealership, one aspect that sets it apart from the rest is the customer service, as highlighted by Franziska Schiebe, one of the customers who has chosen ‘Señorita Maria’ to advise her on a car purchase. In her opinion, women transmit more confidence, something she feels is essential when it comes to buying a car.
On the occasion of the International Working Women’s Day, Maria encourages women to be enterprising, and even go into businesses that are traditionally male-dominated. As it stands today, ‘Señorita Maria’ is still newsworthy. However, this young German entrepreneur trusts that in the future, her business idea won’t be so groundbreaking and more women will follow her example.