When it comes to understanding the value of hard work and maintaining an open, positive mindset, Sarah Matthews could probably teach us all a thing or two.

Raised out on the western slope of Colorado, this life-long resident of New Castle spent most of her formative years honing a passion for welding and ironwork, becoming an expert, and then using her skill not just to form perfect structures, but to create a thrilling life that she can be proud of.

Getting into the ironworking trade

The bug to strike out and do something meaningful with her hands struck Sarah quite early in life. “I started welding when I was fifteen,” she tells us. “I basically traded high school for welding school.”

It seemed inevitable. Coming from a family of woodwork entrepreneurs, the itch to get stuck into a trade was irresistible. When she tells us that “ironwork, welding and all things metal” had been her heart’s desire, we believe her. It seems like she had been ready to accept her fate all along.

“It was natural for me to skip college and pursue a career in the trades,” Sarah says when asked how she got started. It’s clear that this was the right choice for her; choosing to leverage her aptitude for learning in a way that best suited her.

“I became a sponge,” Sarah clarifies. “Learning everything possible and working hard in the beginning to perfect skills that others had taught me.”

Today, not only does Sarah excel in her chosen trade, she’s also able to guide others on a similar path. “Now I can pass on those skills, inspire, and teach others. It’s a gift to be able to bless others with knowledge!”

Sarah’s life as an ironworker

As a non-union ironworker, Sarah spends much of her time welding while also putting in the hours with jobs that involve detailing.

The variety is a huge part of the appeal. From installing handrail, to hanging iron, to putting together a crane – there’s a lot to be done. “There are so many aspects of this job and never a dull moment,” she enthuses.

It’s hard not to get swept up in Sarah’s energy; she clearly loves what she does. When pressed to explain this passion, the image we get is of someone who refuses to lead a life that’s half-lived. “What I get to do every day is crazy,” she says. “There is nothing as thrilling or scary.”

Pushing herself to her limits is also propelling Sarah towards becoming an ever-greater version of herself. “There’s always that chance to get better every day,” she tells us. “Coming home tired each night, knowing I did my best.”

“Getting to do something that very few people do, or are capable of doing, gives me so much pride in my work.”

Challenges Sarah has faced in her career

Given how Sarah’s passion and determination allowed her to cut a path towards her goal, you’d be forgiven for thinking things come easily to her.

It’s reassuring to see that Sarah’s feet and mind are planted firmly on the ground. She understands and appreciates the struggle involved in forging a path with your own hands. Her answer to our question about the difficulties she’s faced is that of an experienced pragmatist.

“Nothing in this trade is easy,” Sarah reflects. “Quite frankly, everything is a challenge. I’ve struggled a lot with being perfectionist.”

How has this complicated her growth? “It means wanting everything to be the best it can,” Sarah tells us. “I come from a school where there are no tolerances for a bad weld or poor cut quality.

“It was, and still is, a challenge to let the small things slide.”

Advice for others following in her footsteps

As someone who has admitted they enjoy teaching, we were keen to know what Sarah’s advice would be to others seeking to follow in her footsteps.

Unsurprisingly, the response was solid; an indication of someone who understands and appreciates the value of educating yourself with a clear goal in mind: “Work hard, be teachable and willing to learn.”

Just as Sarah did in the beginning, having an open mind is her key to advancement. “Become a sponge and learn as much as you can,” she insists. “A strong work ethic will go a long way today.”

The boots Sarah wears to get the job done

Sarah’s work boots are a sturdy choice: our very own American Heritage 8” Moc Toes. “They’re durable and lightweight, making them ideal for being on the iron,” she tells us. “The stitching on the toes doesn’t burn off after hours of welding.”

Sounds like the perfect practical hard-working gear has found the right owner. After all, when you’re in the ironworking trade, you need boots that allow you to be nimble while still providing dependable protection and reassuring surface grip.

But they clearly mean a bit more than that to this driven worker, and what she says next really seals the deal for us.

“It takes a tough pair of boots to fit a tough person.” Well said.

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To follow Sarah on her career path and job sites, check out her Instagram by clicking the buttons below!

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