25, March 2024

Rachel Camarillo: Blazing a Trail for Women in Manufacturing

Rachel Camarillo: Blazing a Trail for Women in Manufacturing

This blog is part of a series highlighting women who are making an impact on the manufacturing industry.

When Rachel Camarillo was a little girl growing up in Hawaii, she helped her mother and two aunts with what they called a hobby. They’d draw flowers, screen print the art onto fabric, and cut and sew the fabric meticulously into kitchen sets they’d sell at craft fairs.

“It was an intensive process for a hobby now that I look back on it,” she says. “I remember the hours of getting the screen print just right, stuffing the potholders, sewing into the wee hours of the night, and then interfacing with customers at fairs. If someone had explained to me at that time that this is what businesses were like but only on a much larger scale, I think I would have seriously considered focusing more on manufacturing business processes or explored careers that stemmed from that.” 

Still, that seed was planted, and it took root. Camarillo now serves as a board member and treasurer of Impact Washington, the Washington MEP Center, and part of the MEP National Network™. She is the Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer at Erin Air, Inc. Camarillo founded the Women in Manufacturing (WiM) – Washington state chapter in 2019. She’s also a busy wife and mom to boys she enjoys spending time with.

In honor of Women’s History Month this March, she reflected on her career and the future of women in manufacturing. 

It is important to have diverse perspectives contributing to all aspects of business across industries, she says, adding that many industries are struggling with attracting women and other minorities.

“It can be daunting to try to move the needle alone in this, and we should work together as an industry to steer the norms in the right direction,” Camarillo says. “For me, I've been reflecting more on how it’s important to focus on getting in front of young school-aged children to educate them on what life in manufacturing could look like for them.” 

Camarillo, who has a sparkling smile and often wears a flower in her hair to remind her of growing up on the island, joined Impact Washington because it was one of the first organizations to support WiM. Once she learned more about it, she wanted to be part of it.

“I founded the chapter here in Washington after craving a strong network of female peers who I could learn from and help inspire me to keep going in the industry,” she says. “Little did I know, there was a need far greater than what I had ever imagined and now the WiM Washington chapter is one of the premier chapters of the larger national WiM association, leading the way in terms of gaining sponsorships and executing regular high-quality professional development and networking opportunities for women in manufacturing in our local community.”

She enjoys serving on the Impact Washington board because she says the positive impacts are real and measurable, “especially for the smaller companies that don’t have the resources or bandwidth to level up.”

“I am passionate, some would say stubborn, about creating environments where employees feel valued, supported, and motivated to reach their fullest potential and prove that the byproduct of fostering a culture full of individuals who thrive both personally and professionally results in increased business profitability,” she adds. 

She hopes other women feel as passionate about their careers as she does. The more opportunities they know about early on can make all the difference – just like her mom and aunts did for her in their special way, so many years ago. 

“We need to take the time to connect the dots so the little girls out there all know what they are capable of,” she says.

Blog originally appeared here

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